What Excuse Are You Defending?
If we want to do something, we won't do it by doing other things.
This is an article that is directed to all of us who find excuses getting in the way of the next important step in our lives. I am a prone to this as much as anyone else. Hopefully we can beat this beast, but awareness is a good start.
Recently I was talking to an artist who suffered with one tried and tested excuse: "I do not have the time!" was her constant refrain. To anyone who has seen her crafts and creations their immediate response would be "I want one" and "you should be selling these, they are great!" She would laugh and say ... yup you guessed it: " I just don't have the time." This has been going on for years. Of course to all those looking on it does seem that this artist is indeed very busy. If she says she does not have a moment well so be it. What a pity though because her work is superb and she loves creating things.
Sound familiar? So after all these years of procrastination due to deep fears of failure (the root issue) this artist decided recently that she could find some time. Suddenly this excuse was gone. Sure it would be easy if she cut out a few silly TV shows (used to be her reward for a busy day) and organised her chores a bit better. An hour a day was freed up. Fantastic!
Except instead of getting stuck in for an hour a day creating her wonderful works of art she developed a new excuse. "What's the point?" she would say. "It's not like I can make a living doing this. I cannot give up my day job so why do all this extra work?" This was a real doozy of an excuse. We argued the point for a bit, however she would get defensive so we left it there. Is it not bizarre how we will defend our excuse? Get all hot under the collar if anyone should dare to shed light on a flimsy excuse that we are clutching onto.
It does seem that the tendency is to always revert to an excuse no matter how much progress is made. Only by awareness and some real guts do we get past the hurdle and progress further. You may love to paint, but are terrified of trying out for your first sale. Once the sales start you are avoiding the next step - raising the bar and going semi-pro. Then next up might be an exhibition. What if no one is interested? Too busy, too expensive, not good enough, this town hates artists and so on. Go professional? Take lessons? No way - I just want to paint in my own time. All excuses.
So we can all admit to having our personal excuse. Have you identified yours? Can you defeat it? Do you covet the excuse and protect it jealously even to the point of anger?
I have read many articles about dealing with procrastination. Without fail they oversimplify it. Like a teacher might sound trying to encourage a child: " Go on it will do you good". This does not cut it for for adults struggling with the problem. Perhaps Steven Pressfield gets close to the heart of it in his book The War of Art.
Until we stand aside and flick the switch to shed light on our mind-made issue we will not overcome the excuse. When we decide to break through we realise that there was nothing there to begin with.
The smoke clears and the road lies ahead.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa