What have you done?

You might think you’re powerless but that’s the easy excuse.

Nobody is powerless.

Even just setting an example by the way you live could have a bigger impact than you realize.

It’s so easy to point at other people and complain, “They should be doing such and such a thing.”

Or whine, “Why aren’t they doing this other thing?”

But are you doing it?

What have you done to make the world a better place? Maybe those people think the same about you.

Before pointing fingers, throwing stones, or smearing shit, start by asking, “What am I doing to make the world better?”

Every time I ask myself this question, the answer is, “Not enough.”

And every time I ask myself, “Am I setting the right example in the way I live?”

I find that I could be doing that a lot better too.

Beware comforting stories

When people talk about identity what they’re saying is: “This is my story.”

Whether that’s where we came from, what we believe, the food we like or who we have sex with, it’s all part of our story.

For many years I told myself stories like, “I’m not a morning person,” or “I’m an introvert,” or “I can’t write every day,” or “rich people are bad,” or “stopping smoking is hard.”

Worst of all, I told myself I didn’t have anything to add to the world.

But no matter how many times I told myself those silly tales, deep inside I knew they weren’t true. And I was slowly killing myself trying to drown that little voice every time it spoke up to remind me so.

Because the stories we tell ourselves are the fluffy cushions that make our comfort zone so comforting. But they’re also the locks that keep us there.

Luckily, we hold the keys. And it’s never too late to change the story.

Perfection is a dirty lie

‘Perfect’ might just be the most useless, mean, and stupid word in the English language.

It trips us up and it holds us back and it turns our heads.

First, let’s get this one thing clear: perfection doesn’t exist.

It’s an illusion of the mind.

Everyone from Plato to Taylor Swift has said this.

If you’re waiting for the ‘perfect time’ or the ‘perfect job’ or the ‘perfect idea’ you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time.

The irony is that the word ‘perfect’ comes from the Latin word for ‘completed’ or ‘accomplished.’

Instead of aiming to create something ‘perfect,’ we should aim just to complete it.

Accomplishing something badly is far closer to perfection than never starting it at all.

Fuck perfection.

I’m happy with getting it done.

Why your excuses are making you unhappy

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made a lot of excuses over the years. This blog right here came through about 5 years of excuses. At least.

Ever since I was a kid. When I think about it, most of them were actually lies.

“Sorry Mum, but she hit me first!” (I doubt my little sister would have)

“Sorry Sir, the train was late.” (I was smoking weed before school)

“Sorry Babe, but I left my phone in the other room” (I was with another girl)

Yep, that last one is pretty bad. And they’re all definitely lies.

Someone once told me, ‘Excuses are lies that only you believe.’

That one really stung. Probably because it was true.

Do you want to know the worst bit?

The person you spend the most time making excuses to is yourself.

If you’re anything like me, you make a tonne of excuses to yourself, all day, every day. They’re probably so part of your internal monologue you barely notice. I barely do.

But you should notice them because they’re stopping you from living the life you want to live. They’re what’s stopping you from losing weight, finding love, stopping smoking, writing that book, making that film, singing that song…

Whatever it is, your excuses are crippling your life.

Don’t believe me? Do any of these sound familiar…?

‘I’m too tired to…’

‘I don’t have enough time to…’

‘I don’t have the money to…’

‘I’m not attractive enough…’

Most of have a neat little personal arsenal of excuses up our sleeves too. And we’re in the habit of using them, all too often.

Usually, it goes something like this…

You get inspired by something and this little voice pipes up with an idea. You get pumped about the idea. You might even start doing it.

But, sooner or later, your excuses wade in and it’s game over…

‘I don’t live in the right place…’

‘I don’t have the right tools or knowledge…’

Your idea fizzles out.

I swear I used to just make ideas happen all the time when I was a kid.

But, maybe all those years wasted ‘learning’ useless crap at school filled up my brain so much the little ideas couldn’t come out.

But, maybe I was so scared of the darkness in the world that the little idea was too scared to leap out of my head into the real, to become something beautiful, or funny, or useful.

But, maybe I just fucked my brain up so much on drugs and pissed my time away partying and it’s just too late.

Those were a couple of Ben’s homemade excuses right there for you.

The truth is, most of the time we’re just scared. We’re scared of failure, or of being disliked, or losing something, or someone.

That ancient, lizard part of your brain sniffs a change in the breeze and freezes. New = danger. Danger = bad. Ergo, New = bad. Stay where you are. Here = safe.

Excuses are just a highly-evolved version of this part of our brain, which is solely designed to keep us alive, away from danger. Not exploring the world and being creative.

But today, they’re the easiest way to fool yourself that you’re not the one solely in charge of your life. The easiest way to avoid the discomfort of changing anything.

And the most certain way never to do those things you wanted to.

In the words of Jordan Belfort, “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Well, F.U. Excuses. This little idea made it out.

It actually made it out a little while back, but it didn’t quite look like this. I kept it, and it grew!

It’s still growing, so I thought you might like to see it grow, and maybe it can help you too.

But the only reason it made it out is this – I stopped making excuses.

I started listening to what I was actually saying to myself, and what I was saying to the people around me about my life. It was not pretty. Or encouraging. It was a bunch of excuses.

Once I listened to myself, it was obvious why I was failing. I was telling myself I had failed before I even started!

So, what excuses are you telling yourself every day?

Who are they turning you into?

Listen to yourself for a little. And then let me know what you heard.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash