Perhaps there’s a small risk of someone starting a file on me for saying this, but I’m willing to be we all have voices in our heads. I don’t mean the type which whisper murderous thoughts or paranoid conspiracy theories (if you have those, this blog really isn’t an adequate place for you to obtain consultation), but some kind of internal dialogue we have with ourselves, often to justify the decisions we take, or don’t take.
One of the things that voice in our head often does is provide us with excuses. Maybe you have a project which you keep saying you want to start, but you “don’t have time” (probably the most common excuse for everything), or maybe you want to change jobs completely but “I can’t throw my career away”, or “I don’t have the training”. People in corporate IT departments are especially good at excuses - trying that new platform / environment is “too risky” or allowing the CEO to use the device he wants to use would “break corporate standards” or “risk network security”. Maybe that customer or employee has a great idea for a new service or change in approach, but it’s “too hard to get there from here”, or “would probably cost too much”.
Very often, excuses are just people building a natural safety buffer about themselves to avoid having to deal with something that’s a little bit scary, difficult or unknown. If you tell yourself (or other people) that there’s some considered reason or analytical risk which stops you from going out on that limb, for taking a bit of risk, then that’s a comfy position to leave yourself in. It’s not you making the decision to resist taking that step, it’s an unavoidable environmental factor. A global immutable constant. It’s comforting to think about it like that, because then it’s not your fault that another year passed and you feel like it’s a re-run of the one before.
We’re all complex and I’m not going to tell you what’s right or wrong for you, but here’s my experience: taking a few risks, trying new things, embarking on something when you have no idea where it will take you - these are all good things, and you do yourself a disservice by avoiding them. Now, I’m not a huge risk taker, I’m not high-rolling in Vegas or blagging my way into risky business ventures or anything, but I recognise that taking some considered risks, and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, is necessary to get anywhere - something that I’ve come to appreciate a lot in the last few years particularly. Besides, it’s almost never as bad as you imagine, and having taken the plunge you might be surprised how well you can figure stuff out as you go along.
So when I find myself coming up with a list of reasons why I can’t do something, I find it useful to roll out a simple mental phrase: ‘No Excuses’ . For added effect, imagine it’s being boomed out by James Earl Jones, who is staring down at you with that intense, serious gaze of his - there’s just no bullsh*tting him ;). There’s a decent chance that some or perhaps all of those things that you think are impediments are really just excuses - and you’re really better off without them. No excuses, just try it - what’s the worst that could happen?