Forget the Buts, Put Yourself First | Breanna Rose

We all have goals. And dreams. And places we want to see. There’s the people we want to meet. The life we want to live. And the plans we have to make it all happen. But time after time, many of us find excuses or get stuck in comfortable routines, so much so that our intricate plans are set aside for another day. Or no day at all. Sadly, this is the way many of us live, myself included. Three months ago, I was faced with terrible back pain, piles of stress, and the harsh realization that my work driven lifestyle was taking a toll on my body. All at once, it became painfully clear that I couldn’t keep up with my own self defined pace for much longer.

It was obvious that some sort of change needed to happen, but alas, old habits die hard. As most would, I asked myself many “what if” questions. What if I took on less work? What if I bought a spur of the moment plane ticket to Hawaii and just relaxed for 7 straight days? What if I ate healthier? Each question was promptly answered with some sort of excuse and simply forgotten about the next day. The idea of change, however, kept coming back to me and weighed heavily on my mind ( and my back ) for some time. So finally, I decided to break routine. Because really, if something isn’t working … maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

So that’s what I did. I asked myself what needed to change, wrote down some honest goals, and stopped my train of thought right there. Instead of allowing my mind to sweep in with those ever familiar “what if” questions, I stood firm. And without any excuses in the way, clarity set in. I ended up with four simple truths, WORK LESS, DESIGN LESS, TEACH MORE, AND TRAVEL MORE, all of which made complete sense. For me, they felt good. And very very right.

Sure, I could have easily given myself reasons to walk away from each and every one of those goals. Questions like “You can’t work less because what if something major happens and you can’t pay the bills?” Or “You’re a designer, why would you want to design less?” Or “You didn’t get a degree in education, what makes you think you can teach people anything?” Or “Traveling is EXPENSIVE. You can’t go everywhere.” Excuses, like these, hold us back, even when we really should be moving forward. Perhaps it’s time you kick those “what if” questions to the curb, too? I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m not alone.

Now, I realize all of this is easier said than done. It’s not easy to negate excuses and escape routine. For many of us, simply writing down some goals and stopping there is a good first step. Over time, we’ll learn that excuses don’t always have to be excuses. And dreams can become a reality. I have my own goals written down on a piece of paper and look at them everyday. They remind me that I DON’T need to live with excess stress and overwork myself on the daily. Instead, I can design + work with purpose. Teach what I’ve learned to others. Go see Iceland someday. Enjoy long dinners with good friends. Consider sporadic road trips. You know, stuff like that. I’ve opened my mind to the possibility of it all and am no longer interested in telling myself “NO” all the time. So what about you? Write down your thoughts. Share it with others. And most importantly, be honest + open with yourself. That’s key.

PS. I’m really serious about Iceland.

( photo )
  1. Zachary says:

    My father was born in Iceland, and it has always been a dream to visit! Go go go!

    • breanna says:

      Oh I believe you. :) I’ve had a layover there on a flight to Europe, and it just intrigued me. I mean, I never left the airport … but I wanted to SO BAD. And now after researching + seeing many photographs, I can’t WAIT to get there someday!

  2. Jen says:

    LOVE this!

    Do it, girl! I think that it’s important to remember that things like this are a journey, like being healthier and working towards a degree. It’s easy to beat yourself to bits when you slack off, but if you try to remember it’s a JOURNEY and not just a straight “Oh, heeeeey, I’m here” sort of thing it’s easier to accept your missteps.

    Can’t wait to see where you go with this!

    • breanna says:

      Great advice. :) I’ve always thought about everything as a journey, but maybe didn’t realize until recently that I was on the 100% RIGHT journey. That’s where this comes in!

  3. Margo says:

    I can totally relate. Lately my goals are health related, but I always make an excuse. Like, “I need to make a plan before I quit smoking” (yeah, I’m a smoker… so gross) but I’ll make that plan next week. I need new tennis shoes before I can go for a long walk or start running. I’ll buy those sometime next week. I’m really bad about eating healthy because my metabolism never required me to, but the older I get, the more I see the effects on my health. Thanks for this post- I am going to sit down, make my plan, then actually start it!

    • breanna says:

      You are so welcome. :) Best of luck in your list-making and taking action!! It’s definitely easier said than done ( I feel ya ) – - but once we change our mind set, so many great things can happen.

  4. Louise says:

    Iceland is incredible. I only spent a few days there years ago but am itching to return! This post is very timely for me as I enter the last few months of my work contract here in Indonesia and face a return to Australia. I’m very conscious of not returning to my old life and I need to keep on track and remember the reasons I’m going back and the things I want to achieve. As someone who always puts travel first, I think you should book that ticket to Hawaii (or Iceland). Travel does wonders for the soul!

    • breanna says:

      Glad to hear you loved Iceland. I can’t wait to go someday. :) Best of luck to you as you return to Australia! Sounds like you had a fun adventure in Indonesia though. WOW! xx.

  5. Jamie says:

    Love this! Living a life of intentionality has been a process for me too! As a creative, we have so many goals and different directions we want to go, it is hard not to get overwhelmed and create excuses. Love the idea of writing down a few brief goals and putting it up near my desk! Thanks for sharing :)

    • breanna says:

      Thank you. :) I agree with you – - I think that this is something Creatives especially struggle with. We have so many ideas that pop up, almost constantly. It’s tough to navigate + stay true!!

