- Mike X
How To End The Excuses And Make Massive Progress
I have a question for you.
And I promise this is going to be the most important question anyone has asked you in a very long time.
It’s about doing the things you know would make your life better.
The question is this:
What’s stopping you?
When you think about what your life could be, what’s stopping you from getting there?
You know there’s more for you.
You might have a pretty clear picture of what life could be.
Or maybe it’s just a feeling you have that your life is meant to be something more than this.
Picture yourself being 93 years old—or 103—whenever it is for you that you’re getting ready to go.
And, I mean, really see yourself sitting there, looking back at your life.
Now, see me right there with you, looking you in the eye, saying,
“What do you think? Did you do everything you came here to do?”
You hear that and your mind scans back across the years.
It scans back to this moment right now, and you’re thinking about whether there was more you could have done.
More you could be doing right now to get the most out of this life—to squeeze all the joy and happiness and fulfillment you can get out of the very short period you’re on this planet.
Is there more? Of course there is! You know damn well there’s more!
So back to my question:
What’s stopping you?
Let me tell you why this question is everything. Why it’s the key that can unlock a new universe for you.
Well, here’s a hint: Your answer to that question is... bullshit!
And recognizing that is the first step to getting where you need to be. Where you deserve to be.
And if you don’t take that step, it ain’t gonna happen.
So let me help you with that.
To start, think about all the things you know you could do that would take you in a positive direction.
Things you’re either putting off or you’re doing but not giving the time and effort that it would take to get the results you want.
And now make a list—in your mind if you want, but on paper would be better—of the things that are stopping you.
Not enough time?
Not enough money?
Not enough support from other people?
Not believing you have the talent or ability to do it?
Alright—take a long, hard look at these excuses.
Now you’re at a fork in the road.
There are two ways you can go.
You can say to yourself,
“Yup, these are damn good excuses. And I’m standing by them!”
(If that’s you, you might as well skip the rest of this chapter.)
For everyone else... you say to yourself,
“These excuses are crap. They’re total lies.
And I’m getting rid of them!”
Because you know that you do have the time, and you do have the ability, and you don’t need more money or more support.
You just need to do it.
Look, this is all about how much you want it.
If you’re accepting these excuses from yourself, then you don’t actually want it all that much.
If your goals were more than goals—if they were what you absolutely need from life and can’t possibly live without—then there would be no excuses.
Now, there’s a trick that our minds play on us, and it might be happening in your mind right now.
Here’s what we say to ourselves:
“No, I’m not letting lame excuses get in my way...
When I say ‘I don’t have time,’ I mean, ‘I don’t have time right now.’
But I will...
...after I get this project done.
...after I graduate.
...after I get that promotion.”
You pick some arbitrary milestone and say “after that.”
“It’s just... I don’t have the money to do it right now, but I will...
...after I get that raise... Or after that person pays me back...”
Your mind points at something in the future and says, “That is when I can get started.”
So you trick yourself into thinking,
“I’m just being realistic.
I’m planning—not making lame excuses.”
And then you go back to watching videos and being comfortable.
Because you feel like you just got something done by telling yourself you’re gonna do it in the future.
But you know what you’re doing.
You know that, when the time comes, when you’ve got that promotion or got married or moved into a new place—whatever you’re telling yourself has to happen first—there’s going to be something else. Some future event that has to happen before you can get started.
The reason you know this is simple: If you were really going to get started then—you’d get started now.
And, even though you know this, you allow yourself to be tricked.
We all do this. And I’ll tell you why: Because we have two million year old brains that were designed to make us survive, not to make us happy.
Our brains evolved to keep us doing as little as possible beyond the level of just surviving, because burning a single calorie more than we needed to was a threat to our survival.
It meant needing more food, which wasn’t always available.
So we sat on our butts all day.
But that was then, and this is now. We’re not cavemen.
But our brains are still waiting for that firmware update, which means we’re in a fight against ourselves.
We say we want change.
We want improvement.
We want to bring our dreams to life.
But our ancient brains do everything possible to fight it.
And right now is the time for you to decide whether you’re going to wave the white flag or do what it takes to win the war and get to the other side of your true self, which is the only place you’re going to find real happiness.
Now, let me tell you what it takes to get there...
A hundred years ago, the Summer Olympics were in Paris, and the 10k cross-country run happened to fall on one of the hottest days ever.
It was 113 degrees in the sun.
And the course was basically a dirt path along the banks of the Seine, with overgrown weeds on either side.
The air was thick with noxious fumes from a power plant on the river.
More than half of the 38 runners dropped out of the race, and eight of the finishers got carried away on stretchers.
But this guy, Paavo Nurmi, coasted across the line a minute and a half ahead of everyone else without any hint of struggle.
That was just one of the four gold medals he got that year.
Nurmi was from Finland, which explains a lot.
Fifteen years after that race, in 1939, Russia’s Red Army invaded Finland.
The Finns were outnumbered three to one, and their military didn’t have anything like the tanks and aircraft the Russians had.
But they fought like hell for three months, and they won the war.
The reason they won is that their entire culture is built around a central guiding principle, which they call Sisu.
In 1940, The New York Times published a piece about that war, and here’s how they described Sisu:
“A compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit and to fight with the will to win.”
Sisu is what we all need. It’s how we can win the war inside.
And if we want Sisu, we gotta do what they do in Finland, which is this:
Every single day of their lives, they push themselves to do what’s hard.
They sit in 200-degree saunas for 10 minutes at a time, and then they jump into frozen lakes—through holes they cut in the ice—and they tread water, getting right to the edge of hypothermia.
They all do this. Pretty much every person in Finland. They do it because they believe in the power of doing what’s hard.
It’s how they win wars. And gold medals.
Sisu is something we can all choose to have as a guiding principle in our lives, just like the Finns.
This mindset—inside each of us—will get us our gold medals. It will enable us to achieve whatever is most important for us to achieve.
And you can choose to have this mindset in an instant.
To quote a great Jedi master:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
Imagine the power you’d have over yourself if you decided right now to live by that creed.
Now, let me ask you the question from the beginning.
What’s stopping you?
What’s getting in the way of you saying that the word try no longer exists for you?
What if, right now, you said to yourself,
“I will do whatever it takes to get where I need to be to make my life all I know it can be?”
What if you said,
“Excuses have no place in my life. Nothing stands in my way.”
What if—the second you finish reading this blog—you pick one thing you can do right away—something hard—that moves you a tiny step in the right direction...
...and you do it.
Then, every day, you pick something else. And you do that.
You take another tiny step.
Just like jumping in a frozen lake, these steps are gonna get easier, and you’ll be able to take more and more of them.
Pretty soon, Sisu will be part of you, which means you’ll have what it takes to make your dreams real. To have the life you deserve.
So—one last time—let me ask you this…
What’s stopping you?
This article is an excerpt of the forthcoming book, Your Best Life: Tactics, Tools and Insights to Create a Life of Fulfillment, Joy and Abundance, by Mike X — to be released on March 14, 2023.
Originally published on Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.