By Smiley Poswolsky
I used to love imagining the future. “One day, I’m going to live in a city I really want to live in.” “One day, I’m going to quit my job.” “One day, I’m going to start a blog and write every day.” “One day, I’m going to help other people live life to their full potential.”
I kept making excuses, kept putting off my dreams for some perfect moment when the stars were going to align and bagels and lox (my favorite food) were going to start flying down from the sky.
Why do we make excuses? We make excuses partly because we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but mostly because we are scared of unleashing our own gifts on the world. We make excuses because, truthfully, we’re scared that we’re going to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. Here are a few excuses I told myself (sound familiar?) and how I finally overcame them by taking action.
Excuse #1: “I’ll quit my job and move to _______, the city I really want to live in, when I find the perfect job there.”
Result: For three years, I didn’t move to San Francisco, California.
THE TRUTH: How is it physically possible to get a perfect job in a new city when you’re 3,000 miles across the country and haven’t networked or built relationships there? I’ve met about two out of 2,000 people in my life who got a job in a city they didn’t live in. This August, I stopped making excuses and moved to San Francisco (without a job) and got one a month later at The Bold Academy, a life accelerator designed to unlock human potential.
Excuse #2: “I’m really passionate about_______ and was going to start a venture or organization that does _______, but there’s another person/venture who is already doing it, so I need to come up with a new life mission.”
Result: For years, I didn’t start a blog about life inspiration because there were already lots of similar blogs.
THE TRUTH: Everything has already been done before, so get over it. This is not a reason not to do something. Instead, this is a reason to do it better—listen to your gut, create something that reflects your own unique skills and purpose. It may have already been done by another company or app or blogger, but it hasn’t yet been done by YOU, and that’s all that matters. I started my own blog in April, and have been blogging ever since.
Excuse #3: “But I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Result: For years, I didn’t start freelance writing because I didn’t know what I was doing. Because I didn’t start, I didn’t learn anything about freelance writing either.
THE TRUTH: No one really knows what they’re doing when they start something new. You have to start somewhere, so why not start right now? Start writing, start the blog, start researching, start networking, sign-up to volunteer or intern, start the new venture, buy the plane ticket, travel to a new country, try something new, begin now. The sooner you start your path toward what you really want to be doing, the sooner you will reach your goals.
Maybe you will change directions or come up short, but failure and the continuous act of trying will keep you moving forward toward your dreams. I am now a freelance writer, living in San Francisco, and although my pitches sometimes (usually) get rejected, I’m writing and learning every day, and my craft is improving.
Excuses didn’t get me anywhere, and they won’t get you anywhere either, so stop making them, and start taking action.
The stars are aligned right now. Look outside—your favorite food is falling down from the sky. The perfect moment is now. “One day…” is today.
Stop imagining the future. Start living it.
Smiley Poswolsky is Academy Director of The Bold Academy, a life accelerator designed to maximize your potential. Applications for Bold Academy San Francisco are now open. Smiley is also a writer. Check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.