Twentysomethings Make No Excuse: Success is Within Reach
By Jason Dorsey
Author of My Reality Check Bounced!
By the time you reach your twenties, you’ve probably learned that life is not always fair. Stuff happens. Roommates steal from you. Bosses fire you. Boyfriends get needy. Your company goes bankrupt. As a Twentysomething venturing into the real world for the first time, this can be a particularly rude awakening. You may even come to the sobering conclusion that all your formal education wasn’t enough to prepare you for the challenges of adult life.
The big question is: How will you handle these unexpected setbacks and the insecurities they can create? Will you quit on your most meaningful dreams? Smother opportunities with excuses? Point fingers and blame other people? Or will you rise to the adversity of the real world and recognize that life may not be fair, but you control how you deal with it.
How you respond to the challenges you inevitably encounter determines the course of your life. Reaching your dreams is not simply a matter of intelligence or education; it’s a matter of attitude. Your dreams show you what’s possible, but only if you refuse to make excuses when the twists and turns of the real-world attempt to steal your ambition.
When you bravely embrace every frustrating setback and unexpected problem as a golden opportunity to learn and grow, you strengthen your resolve to succeed. Each challenge you conquer gives you more confidence. Each problem you solve makes you wiser for the next one. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, but only when you learn from each difficult experience and apply that knowledge consistently.
In the last ten years, I’ve helped thousands of Twentysomethings who felt stuck in a rut climb on to a more rewarding path. Most of these talented but frustrated people were pushed around in the real world until they gave up on their dreams by giving in to their excuses. While their excuses separated them from the potential pain of facing their problems head-on, it also kept them from learning how to live the life they wanted. When they finally let go of their excuses they gained what they had been missing: the power to succeed on their own terms. Below are the seven excuses that most often keep Twentysomething’s from their dreams. Lose these excuses and you’ll find the courage and confidence to move ahead with your life.
Excuse # 1: Age
Do you believe you’re too young or too old to live the life you want? When you use your age as an excuse, your time on earth becomes more than just a number. You show that you attach an unhealthy expectation to that one measurement. Whatever your age hang up, you must get rid of it to live your dreams at any age. Now is the time to blow out your birthday candles, roll up your sleeves, and start living like you mean it.
If you suffer from the age excuse: 1) Recognize there is no right age to succeed, only right now. 2) Identify five reasons your age is an advantage. 3) Put yourself on a path towards immediate progress by applying for three different jobs, volunteering for a charity, or joining a group where people push you to excellence.
Excuse # 2: Education
Depending on your real-world plan, formal education may be a prerequisite for certain occupations. For some paths, such as becoming a plastic surgeon, you need a medical degree. For other paths, such as becoming a best-selling author or opening your own business, what you need more than a degree is a willingness to learn, work hard, and ask for help. In the real world, a lack of education rarely keeps people from the dreams, but rather a lack of desire to do what it takes to make their dreams come true.
If education is holding you back: 1) Accept it’s not how smart you are, it’s what you do with what you have. 2) Determine if you need a certain degree to reach your dreams, if so get it. 3) Find other people who started in your situation and follow in their footsteps.
Excuse # 3: Family
The vision of a close-knit, loving family that supports you as you spread your wings is a universal idea. But for many Twentysomething’s, receiving unconditional love and support from their family is not always that easy—and not just during the holidays. There may even come a time when you must decide whether you are going to live for your family or yourself. Choose to make your family proud for the long-term by having the confidence to pursue your passion.
If your family doesn’t support you: 1) Ask the most challenging family member to speak with you in private. Explain to them that you are at a crossroad and need their input. 2) Listen without defense until they’ve made their point. Thank them for caring enough to be honest. 3) Think through their comments for a few days. Then make the decision that most feels right. Explain to them why it’s the best decision for you. Thank them for making you strong enough to stand up for your beliefs.
Excuse # 4: Location
Wherever you live—rural Kansas or East L.A.—you can find a way to make your ZIP code an excuse for why you should give up on your dreams. Maybe the people in your town are small-minded, maybe there are no colleges nearby, maybe your neighborhood is unsafe, maybe everyone looks and acts the same way, or maybe you just don’t know where to start. However, when it comes to real-world success it’s not where you start but where you are determined to finish that makes all the difference.
If you feel your location is a disadvantage: 1) Map out three paths starting where you are that lead to where you want to go. 2) Search online for additional options. Ask local leaders for help. 3) Enlist the help of someone who has started where you are and reached a similar goal. Meet with them every two weeks for advice and encouragement.
Excuse # 5: Money
Money—the word alone triggers many emotions. Money is the most common excuse Twentysomething’s use for not chasing their most dreams. In doing so, they’re admitting to the world, “I don’t want to try that hard to succeed.” Whether you believe you don’t have enough money to live your dreams, or are too scared to risk the money you do have, remember: using money as an excuse will eventually bankrupt your spirit.
Instead of using money as an excuse: 1) Get the facts on your financial situation. Figure out how much debt and savings you have. 2) Research your financial options. How can you make more money or decrease expenses? 3) Create a practical financial plan. Put the plan into action. Ask your friends to help you stick to your plan.
Excuse # 6: Physical
Physical challenges remind people every day that life is not fair or easy. Whether you were born with an illness or suffered a career-ending injury, you still must choose how you deal with your situation. You can give in to the pain and earn a victim’s sympathy. Or you can rise to the challenge and inspire those around you as well as yourself. You make that choice, and then you live that choice every day.
To overcome a physical challenge: 1) Recognize that you choose how your physical challenge limits your life. No one can choose for you. 2) Write down three reasons your physical challenge makes you stronger, wiser, or more resilient. 3) Join two organizations that specifically help people with your physical challenge get more out of life. Then take on a big challenge that proves how much power you really have.
Excuse # 7: Time
Every person on earth has the same number of minutes in a day. It’s what you do with your daily allotment of minutes that determines whether you run in circles or take the lead. When you use “not enough time” as an excuse, you reveal that you’re not good at managing your priorities. If you’re not careful with the time you do have, you can end up working hard to make everyone happy but yourself.
To get your schedule under control: 1) Figure out where your time is going each week. How much is being spent on work, family, and play? 2) Compare this to your long-term definition of success. If you’re definition of success involves more than your career, dedicate time each week to your other priorities. 3) Set aside 30 minutes each week as your half-hour to full power. Use this time to better yourself personally.
Whether you are 21 or 29, at some point in your real-world journey you’ll hit a roadblock (or twelve). You may get so frustrated that you second-guess yourself, your dreams, and your abilities. At these defining moments you can hide behind your excuses and act powerless or you can rise to the challenge and grow stronger, wiser, and more resilient. Make no excuse: your dreams deserve your best effort. Treat them as such and you will be rewarded.
© 2007 Jason Ryan Dorsey.
Jason Ryan Dorsey is a bestselling author and international speaker. His newest book, My Reality Check Bounced!, is available at bookstores everywhere.
To learn more about Jason, visit www.jasondorsey.com or www.myrealitycheckbounced.com.