4 excuses that are covertly sabotaging your productivity

Excuses are poison. The mile-long list of reasons you can summon up to justify your fears and “protect” yourself from risk will slowly destroy your dreams. But if you learn to obliterate those excuses whenever they arise, you’ll soon be able to ditch the fears they represent.

Let’s walk through four of the biggest excuses people make that prevent them from jumping.

1. “I’m scared I’ll fail.”

This is the number one reason why people hesitate to make their jumps. But I’ll tell you a secret: failure is inevitable. I learned this at a young age. When I was growing up, my dad always asked me, “What’s the worst thing that happened to you today?” It’s a weird thing to ask, but he did it for a reason. He was building my resilience and making me stronger. I’d tell him my latest humiliating failure, and he’d tell me his.

“Mine’s so much worse than yours, Kim. Wait till you hear what happened to me today.”

My family would celebrate who had the worst failure. We normalized failure and developed a tolerance for it because that took away its power and mystery. Normalizing it made the potential of failure less terrifying.

Decades later, I called my dad to share one of my latest setbacks. I won a big global deal that was going to give the company enough cash to operate for an entire year, and, at the same time, one of my key, long-time employees, the engineer we needed to build the contract we had just closed, resigned. How was I going to deliver on the contract without him? How could I do anything without him? The whole deal was resting on having a killer engineering leader, which I was now missing. I was so sure my failure couldn’t be beat. There’s no way Dad can top this, I thought to myself. But he proved me wrong.

He said, “Well, Kimmy, nice try. That sounds rough, but I’ve got you beat.”

“Well, Kimmy, nice try. That sounds rough, but I’ve got you beat,” he said. “I couldn’t make payroll yesterday. So I was actually about to call you to ask for a loan.”

Needless to say, he won that one. However, he didn’t let that failure—or any other one he’d face over the course of his career—stop him. I gave him the loan, he paid payroll, and he got his business back on track.

What have I learned from my dad? Failure hurts. Badly. Failure is inevitable. You can’t stop it. Failure will knock you down. But when you get knocked down, you have to get back up and keep going.

2. “I don’t have enough time.”

My dad always believed that eight hours was only half a day of work. Growing up, when I got home from school, he would ask, “What are you doing for the rest of the day?” (Which, in dad-speak, meant, “get a job!”) I worked at a pizza parlor, putting toppings on pies and cleaning plates. I worked at a local candy store while I studied. I folded shirts and stocked inventory at The Gap. I sold suits at Nordstrom. Throughout my young life, I worked my way up the after-school job ladder! Not having enough time was an excuse that my dad deleted before I could even use it.

If you spend eight hours sleeping and eight hours working, you’ve still got eight hours of opportunity. What are you doing during your eight hours of freedom? Even if you lop off two hours for things like exercise, cooking, and errands, you’ve still got six free hours! Being a caretaker or parent requires time; I get it, I have four children myself, so I have to wake early and keep working after they go to bed. Working two jobs to make ends meet also requires time, so if you’re in that position you’ll need to get creative about maximizing your hours and earnings. But if, like many people, you spend your spare eight hours watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling through social media, you can reprioritize that time to focus on your goal.

Start small. Dedicate 30 minutes per day or a few nights a week to working toward your long-term goals and jump-prep. You’ll be amazed how quickly that time adds up…and will probably find yourself wanting to carve out even more! Just chip away at those eight hours of opportunity as much as you can, given your responsibilities and constraints.

3. “I don’t have enough money.” 

This is an excuse that pops up frequently when I speak to aspiring entrepreneurs. My tendency is to push back by asking, “What do you need this money for?” It’s one thing if you’re planning to launch a restaurant or a product line and need capital for supplies, ingredients, rent, or production costs. But in an era when many businesses can be run entirely online, you can launch something new with a couple hundred dollars in your bank account. Start by marketing through social media, doing skill-swaps with friends to get your infrastructure and website up and running, and handling as much of the initial work yourself as humanly possible.

Of course, I’m strongly in favor of actively saving money! If saving has always been a challenge for you, tackle it just like you did with carving out time: slowly and consistently. Put aside ten dollars per week or 5 percent per paycheck or whatever small amount you can commit to on an ongoing basis. Create a separate savings account for this money so you won’t be tempted to use it on other expenses, and watch that balance grow.

You can do all this on the side while working full-time. Build slowly, be patient, and when your side hustle is bringing in enough revenue, then you can make your jump!

4. “I don’t have enough experience.”

Take it from someone who launched an online advertising company from her kitchen table after just a few years in the workforce: this is not a good excuse. We live in a time when there are unlimited resources to help you get the skills and expertise you need. The internet has answers, courses, and online groups to help you fill the gaps in your experience. Couple that with asking mentors, friends, and coworkers for their advice. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t let a lack of experience stop you.

New York Times-bestselling author Jenny Lawson shares a story about recording the audio version of her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and what it took for her to keep going despite inexperience:

“You could hear the trembling in my voice on every word…I excused myself to get a drink but secretly I was emailing my friend, Neil Gaiman, to ask him how he managed to record so many of his books while still sounding so cool and collected. His response came back almost immediately: pretend you’re good at it.”

Excerpted from JUMP: Dare to Do What Scares You in Business and Life. Copyright © 2021 by Kim Perell. JUMP released November 2021 by Harper Leadership, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

Kim Perrell is an entrepreneur, investor, and founder and CEO of 100.co, where she pursues her mission to reinvent how consumer brands are created using artificial intelligence. Kim has previously been named one of AdAge’s “Marketing Technology Trailblazers,” Business Insider’s “Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising,” and “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the National Association of Female Executives.