When Creative Excuses Sound Good But Thwart Progress

There’s point when taking more time to research, get organized, and continue praying about an opportunity or goal is really a means for trying to cope with fear and overwhelm

More than once when working with coaching clients, I’ve noticed they’re really into the process of nailing down their target and creating an action plan to achieve it.

As a matter of fact, their tendency is to be too ambitious, given their timeframe and resources, their history, current situation, and the laws of physics.  It’s as if they’re trying to compensate for not being where they feel they “should” be in the present.

Inevitably, when it comes down to executing their plan, a thousand and one “issues” emerge as to why they didn’t take action that week…

  • Something happened at home that required all their time and attention
  • They determined they first needed to create a new system, or find the right online program to track everything or organize their file cabinet to make room for this project, or they had to clean out their sock drawer first to clear their head
  • The more they thought about it, they’re not sure they received a clear leading from the Lord about the plan, so they need to spend more time praying about it first

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for seeking the Lord’s direction,
but sometimes He’s waiting for us to step into the Jordan in faith
before He starts piling the waters upstream.

I’m also all about challenging ourselves and our team to empower potential, to go further than we thought we could.

However, wisdom and sound leadership recognize there’s a point when it’s too far out of the established comfort zone, and counterproductive as it triggers fear, uncertainty, and overwhelm, grinding everything to a screeching halt rather than inspiring to rise to the challenge.

For each of us, there’s a “sweet spot” that exists in the realm beyond our comfort zone (the place where we feel safe, assured of success) and the zone that is a set up for failure.

We know when we’re outside the sweet spot because that’s when our creative excuses emerge to help us avoid the discomfort of feeling overwhelmed, confused, uncertain of what to do, and fearful of what we presume is guaranteed failure.

We think our plausible excuses help us save face, but all they really do is erode our belief that we’ve got what it takes.

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We think our plausible excuses help us save face, but all they really do is erode our belief that we’ve got what it takes.

The sweet spot is different for everyone and it takes a level of objectivity and self-awareness to accurately identify it.

Sometimes we fight it, feeling embarrassed because we “should” reach for more, so we set the target higher, only to be triggered again into paralyzing overwhelm that erodes our confidence even further.  The net result – no progress, less confidence, more feelings of inadequacy and self-fulfilling expectations of a future failure.


Whether it concerns you or a team member you’re leading, identify and embrace your true sweet spot with no shame.  Start there and set a path of small steps that create a series of small but continual wins.

When this is done repeatedly, you’ll find that the “sweet spot” gradually enlarges to the point that bigger strides can be confidently and successfully executed.

What if you don’t have a choice about the target and timeframe?

What if someone else has established the game plan and your job is to carry it out?

Here’s some tips to help:

  • With whatever segment of the plan is in front of your face right now, break it down into weekly, then daily, even hourly steps. Get someone to help you with this as needed.
  • Act on the smallest step you can and look at only that, not the big picture. Then repeat.  Just keep taking the next right step.
  • Find a way to reward and affirm yourself at the completion of each step.
  • You may find it helpful to work with a non-judgmental mentor or professional coach who can walk you through this process and help you achieve breakthrough. By the way, I’ve seen the need for this no matter the level of previous success attained.

Our excuses aren’t evidence of poor character or personal inadequacy. 

They’re symptoms of overwhelm, uncertainty, and fear that none of us are exempt from. 

However, with a little graciousness toward ourselves, and a savvy strategy in place to outwit and disarm our triggers while still gaining ground, we can systematically and successfully execute a plan and regain our desire to rise to the challenge.

In the Comments below share what’s worked for you to overcome creative
procrastination stemming from fear and overwhelm

Could you benefit from professional coaching
to help you design and execute a strategy to regain
your confidence and start winning again?

Contact me for a free 20 min discovery call.
Call 813-434-3388 or use the form below

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