Have you ever noticed that although your lawn takes careful watering and fertilizer to look its best, the weeds and thorns seem to grow and flourish without effortlessly? With no help, these lawn enemies are always lurking, waiting for the opportunity to cheat you out of a great looking lawn.
And so it is with life, the little “thorns” out there that rob people out of having a great life.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Bible parable of sowing and reaping, how some of the gardener’s seeds fall upon fertile soil, while many fell on bad soil, rocks and even some amongst the thorns.
And here’s the thing…
As plants grow, the thorns also grow and choke the plants, robbing them of essential nutrients so they cannot produce. Generally no attention is given to weeding or removing the thorns, they are allowed to grow alongside the plant having access to the same nutrients and water supply. The weeds flourish, grow strong, overtake the plants and make them unfruitful.
Jim Rohn talked about this in one of his best essays…
The thorns are going to get some. And that’s not of your making.
And what are these thorns? The story even called these little thorns little cares, little distractions, little something’s. Who knows what all they are.
I said, “John, we had a meeting last night. You weren’t here.” And John says, “Well, I can’t make every meeting.”
I say, “Why not? You’re part-time.”
He said, “Well, the screen door came off the hinges and you can’t just let your house fall apart. You’ve got to take some time and fix things up.”
And I can hear the thorns growing. He said, “Some extra trash had piled up in the garage. You can’t let mountains of trash take over. You’ve got to keep your trash hauled out.”
People who let little things cheat them out of big opportunities…
Can you hear any thorns growing in your life, those oft-repeated “screen door” statements that are cheating you out of big opportunities?
Here’s a few of the most common…
I need to do more research.
This is one of the most-used “screen door” excuses out there, cheating countless people out of a better life. Look, being prepared is a virtue but it can be a bad thing when over used. Unless you’re doing serious lab work to find cures for rare diseases, you’re probably using this statement as a delay tactic to keep from doing serious work towards your goals.
If you’re using this excuse related to stock and real estate investing or starting a business, I can practically guarantee you that this is a crutch for you. Why? Because, there’s so much information out there on how to be successful in these areas – libraries overflowing with books, the boundless internet and countless real-world examples. The point here is that you probably have enough information to begin my friend. Just begin. You’re smart. You’ll figure it out if it doesn’t work as planned. Pull this weed from your garden and stop sabotaging yourself.
I can’t spend that much time away from my kids/family
Now, if you’re a parent and you’ve used this excuse before, this is going to hurt a little. Many parents use this “screen door” because it’s supremely defensible. After all, who’s going to argue with the person who says “I have to put my family first”? Nobody. This is a sensitive area. But here’s the thing – working on your goals doesn’t have to be an either/or choice with family. There’s countless examples of people achieving wealth while also having a family.
No doubt, balancing kids while achieving big goals is tough. It’s a balancing act, but it’s doable. It requires discipline and maximum use of productive time. And if you’re being honest with yourself, there’s probably more “productive time” out there than you think – young kids need to go to bed early, older kids are in school during the day and then there’s homework in the evening and soccer practice on the weekend. You can find the time. At the end of the day you may feel shattered. Keep it up, you’ll build endurance.
Here’s something else that will help you counter any guilt you may feel for working on your goals while balancing a family life – would your kids really want you to sacrifice your dreams? I don’t think so. In the same way that parents want the best for their kids, kids want what’s best for their parents. But if each generation gives up on their dreams so that the next generation can follow theirs, then nobody ends up living their dream. The baton is passed, without a single step in the right direction.
It’s important to communicate your passion for a better life with your family. Get to the core of why it’s important to you and really open up. Be willing to have multiple conversations about it, and really hear their reservations. Come up with a plan for the ”worst possible scenario” together and keep your family informed on your progress, which will get them involved and rooting for you. Also, be prepared to let go of some “cherished” ideas. But dig deep into the important ideas (i.e. Why should we do this…?”), as it’s a lot better than “Can we do this…?” Take a long look at things and ask yourself, is this a legitimate reason for not working on your goals, or is “family” a screen door excuse?
The conditions aren’t right
Oh boy, this one is the evil twin-sister to the “I need to do more research” excuse. Look, the conditions will never be right and you know what? Conditions don’t really matter if you hustle. How do I know this? Because there are countless successful businesses that were started in dire times – Hyatt Corporation was formed during the 1957 recession as was Trader Joe’s. Microsoft started in the recession-plagued early 80’s as did CNN.
The “conditions aren’t right” excuse is the fear of the unknown. The reality is that most people can’t afford not to take a risk right now. I’ll say it again, they can’t afford the luxury of not taking a few risks.
As I’ve said many times, there are countless claims of ordinary people doing extraordinary things but that’s not what I see. What I see is a lot of extraordinary people just doing ordinary things, thinking that they’ll get to that big goal later. I have news for them – you won’t. You never do. Get it to now. No better time than the present. Once you start, you’ll be glad you did because you’ll get that ever-so-addictive feeling of accomplishment that comes with even a little bit of success. Don’t wait for things to be perfect. As Emerson once said, “the world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Go forth my friend!
Remember, excuses originate inside your head as obstacles to keep you from moving forward in life. It’s important to rewire your mindset so you don’t naturally create roadblocks for accomplishing your goals. Use your excuses as an opportunity. Reframe them in a positive manner. This can help you gain momentum. These excuses are all in your head. They’re part of a “screen door” story you are telling yourself. Once you acknowledge these stories, you can begin to write your new story and get closer to accomplishing your goals.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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