I met a woman the other day. Let’s call her Dana. “What do you want to do most?” she asked. “To focus on my writing,” I said.
“So what’s stopping you?”
“Life,” I answered. “My job, my kids, housework, you know, life.”
She looked me straight in the eye. “All excuses.”
I was taken aback. “No seriously, there’s no time. I’m so busy. By the time the day is over and I get into bed, I’m tired.”
“You’re not really serious about writing,” she said.
“I AM serious.”
“No, you’re not. If you were, you’d do it. YOU make the time. Do you by any chance, find yourself making excuses in your life for other things?”
I thought about exercising and how once, I used to be an aerobics instructor. Now I put off exercising constantly, always finding something else to do. My excuses are endless: Someone is coming over. I have to do laundry. I have to make dinner. It’s too cold to go outside. I don’t feel like it today. I didn’t want to answer. “Maybe,” I answered slowly.
“You’re a procrastinator and you’re not serious. Once you get serious and if it’s really important to you, you’ll make the time to write.”
The truth hurts. Sometimes it’s not even delivered in a gentle way but if we can get past the manner of delivery and acknowledge the truth, that WE hold ourselves back, we can learn a lot. I’ve been thinking about what Dana said. For years I’ve blamed my circumstances for not achieving what I want, but the truth is, if I want to get fit and complete another adult book, it takes focus, dedication and tenacity. These things will never get done if I don’t make the time to do them. One may have talent and luck, even people willing to help, but it’s up to each individual to put in time and effort. As simple as this sounds, it’s easier to make excuses. People who say to me, “Oh dear, I feel so bad for you. You need more time to do what you love,” aren’t helping me. I love those people by the way, because they enable me and they become part of my “pity party.”
The people who really help are the ones who say, “stop making excuses and get on with it. Stop thinking about doing it and do it.”
I don’t like those people as much (at first) but they are the ones from whom I learn the most.
I guess it’s easier to stay in our comfort zone but it’s worth it to stop the excuses. There are people in wheelchairs who’ve done marathons. We grow by stepping out of our comfort zone. “Do one thing a day that scares you.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Take caution though, when trying to help someone else. Not everyone is ready to hear the truth. And don’t give people unsolicited advice. They’ll only be resentful. I wanted the truth from Dana and she was a serious but gentle soul.