A guide to living the fulfilled life you dream about.
You’ve probably made a couple of excuses today and thought nothing about it. It might have been about why you were late to work; why you didn’t take the groceries out; or why you couldn’t complete that project you were assigned.
It might have seemed like a little thing hardly worth a second thought, but excuses can quickly morph into a chronic problem that can hold you back and keep you from living a fulfilling life.
Julius knows this all too well. He’s a 29-year-old photographer living in Recklinghausen, Germany, and for a time, when he was new to his craft, he struggled with making excuses.
It took some time for him to get over this flaw, but today he is successful at his craft and can proudly say he lives excuse-free. I sat down with him to learn more about his story and how he managed to overcome making excuses.
Habits are not formed in a day, and Julius did not realize his tendency to make excuses until it was deeply entrenched.
The first time he noticed it was when he was studying to become a photographer.
He’d read every textbook he could get his hands on, scoured blogs, and watched countless YouTube videos, but he’d never once gone out with a camera and taken some shots.
There was always a new video or article that he had to watch, and it wasn’t until he’d repeated this pattern a few times that he realized what was going on.
“The most important lesson for me,” he told me, “was that theory does not equal practice and that the only way to get better is to try things out and just do it.”
Once he caught that first excuse, Julius started noticing other areas where he was doing the same thing—blaming external conditions for an internal problem—and he resolved to better himself.
The Root Cause
The first step of that journey was figuring out the “Why?” behind the excuses.
Why did Julius feel the need to think up reasons not to pursue his dream?
The answer: he was scared. Scared that he was not enough, or would not measure up.
“The biggest challenge for me is the fear of not being enough,” Julius said to me. “Nowadays, you’re always bombarded with content from other, clearly more talented photographers. The problem with that is that you’re always put in the position of comparing yourself to other people, compositions, and looks. ”
Yours might be something different. It might be a fear of failure or a fear of success. Whatever it is you need to identify the root cause of your excuse problem so that you can properly deal with it.
Stop comparing Yourself
Once you understand the problem, the solution becomes obvious.
In Julius’s case, he realized he needed to stop comparing himself with other photographers because it was hurting his prospects.
Of course, they were much better than him. They’d been in the business much longer and had honed their skills over the years.
But that was not his focus. His focus was on his subjects and rendering them to the best of his ability; his love for photography; and the vision he had for himself. Once he remembered that, it became easier to detach himself from the unhealthy standards he’d subconsciously set for himself and focus on his art.
The reason we make excuses is to deflect blame. To blame our shortcomings on another person or thing. And so, conversely, a great way to overcome making excuses is to accept responsibility. Many times, we blame our education or lack thereof, our co-workers, or even our family for our challenges. Julius did the same thing.
What we should be doing instead is taking responsibility for our shortcomings and finding new, creative ways to overcome them.
“You can hide behind theoretical rules forever or claim that your equipment is not good enough to try idea XYZ. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how many pictures you’ve taken in the real world and whether or not you’re engaged with them so that you can continue to improve in the future.”
Look to the Future
When you feel yourself itching to make an excuse, look to the future and consider the long-term effects. Will it make you better at your craft, or will it hurt you?
For Julius, whenever he feels like skipping out on putting his skills to the test, he reminds himself of what veteran photographers say:
“It’s not the equipment that matters, it’s the person behind the camera. You can only throw so much money at a problem before you realize it’s not the equipment, but your know-how.”
The next time you’re tempted to make an excuse, remember that they can keep you from living a fulfilling life. Instead, take a page from Julius’s playbook and take responsibility for your actions. Look to the future to evaluate your actions, and don’t compare yourself to anybody.
If you’d like to check out Julius Kahl futher, visit his socials here: