Breakthroughs, Careers, Empowerment, Following Your Dreams, Inspiration for Change, success The Top 8 Excuses That Keep People From Taking Action They Desperately Need Written by: Kathy Caprino


I had a fascinating experience this weekend that helped me understand even more deeply why we don’t take action to help ourselves when we need it and why, under the right circumstances, we will.

I’m a trained therapist, career coach, writer, speaker and trainer, and in my work with professionals and through my writing, I hear from literally thousands of women and men who share that they’ve put off getting help for months, years, even for a most of a lifetime. Deep down, they know they need help, and they know they’re miserable and can’t fix the situation by themselves, yet they so often do nothing to help themselves.

Why don’t we take action to help ourselves?

I’ve developed my own courses to help women step forward and take concrete action to gain the clarity, confidence, courage and connections to build the lives and careers they long for, and I’m always intrigued at a phenomenon I see every year – that thousands of people will take my free webinars, stay on my mailing list for years, and even tell me directly that they need my help urgently, yet many will never pull the trigger to get that help.

So this weekend, when I did “pull the trigger” on getting outside help that I’d been longing for, I decided to stop and study exactly what motivated me to take action.  I wanted to understand clearly for myself what was going on in my life and in my situation today that made me stop, pull out my credit card, plunk down the money and finally say YES! to getting the help I needed and want.

The help I chose to move forward with (and register for) is this amazing course – The Heart of the Matter: How to Live with Compassion and Courage, offered by the beloved and renowned Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother, Pema Chödrön.  So why did I say “YES!” to myself, to obtain this type of help?

Here’s what I figured out. I said “YES!” to myself and to this because:

  • I’ve been deeply moved and inspired by everything I’ve ever read and heard Pema say. Her books have been so helpful and powerful, her weekly quotes are so enlivening to read, her talks (like this one with Oprah) moved me to tears, and more.
  • I LOVE what she says – every word — and it uniquely speaks to my heart, soul and spirit, in a way only she can.
  • I resonate deeply with her spirit and “energy” – how she makes me feel when I’m listening and watching her.
  • I’ve been having deep urges to learn more about the Buddhist way and have even started a series on my Forbes blog called “Spirituality and Success,” to explore how we can bring forward our own spirituality and souls in our work. (In fact, in this series, I’ll be covering His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his talk about “Fierce Compassion” in April).
  • I’ve been dreaming of finding a way to spend time with Pema, in any way I could.
  • To me there isn’t anyone in the world that has what Pema has to offer. No one.
  • I realized that, literally, there is no better time in my life to embrace this experience that will undoubtedly change my life.
  • I felt that this came into my life now for a reason.
  • And finally, I’m tired of wanting this– I’m ready to have it. I’m ready for action!

(This sounds like an ad for the course, doesn’t it!)

When I look at the surveys I’ve conducted and comments I’ve received from people with all the reasons they don’t take action, and why they say no to themselves instead of “YES!” I hear underneath these comments a litany of excuses that we humans use to stop ourselves from climbing out of the very tiny box we’ve trapped ourselves in.

I hear this:

“I guess I’ll stay stuck as I am” instead of:

“I’m ready to change what I’m doing to be MORE of who I am, and I’m prepared to do something bold NOW.”

Below are the top 8 excuses I hear from people who remain stuck for a lifetime, and never take action to help themselves live and work happier:

  1. “I can’t make time for this. My family needs all my attention.”
  2. “I don’t really have the money to invest in myself right now.”
  3. “I’m not sure this will do anything for me.”
  4. “I have to focus on what’s on my plate.”
  5. “I’ll feel guilty honoring my own dreams and doing something for myself.”
  6. “I should just make do with what I have in my life. Who am I to want more for my life?”
  7. “People will think I’m crazy for doing this.”
  8. “I know I’m unhappy, but I can figure this out on my own. I’ll read another self-help book.”

The reality is this: you won’t figure it out on your own. You can’t.

As Einstein so powerfully put:

“We cannot solve a problem on the level of consciousness that created it.”

No truer words have ever been spoken. You can’t solve your problems alone and in a vacuum because you’ll be trying (in vain) to apply your same limiting beliefs, mindsets, actions and ways of operating, all the while you’re trying to break free of them.

I know this because I wasted 18 painful and sad years in a corporate career that was wrong, wrong, wrong for me. I wasted so much time, and so much life’s energy doing work that wasn’t at all aligned with what I truly cared about, or with who I was, deep down. (Here’s a video about my personal story on that.). When I finally got moving and got help (after a brutal layoff in the days following 9/11) – earned my Masters degree as a therapist, trained as a coach, and moved forward building the business and career that’s right for me, I realized that it’s BOLD action we have to take every single day if we want to live happy, fulfilled lives.

Given all this that keeps us stuck, I’d like to ask you to answer – honestly and deeply – three questions today…

  1. Are you tired of the lack of fulfillment and happiness you have in your life, and desperately want something different?
  2. Do you know, deep down, that you need help and support from the outside to help you make the changes you long so hard for?
  3. Do you know of any other time in your life that would be better than NOW, to start on a new path?

Whatever your answers to these questions, I hope they lead you to take action and DO something powerful and bold for yourself today. Just one step.

Please share your thoughts below — What will you say YES! to today that you’ve been dreaming of? What are you ready to finally embrace, and what will you do to get there? Let me know!

To build a happier, more fulfilling life and career, join me in my Amazing Career Project online course today. (Early bird enrollment — and the chance to save $1,000 — ends April 18th.)

6 thoughts on “The Top 8 Excuses That Keep People From Taking Action They Desperately Need”

  1. Beautifully written article.! although I won’t be using the Amazing Career Project online course, I really enjoyed the valuable content you delivered in your article!

  2. I believe nothing holds us back that we don’t “allow”. It’s also touch to open up and be vulnerable with someone. To tell them your worries and how you feel unfulfilled because saying it to someone else can make you feel as though you have failed. That or the fear of being judged for not taking action sooner.

    It’s just about how bad you really want something. If you take yourself out of the equation and say it was a loved one who needed help, such as your child, you would do anything to help them. But when the focus turns back to you, then it’s easier to put forth reasoning in your own mind. Like you said, it really boils down to how badly you want it. Great article.

  3. Great post and great personal story. The majority of people will need outside help to make big change. Some people will figure it out for themselves. That’s life. Plenty of people have figured it out. What’s important is to be brutally honest with yourself, set goals, create plans and then take action.

  4. How does one know who to trust when making the decision to reac out for help. Often times a person is so vulnerable, low on self esteem, and just plain tired that a decision to invest in oneself is considered based purely on emotion. While emotional health is very important, so is the application of one’s “wise mind” in making life-changing decisions. Otherwise, one can end up stuck in iust another unhappy situation.

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