My Big Bucket of Excuses: Why I Haven’t Pursued My Dreams (Until Now)

If you’re anything like me, you probably have dreams—big goals or aspirations that you’d like to accomplish during the course of your life.

Over the years, I’ve had different dreams. At one time or another, I’ve wanted to: own a lake house, write another book (in you’re curious, here’s the link to my first “exciting” book), and travel to Santorini, to name just a few.

More recently, I’ve focused my efforts on a couple of different dreams.

For a long time, I’ve dreamed of getting back into the kind of shape I was in toward the end of my graduate school days.

I’ve also dreamed of getting back into a band and playing guitar in front of people (a dream that’s on the verge of happening, by the way!).

In reality, neither of these dreams is overly complicated. To get back into shape, I need to eat a healthy diet, devote time to exercise, and make sure I’m getting enough sleep. Similarly, playing in a band entails nothing more than getting together with other musicians, learning some songs, and finding people who want to listen to those songs.

It’s literally that simple.

(Please note that “simple” is not necessarily the same as “easy.” It may require some hard work to achieve these particular dreams, but the steps to getting there are very straightforward.)

But have I done either of those things?

Well, if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, then you already know.

The answer is No!

Although I’ve wanted to lose weight for years, only recently have I finally committed my time and energy to making it a reality that lasts longer than a few months.

Although I’ve wanted to play in a band for years, only recently have I finally contacted some people about starting a band.

The funny part is that I’ve done both successfully in the past: I’ve lost weight at different times in my life, and I played in bands for years when I was younger. Which means that both of these dreams are definitely achievable.

So why is it that I haven’t accomplished these goals, even though I believe them to be very important dreams of mine?

There are probably a few different reasons, but there’s one reason that’s definitely toward the top of the list.

My Big Bucket of Excuses

One of the primary reasons I haven’t (yet) achieved my weight loss and music goals is because I’m full of excuses: I have a big bucket of excuses, and I’m constantly reaching into it to come up with another reason for why I can’t pursue my dreams.

My guess is that I’m not the only one with a big bucket of excuses. In reality, most of us probably have at least a small—and possibly much larger—bucket nearby.

I’m guessing that most, if not all, of us have used some form of the following sentence recently: “I’d really love to ______, but I can’t because ______.” I know I have.

So, if that’s the case, let’s take a minute to talk about it.

First, though, let’s make sure we understand exactly what an “excuse” is.

What the Heck is an Excuse?

Merriam-Webster defines “excuse” as “a reason that you give to explain a mistake [or] bad behavior.”

I find it really interesting that this definition includes the words “mistake” and “bad behavior.” When we make excuses, then, it often means that we made a mistake or behaved in ways we shouldn’t have.

So what about dreams?

If we’re making excuses for not pursuing our dreams, it means that not pursuing our dreams is a mistake. Not pursuing our dreams is a form of bad behavior.

At some level, I think many of us know this. We know that we should be pursuing our dreams. We know that not pursuing them is probably a mistake. We know that it’s inappropriate to let others completely dictate our lives, rather than trying to make our own dreams a reality.

And because we are not pursuing our dreams, we have to come up with reasons to excuse our bad behavior—to justify why we’re not spending time and effort on these things that mean so much to us.

For me, this has definitely been the case.

What about losing weight?

How about: “I don’t have time to exercise.” “Eating healthy is hard when I’m working so many hours.” “At the end of the day, I’m too tired to cook a healthy meal.” “Pushing myself during exercise is uncomfortable.” “I’m getting a little older, and I want to make sure I don’t hurt myself while I’m lifting weights.” “I want to be able to go out with my friends for some wings and beer.” “I like having pizza with my boys, and eating healthy deprives me of that pleasure.” “I travel quite a bit during the school year, and eating healthy while traveling is difficult.” And so on…

What about joining a band and playing guitar?

Here’s the biggie: “I’m probably not good enough to be in a band yet.”

As you can see, when it comes to pursuing my dreams, I’ve had plenty of reasons—or excuses—for not chasing them. And obviously, I’ve talked myself into believing that these excuses are “important.” Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing about how I should be pursuing them—I’d have accomplished them by now.

But I haven’t.


So what can we do about this? Well, I got one idea the other day.

Your Excuses or Your Dreams

A few day ago, I was listening to a podcast by “former-pro-athlete-turned-lifestyle-entrepreneur” Lewis Howes (Twitter: @LewisHowes). In this podcast, Howes discussed the idea of excuses and how they often hold us back from achieving our goals. Then he asked a question that really struck me:

“Are your excuses more important than your dreams?”

I rewound that particular portion of the podcast and listened to the question several times.

“Are your excuses more important than your dreams?”

The answer to that question was incredibly clear to me: No!

I’ve been thinking about losing weight and joining a band for years, so obviously they’re important to me. They’re my dreams!

When I think about what I want to accomplish and how I know I would feel when I achieve these dreams, there’s no comparison. Of course these dreams are more important than my excuses.

I can come up with reason after reason for why I shouldn’t pursue my goals and dreams. But when it comes right down to it, my excuses pale in comparison to my dreams.

I think it’s time for me to stop using excuses to justify my “mistakes.” It’s time to stop using excuses to justify my “bad behavior.” Instead, it’s time to take action and do the simple (and sometimes complicated) things that I know will help me achieve my goals.

There’s no doubt about it: My dreams are definitely more important than my excuses.

What about you?


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3 thoughts on “My Big Bucket of Excuses: Why I Haven’t Pursued My Dreams (Until Now)”

  1. I didn’t realize you had a blog! I enjoyed reading it and agree with what you have written. It is very interesting concept to question which is more important, your dreams or your excuses? As I finished reading your blog I also wondered, “what purpose do our excuses serve for us or what do we gain from not achieving our dreams?” Weird question. But we do things or don’t do things for a reason. I wonder what the secondary gain is for not achieving our dreams or finding new excuses to rationalize our lack of success towards reaching our goals? Secondary gains can and will be different for all of us.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jessie. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that chasing our dreams can be risky (although it’s often no riskier than any other choice . . . we just think it is). When we’re concerned about failure, we avoid taking the chance. And avoiding things creates a vicious cycle where not having anything “bad” happen makes us more likely to avoid again in the future (in psychology, it’s a form of negative reinforcement).

  2. Very true. I do believe that the fear of failure and avoiding things does create a vicious cycle. What about change? We all know how much humans love change. Although there are exceptions, change is uncomfortable and we like homeostasis. Attempting to chase our dreams and Achieving our dreams both elicit change. Once we achieve our dreams, then what? Things change. Our routine changes. New dreams must be created in order to continue to grow and to keep moving forward. Most importantly, how we define ourselves changes. We define who we are by what we do or what roles we fill. I am a daughter, sister, friend, student, teacher, athlete, musician, etc. when we achieve our dreams, we may redefine ourselves. Redefining ourselves is typically a positive thing but it means change. And change is scary or uncomfortable. But we can’t grow without change. So possibly, the fear of success or reaching our dreams can be just as strong as fear of failure.

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