Avoid the “If I only…” Trap

One of the things that holds people back in achieving success in their chosen endeavors is what I like to call the "If I only" trap. People use this to excuse their failure or to even not try at all. I know I’m guilty of using it and I should know better. Unfortunately, it’s an easy habit to fall into. Here are some examples you’ll hear in the blogging world…

"If I only had as much traffic as John Chow…"

"If I only had more programming skills…"

"If I only had more time…"

"If I only were more creative…"

"If I only could write better…"

"If I only had more money…"

The list goes on and on. People naturally seek alibis to comfort themselves either for failing or not even trying.

What can you do to break out of this cycle of defeat?

The first thing is don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Often that’s really what’s behind the "If I only…". If you fail, you fail. You figure out what you did wrong, taking an honest approach without making excuses, and try again. This blog is my 6th blog and I only count one other as being a success. I have to push myself daily to not fall back on easy excuses.

The second point is don’t entertain the "If I only…" in your mind. This only reinforces it as a stumbling block to your success. It gives it power over you. Don’t give it this power. Instead understand that it is something that you need to set positive goals in order to conquer it.

Lastly, understand that making these "If I only…" excuses is harmful to achieving your goals. While there may be a real situation behind the excuse, you can’t let that stop you. If there is a limitation holding you back, standing in your way to success, don’t let it win by making excuses. Make it your mission to work around or work through the obstacle.

Do you have a "If I only…" excuse holding you back? Want to talk about it? Leave a comment if you do.


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Comment by Y. S.
2008-02-08 20:19:21

If I only had better writing skills
If I only had more time
If I only had more programming skills

Those are my “blogging If I only…s” (I have other ones in my other fields of interest!)

Comment by jfc
2008-02-08 21:17:33

Hi Y.S.,

It’s always a matter of going ahead and doing it anyway and not waiting for everything to be perfect.

2009-03-01 13:25:58

I know this is older, but found the link when I was commenting on a more recent post. I couldn’t resist in leaving my feedback. I think you are 100% on point with this post. The if I only trap is one that lingers in much of the population, and it really can hold one back from being truly success. There are a million and one if I only possibilities, but if you recognize that they will always be there and leave them for what they’re worth… that will enable you to focus on using what you have in hand to your advantage and make you ultimately more successful. Great post!

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