Existential Psychology

Overcoming Excuses

By  | 

“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
– Epictetus

When people talk about their unfulfilled dreams and aspirations you are likely to hear a lot of excuses and rationalizations. Some of us become pretty adept at pulling the wool over our own eyes. Unconsciously we search for that plausible explanation that lets us off the hook so that we don’t have to confront the fear that accompanies taking those first uncertain, wobbly steps towards our destiny.

One of the excuses that works best, probably because there is sometimes truth to it, is that moving forward with a plan is not possible without the sanction of some authoritative body. Part of the maturation process is moving from the childlike state of needing others to direct your development to the adult state of directing your own development, but many people who look like adults on the outside never break through the bubble. They remain dependent all their lives on the opinions of authority figures, believing they can’t move forward without that external approval from the deity who lowers their existential anxiety by taking the responsibility for decisions out of their hands.

If there is something you want to be, start being that thing right now. Don’t wait for someone else to give you the thumbs up because approval might never come. You’re wasting your precious time sitting around hoping that somehow it will all work out on its own. Most of us think that who we are determines what we do. But the reverse can be true too, that what we do determines who we are.

Don’t give yourself the easy excuse that your dream is unattainable because of forces outside of your control. Find a way to start walking down that path today, even if it’s a small, seemingly insignificant step. Sanctioning bodies have their uses, they are sometimes necessary to insure a minimum level of competence, but as long as you’re not breaking the law or doing something unethical there is no reason why you can’t fully immerse yourself in a field or discipline even if you haven’t yet received the nod of approval from an authority figure.

Your actions are the ground upon which you stand. They are what will define you when your life comes to an end, not your wishes and dreams. If you can summon up the courage to go for it, you might fail, but at least you’ll go down swinging, and you won’t be saddled with the profound regret that accompanies knowing exactly what you were meant to do but always waiting for someone else to tell you it was okay to do it.