“But,” it’s probably one of the most crippling words in our vocabulary and often the hardest to kick. Think about it. So many of us have dreams and goals that end with “but.”
BUT… I don’t have enough time.
BUT… I’m not good enough.
BUT… It’s already been done.
When we add “but” or “someday” or “if only” to our dreams we often hold ourselves back with an excuse for inaction. Because the truth is we have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé, self-discipline and endurance can trump talent, and there’s enough room for all of us to chase our passions. If we want to create a life that we love, a life where we feel deeply fulfilled, it takes self-awareness and action. You have to know what you want and then actually show up to pursue them.
Sounds pretty obvious right? But there are so many feelings that can creep up and distract us from reaching our goals. Here are a few types of kryptonite that we’ve all fallen victim to:
Fear is the number one thing that holds people back from finding (and living out) their full potential. Fear is tricky to notice because it can sneak into our subconscious as a tiny seed of doubt, slowing us down with thoughts like, “I don’t have what it takes,” “what if I fail,” or “what will people think?" and so on. Over time though, these small thoughts can snowball, leaving even the best of us with a pile of “what ifs” that can paralyze us from taking action.
We all want to put our best selves out into the world. But the attempt to be “perfect” can also keep us stuck. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details, which can lead to self-sabotaging our growth as we wait for everything to be “just so” before we move forward.
So many of us walk around carrying the weight of unneeded stress and feeling overwhelmed—chasing our version of success one check mark at a time. It’s so easy to get caught up in all-of-the-things that we think we should be doing, including those menial tasks that don’t actually help us gain any real ground toward our goals. But the truth is, complexity is the enemy of execution. Working in an endless state of feeling overwhelmed isn’t proactive and it slows down our efficiency and progress.
Loss of Excitement
When we’re passionate about something, our desire can outweigh and override the hustle needed to reach our goals. But if we lose the excitement and the passion behind what we’re working toward and why, our drive can easily fizzle away as well. This can leave us feeling unmotivated and quite honestly, blah about the work in front of us which opens the door to any type of excuse or distraction.
So how do we kick the excuses and stay focused on our goals when the feelings of fear, stress, overwhelm, or a lack of motivation stand in our way? Here are four quick tips to help you kick the “but...” and stay on top of your game.
1 | Make sure your vision is clear.
Take some time to really visualize your goal. When you have a clear vision, and you’re working toward something that you're passionate about, your desire can propel you past the doubt or fear. The future vision of your goal coming to life can act as a springboard to push you forward out of the struggle (whether it be stress, overwhelm, or just feeling meh).
2 | Prioritize and Plan.
Take time to thoughtfully break down your goals. When we have huge dreams, it's easy to get overly ambitious and want to accomplish everything all at once. But when you take on more than you can handle, it can quickly lead to that feeling of being overwhelmed which in turn can lead to burnout. So, it’s important to pull the reins and remember that it’s a long-term game. Be strategic in planning out how you will reach your goals; break them up into annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly mini-goals (working forward one step at a time).
3 | Take Action—again and again.
It’s easy to take action when we’re in the zone, but sometimes we have to commit to ourselves and take action even when we don’t necessarily feel like it—i.e. when fear walks in the door.
It’s also natural for our brains to coax us to stay in the comfort zone, to resist change. But if you want to reach your goals, you have to be willing to put in the work and embrace the not-so-great feelings sometimes. I'm not saying that you need to subscribe to a lifestyle of stress or overwhelm, but it’s important to expect seasons of hustle–where you'll have to roll up your sleeves and put in the work.
4 | Choose your thoughts.
Too many of us listen to our thoughts instead of choosing which thoughts we actually want to think. (Let that soak in for a moment.) We may not have a choice over our circumstances, but we can always choose our thoughts. There’s a lot of mindset training out there, but a quick way to keep your thoughts in check is to use a simple mantra that can help you to stay grounded and focused.
At Create & Cultivate NYC (Spring 2019), we had the opportunity to listen to the fabulous Ashley Graham. She shared a simple but powerful mantra that she uses to remind herself of her worth, “I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful.” So good, right?!
Regardless of where you are in chasing your dreams, and no matter how big your “but” is, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Everyone with a pulse deals with their own kind of fear and doubt. Chasing big goals isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
If you’re serious about reaching your and living your fullest potential you’ll need to get comfortable being bold and taking action again and again (despite the fear). And it all starts with kicking the excuses and the “but” out of your vocabulary.
Sasha Kill is the founder and lead designer at Outlaw Creative where she’s on a mission to empower entrepreneurs to grow their brands in remarkable ways. With an extensive background in marketing design and online strategy her clients include best-selling authors, celebrity chefs, world renowned artists, and multiple self-made 7 figure businesses. You can find her insights on design, marketing, and branding on www.outlawcreative.com.