Four Excuses to Quit (and What to Do About Them)

Atmospheric photo of the Shore Temple - Mahaballipuram

Image by Jeff Medaugh

I’m sure you are more successful than I am. I’m struggling to learn everything I can to make my online business a success.

I’m reading and learning everything I can about writing headlines, compelling content, social proof, and unique selling propositions. My dream is to make enough money selling my products online so that I can be location independent.

As I analyzed why I’m not living in my island paradise yet, the words from a song I loved growing up ran through my head. In the song ‘I’m Free’, (yes, I’m that old) Roger Daltrey sang this:

I’ve told you what it takes to reach the highest highs
You’d laugh and say nothing’s that simple.
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
No one had the guts to leave the temple

I know what it takes to reach the highest high. I’ve seen the YouTube video telling me how.

The new messiahs are Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Brian Clark. I know where the door is.

I wonder if I’ve actually left the temple. Why haven’t I?

I have some ideas. Maybe these excuses are familiar to you too.

1. We’re Afraid of Failure

What happens if all of these great ideas don’t work? Then you have nothing to fall back on. It’s so much easier to look forward to the potential than to suffer through the failure. It’s easier to plan than it is to execute.

Excuse-Buster: We will never make anything happen if we don’t put it out there and try. Not trying will ensure failure. The more times we try, the better the chances of success.

2. We’re Afraid of Criticism

It hurts to be criticized. If we are doing something, we will be criticized. If we step up and speak out, if we offer our goods and services for sale, we will be criticized. No doubt about it. That hurts.

Excuse-Buster: The benefits of success, actually making some money, and making people happy, out weigh the pain of criticism. It’s easy to shake off a little criticism when we are reading the email from an excited fan or making a deposit in the bank.

3. We’re Lazy

This one is too easy to fall into. We want to find out who gets voted off tonight. We want to check Twitter one more time. We’re easily distracted. The hardest part of any task is the starting.

Excuse-Buster: There’s no easy answer for this one. Just get off your couch and go do it. If you can’t do that, then go work in a cube farm.

4. We’re Afraid We’re Not Good Enough

This is at the core. Because we are creative, we invest a little bit of ourselves into everything we do. It’s not just a job. It’s a piece of us. When we offer something for sale that we created, and it doesn’t sell, what does that say about us? People make judgements. They make judgements with their wallets. They make judgements about us.

Excuse-Buster: Except they really don’t. They don’t know us or care about us, not really. We are not our product. They are judging something, not someone. We need to keep our products separate from who we really are. We need to not get caught up in all that self identify drama. It’s just a cool product. Your value depends on who loves you, not on who buys your stuff.

Are you stuck in the temple? Have you learned it all and applied nothing? Are you afraid? So is everyone else. The only difference is that some people have had the guts to stand up and walk through the doors.

You know what to do. Quit reading. Quit listening to the MP3 interviews and watching YouTube. Put down the membership site and walk away.

Go out there and sell something. You can do it. What’s stopping you from taking the next step?


Do you recognize any of these four excuses in yourself?

What excuses would you add to the list?

How do you give your excuses the boot?

About the Author: Conrad Walton builds web sites, does SEO and internet marketing. He loves to help non-technical people by explaining technical things in easy to understand terms. You can read more at Walton Communications or follow him on Twitter at @conradwalton

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Responses to this Post


  1. These are so true – I recognized every one of them in myself in the past year!! I had a coach, followed a guru, had more MP3’s downloaded than I could possibly listen to, and was receiving constant information from a mastermind group – I had complete information overload with a side of paralysis of analysis.

    Finally, just one day, I shut it all down and starting producing instead of consuming. As Seth Godin would say, it was time to ‘ship’. So I have been taking the steps to ship by acting and writing, rather than listening and reading.

  2. Eeek! Be careful about calling ANYONE the “Messiah.” I’ve had enough experience with putting people on a pedestal and then having them be knocked off of it just in time for me to have to go through that period of “oh my God, did I really think he was all that?”

    But… as for everything else, I’m there.

    But I think laziness is a unconscious reaction to the other three excuses. If you’re afraid you’re going to suck, if you’re afraid you’re going to fail, if you’re afraid you’re not good enough… honestly, you’re probably not going to work.

    Fear stimulates one thing: inaction. And what you’re calling “laziness” here, I would call “inaction.” πŸ™‚

    From Frank Herbert’s Dune:

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.


    (Btw, saw you on QtR’s blog not long ago and now here. Woohoo! I’d love to get your opinion on QtR–would you email me? kippras (at) gmail (dot) com)

  3. This seems to be a theme right now. Everyone is maxed out on information and needs support on the implementation part.

    For me, there are two keys. One is setting aside time to reflect. I have to be very clear on what I’m trying to accomplish and why in order to be motivated to go forward with it. Another key is personalized support, either one-on-one or in a small group. If I don’t have someone to talk to about what I’m doing, I just go around and around in my head. So time alone away from the work and time to talk with someone are both critical for me.

    Of the four you mentioned, I really identify with the idea that getting started is the hardest part. I’ve had good luck with taking very small steps. I say, “I’m not really going to write a blog post. I’m just going to save a draft with a title.” That approach sneaks around my resistance and lets me take the first step. After that, I’m very likely to keep going.

