Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. He should believe in himself.
—Ferris Beuller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
What's Your Excuse?
Even though we make every effort to get to our goals we sometimes may find that they still seem to be just out of reach and we can't explain why. We've done our work. We've listed our characteristics and qualities. We've drawn our imaginings out. We've shifted our focus to more positive, hopeful thoughts. We've written our new and better story, but we still seem to be stuck in the muck. So what could be going on?
One barrier to fully stepping into your new story and allowing all of your work to get results for you is that you may have an underlying excuse holding you back. Excuses (typically driven by hidden fears) are plentiful, and we often use them to justify and perpetuate our current situation of lack and limitation. This applies to all situations. Many of us will even fight to keep our excuses in place, inadvertently sabotaging the deserving gift of living the life we were meant to live. But once you identify your excuse, your awareness will help you more powerfully step into your story, own your fears and still move forward.
A Lesson from the Ultimate Excuse-Maker
In Ferris Beuller's Day Off (one of the best movies to come out of the 80s), excuses are the bedrock of the storyline. Ferris and his friends create an elaborate series of excuses in order to have the best day ever skipping school. Sure, in reality they were resisting facing graduation, the inevitable evolution into adulthood and the fear of growing apart, but the spirit with which they wove their excuses and stories not only fooled everyone but took us on a raucous ride of entertainment and thought-provoking dialogue, including this opening monologue from Matthew Broderick:
Excuse Neutralizer Play
In this Play you will do a visualization where you project yourself into the future state of having your ideal work. After your visualization, you'll list any speed bumps (aka negative emotions, concerns, doubts etc.) that arose during your visualization. Take each speed bump and explore by answering "what if..." questions that help you mine the fear buried within. Then, you'll take each and write a positive statement that results in a more positive emotion (more toward your Magnetic North) and neutralizes your fear.
- VISUALIZATION: Imagine yourself in your ideal work experience. What are you doing? How do you feel? What is now possible that you are in this place doing the work that you love to do? Who are you being while you are working, creating and serving? How has your daily schedule changed? How has your personal life changed? What does your family think of what you're doing? What are you doing now that you weren't doing before? Explore many different aspects until you hit your speed bumps.
- SPEED BUMPS: List the concerns, worries, doubts, fears, negative emotions that arose during your visualization. Examples: doubt/disbelief your ideal work even exists, stress over earning the right amount of money doing your work, competition, afraid of failing or getting fired, changes in the marketplace for what you offer, there's no such job description or job type for exactly what you want to do, etc.
- EXPLORATION: Take each speed bump and add it to the end of this sentence: "What if..." and then answer the question, such as, Question: "What if the job I really want doesn't pay enough for me to live on?" Answer: "I am afraid that if I go do that job I really want to do that I won't make enough money to survive and I'll have to go back and get a "real" job so I can earn enough to live on. I'm afraid that I'll never get to do what I truly want to do because I'd have to change my whole living situation just to support myself." (Note that you should arrive at some base fear or story you believe to be true about the what if statement. This is why you are making an excuse not to live the ideal work you say you really want.)
- NEUTRALIZE: Look at your fears/stories and excuses. Write a new story (use the Appreciative Inquiry approach) about how it could unfold for you, easing and owning the fear and neutralizing its ability to stop you from manifesting your ideal work. For example: "The work I really want to do helps others, and there is value in that. I know there are others who feel the same way I do, and they have been able to do this type of work and they have done very well in some cases. There are also organizations that have the job I want to do that have a better structure in how they generate income and I know I can find them and find my place among their ranks. There also may be an opportunity or partnership out there that I don't even know about that can not only allow me to do the work I love to do, but also provide income well above what I've made to date. I can also go out on my own and do this work and cut out the middle man and generate more profits for myself by going direct, which could really be fun. I know that when I really get to do the work I love, nothing else matters and the financial benefit will come as it has for others. Bonus: Draw out the scenes of your ideal work after you've completed writing the new story, such as pictures of you doing the work and still being able to afford the things you want and/or live at the level you want to.