Friday, October 3, 2014

Is It an Excuse or a Reason That Holds You Back?

We sometimes say we want certain things and may talk quite a bit about our ideas, but we don't take the actions needed to make them happen. Perhaps a more honest statement would be, "It would be nice, but I'm not willing (yet, if ever) to do what it takes." That's a better thing to say because it's authentic.

The fact is this: Sometimes reasons, based on facts, do hold you back. But such reasons can point you in another direction or point your attention toward another way to accomplish what you desire to. Someone intent on success, whatever that means to them, makes a plan, figures out resources needed, and gets started, taking step after step until the outcome is reached, however long it takes. Intention (and commitment) sees obstacles as clues about what doesn't work and inspires us to ask what might work instead.

When we say we can't or shouldn't have to do something in order to have what we desire, this is the time to look within. Sometimes, a particular fear is the cause of this mental attitude. Sometimes, it's a belief that doesn't serve us. If there is something you truly want but never seem to be able to attain it or you tend to stop just short of the mark, you want to look at what's holding you back. Your excuses are a good place to start.

Make a list of things you believe you want in life. To the right, make two columns titled, "It Would be Nice, But..." and "Whatever It Takes, I Intend to Make This Happen." Place a checkmark in the correct column for each item you list. This not only distinguishes what you'd like from what you are committed to, but also shows where your energy is going and where it needs to be better directed. Expending energy wishing for or talking about something you’re not committed to taking action on is a huge waste of your precious energy, skills, and talents. It keeps you from realizing your dreams and goals. It also causes those who listen to you to not believe you, if all you do is talk.

Sometimes, what holds a person back is unknown and requires therapy so it can be discovered and then result in a significant shift happening. Maybe time with a life coach will help to discover how to go beyond self-imposed limitations. Maybe the right-for-you self-help book, where you do what’s asked, works like a charm. At the very least, if you categorize what you believe you want into the two columns suggested above, you discover whether an item is a genuine intended goal—or not, as well as where you limit yourself with excuses, or where you plan to succeed. The question is: Do you want to be remembered for your excuses or your successes? Which one allows you to feel the way you desire to feel about yourself? After all, why you want what you say you do is always about how you want to feel about yourself, anyway.

I was contacted by someone who'd read one of my articles and then got my Take This Life and Live It! workbook. Our conversation left me inspired. A major transition is taking place in her life, one most would consider negative. She contacted me because she wants to move forward in the way most appropriate for her. This is courage in action.

The reason I say this woman is courageous is that she doesn't choose to focus on the past. She chooses to focus on the present and strengthen and direct herself so she can better create her future now. She intends to use the workbook to not only better understand what is happening at an inner level (emotions, thoughts), but to also map out how she wants her life to look from this point on (work, relationships, finances, etc.). She intends to make conscious choices on both levels and do what she can to make this journey easier and focused. Detours will arise; but she'll have her direction in mind and will find her way back onto the path to get where she aims to go. Her choice is to respond, not react; to move forward, not stagnate; to be her own compass, her own North Star.

Most of us have to cope with a major life transition at least once in our lives, one where the foundation we believed to be solid beneath us shifts or crumbles, and we find ourselves looking for a foothold. Many deal with the accompanying emotions as best they can and eventually choose to get on with their lives. Some, sadly, choose to stay rooted in pain or frustration. The result of this is either a life not lived fully or a tragic story that makes the news.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage takes action in spite of fear. Action sets you free. It's important to make it Right Action, not reaction. Since this woman decided to face this challenging time in this way, I trust she will accomplish whatever she chooses as she heads forward, deliberately, on her path. Whatever she was before, she is on purpose now. Be on purpose. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.                 
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

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Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at

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