    Love the analogy from The Who…I’m that old, too. πŸ™‚

  4. @Kari – I can’t speak for Conrad, but I read the ‘messiah’ bit as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the song. Maybe because I’m British, I tend to assume irony. πŸ˜‰

  5. @Mark, (laughs) It probably was πŸ™‚ Just touched a hot button for me because of my past experiences πŸ™‚

    Definitely a great article πŸ™‚ I like articles that I can get all-fired up about… even if I’m perhaps reading it wrong πŸ˜‰

  6. Heh. This is the point where Conrad comes along and tells us he was deadly serious… πŸ˜‰

  7. I wish there was an tag so people would know when I’m being sarcastic.

    I thought that knowing where the door is because I saw a YouTube video was kind of a tip off.

    The whole point of the article is to put down the “new messiahs” and leave the temple.

    I know people see those guys in that way, and they do have a lot of wisdom and great advice, but they are just people. Take the advice for what it is and go do something with it.

    Maybe I should title my next post “Screw the new messiahs”.

  8. That should have read:

    I wish there was an < intonation > tag so people would know when I’m being sarcastic.

  9. Helio Alves says:

    Man you said it all.

    I identify myself so much in what you wrote. I realize that I could keep learning for years and I’d always find an excuse to not start. I buy books so I can understand marketing, I buy books so I can learn more about social medias, I listen to audios to learn how to influence people but at the end of the day nothing matters until you decide to start shipping until you go out looking for customers.

    Thank you very much for sharing with us.

  10. Excuse #5. What to do first, which way to go first….blogs, newsletters, what to write about, sell from web site, from Etsy, from Zazzle, how to write effective copy. What about SEO, ROI and all those other acronyms I’m just now learning, what about web analytics, tracking clicks, sales and all that? OK, I guess that’s excuses #5 through ???

    I think what I’m saying is I’m not afraid of failure, or criticism, and I’m not lazy. It could be that I’m afraid I’m not good enough, not at the artwork, but at the “doing” of the selling. All the things you mentioned…writing headlines, compelling content, USPs. It’s not that I’ve learned it all and applied nothing – it’s that every time I think I’ve got it, I find there’s more to learn! I read everything by the names you mentioned, Seth Godin, Brian Clark, along with several others who are equally brilliant, and I feel like I’m almost there, but it’s still hard to figure what to do first! At the moment I’m redoing my websites, reading up on how to use Facebook and Twitter to best advantage, and lots more.

    Why am I thinking this probably sounds very familiar to a lot of people:-)?

  11. @Conrad, you’re right, btw–in context of that song, Seth & Brian & Chris & Gary & a whole bunch more people continue to show us and tell us how to do what they’re doing. They are indeed pointing to the door.

    What’s stopping me is the same as what Sue is saying: we’ve got the information. Now we just need to figure out how to implement what we know.

    And, like Carole, I get lost in the sheer amount of information that I don’t know where to start.

    There’s a blog article for you. “Where to Start When You’re Neck-Deep in a Pit of Information.” One step at a time, I’m learning. You have to start one step at a time.

  12. @Conrad and Mark: wish there was an “undo” button for real-life (and leaving comments ;))

  13. Wow, Conrad – two guest posts in a few days, you’re breaking the mold you talk about.

    Yes, too many subscribes, too many recordings, too much information. In the end, it comes down to having the confidence and nerve to go out there and just do it. Learn from our mistakes, eat humble pie if we have to (had to do some of that myself this weekend,) form the band and learn to play the instruments later.

    And we can’t do that if we other people’s music playing in our heads.

  14. Excellent!!
    Have realised that its all true of what ever you have said above listening mp3,watching youtube videos,checking twitter but not doing the thing what i want to do!!

    I think i need to start doing without caring the end result i guess …build it and ship it is the mantra maybe!!

  15. I really like the temple analogy. I think I understand most of what our Messiahs have had to teach us. I’ve gather even more through just my own studies, and reading other great blogs.

    Yet, this knowledge is worthless without application. That is the biggest trick to success. So many people know what to do, but they just don’t put in the trial-and-error to get it done. Sometimes because they don’t realize it is trial-and-error, with a big emphasis on the ERROR.

    Great piece! I hope to be reading more from you soon!

  16. Conrad, you’re on fire! I think I’ve employed all those excuses at some point. Nice song selection, too. (I’m also that old.) Thanks for lighting a fire under my sorry ass!

  17. Great article Conrad, I always like what Robert Kennedy said: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Wise words indeed.

  18. Very well said, Conrad. It’s epidemic, and I’m as guilty as the next guy. Perhaps we should start an e-course and membership site to address this problem. πŸ™‚

    I would add a 5th point: “I Don’t Understand X Well Enough Yet” – Where X is SEO, blogging, landing pages, aweber, youtube, PPC, AdWords, social media, H1 tags, or anything else we think is holding us back from true enlightenment and fanatical motivation. We keep hoping that the next thing we read will complete the picture, trigger an epiphany, and magically light the path to glorious success.

    Excuse-buster: By the time you understand everything perfectly, it will have changed. You cannot learn to swim by watching fish, you must get in the water. Mistakes will be made, so the sooner you get out and start making them the sooner you will learn from them and improve.

    I had my magical moment (see link), but it wasn’t the “total understanding and true enlightenment” that I was secretly hoping for, it was more of a Nike moment (“just do it!”).

    And that was a blessing!

  19. Marvelous post! Each point is dead on.
    As a serial entrepreneur who is in the midst of taking my most recent business (Nancy’s Bar-B-Q) to the next level (opening a restaurant after 5+ years of offering catering and delivery–I started out selling my ‘Q on the side of the road), I can say I have stepped out of the temple, and am better for it!

    THANK YOU for your reinforcing message.