  6. Renée Yoxon says:

    I’m feeling this a lot right now. Five years ago I developed chronic pain which has been getting progressively worse. Needless to say it’s impacted my singing career profoundly. I spent the last year reassessing how I want to proceed as an active artist with chronic pain. Do I want to push myself and further my career and pay the pain price? Or do I want to spend time managing pain and put my singing on hold? Ultimately the choices were made for me. I couldn’t ignore my body but I couldn’t abandon my dreams. I guess you could say that balance found me :)

  7. Jensen says:

    I feel like all of my best moments have come from ignoring excuses and just trusting my gut — it’s the only way to move forward, really. And your goals sound so great, so there’s no reason not toove towards them.

    (ps. I’ll totally hop a flight to Iceland with you)

  8. natalia says:

    Iceland is a dream of mine too. One day, I swear.

    I love dreaming. I have notebooks filled with things I’d like to do and places I’d love to go. I forget about them and then pick them up and I get such a sense of YAY LET’S DO THIS that’s really what keeps me going. If I didn’t have goals (because I WILL do those things and I WILL go to Iceland, damnit), I don’t think I would get up every morning.

    So yay for lists and for dreams and for goals. Travel is always good and it doesn’t have to be super expensive, you can travel from your bed and still have fun and learn things. It’s just a matter of wanting to do things and not letting fear or the what ifs you mention get in the way.

    If you go to Iceland before me, take notes so you can share where to go, when, etc. :D

  9. Amber says:

    I love how honest this post is. I reached a similar point where I had to step back and realize that I couldn’t do it all and that I didn’t want to live in a constant state of overwhelm.

    I think it’s time to revisit this point again, and put aside all of my what-ifs.

    Enjoy Iceland, you deserve it :)

  10. Mo says:

    Must be that a lot of us are feeling this way lately…I put my notice in at my very safe and comfy job last week, and even though I’ve no idea what will happen financially or what my next career move might be, I feel so free and happy just having made the decision and can see the end in sight. It feels right for the first time in months.

    Cheers to you for making decisions and stickin’ to ‘em, too!

  11. Laura Morris says:

    I love this! It is so easy to make excuses to stop yourself from achieving your dreams. My mostly stem from fear of failure but I have been working on getting over it!

  12. Gillian says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! I’m in my last year of my visual communications degree and have so many dreams and plans about entering the design world as a professional. But all those big goals become so overwhelming and daunting that I constantly make excuses to not push myself further that I end up disappointed. With so much amazing talent (including yourself!) on the internet, it’s so easy to want to curl up into a ball and hide sometimes. I love hearing the truth behind your words and I’m now going to keep my goals on a piece of paper to look at everyday!

  13. Jessika says:

    Hi Breanna!
    I’m so glad that you talked about setting simple goals when life starts getting crazy. I am a complainer (sadly). Right now, I’ve been working on trying not to wallow in my unemployment sadness. But, maybe this time away from corporate office life is a good break to rediscover myself. Thanks for helping me see that today. I hope you’re able to visit ICELAND one day too! xo – Jessika

  14. Laura says:

    Iceland is an absolute must!! I went there for my honeymoon and absolutely fell in love with the country – just adding in an extra vote :) Anyway, this was just a beautiful post, and I can’t wait to start my own list. Thank you, thank you!

  15. Martha B says:

    I need to do some simplification myself… this post makes me want to do that tonight.
    Not sure where you live, but I recently saw some pretty good deals to Iceland from select cities through Icelandair. (I really want to see the Northern Lights!) Check it out or subscribe to Icelandair to be updated on deals and it will continue to remind you of your dreams! Maybe explore what options you have when it comes to airline miles too… you might be closer than you think! PS – Road trips are the best!

  16. Erin Shelton says:

    This spoke to me. I can completely relate to feeling overworked and stressed and not stopping until my body physically makes me stop. (Herniated disk in my back, try hot peppermint soaks on yours.) I find myself not always enjoying my work as much if I don’t take time to stop and actually enjoy life. I love that you wrote down your goals. This is something I haven’t tried doing yet, but I think I will now. Thanks for this, I am taking it as a sign to look at my own life and re-prioritize.

  17. Erica Manami says:

    I keep hearing this everywhere. Which means I really need to listen and follow through with the advice. Fear is simply an excuse and worry is a waste of imagination. It’s time to ACT!

  18. Amy says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want and should do on the side to further improve my design skills because I’m still beginner at my first design job. I’m a workaholic by nature and even my manager has told me to go home and not stay late. I feel as thought I should stay late and learn more. So today, I found a site to learn HTML/CSS. I never thought I would do web design/development because it isn’t my forte. But I got through the tutorials and made a page their their step-by-step guide. It was fun and intriguing that I want to learn more about it.

    I have learned though I need to take a break from any kind of design and step away from a computer. If I don’t I’ll burn myself out and I wouldn’t want to design ever again. *hello traditional mediums*

  19. heather says:

    I completely agree and I totally understand where you’re coming from! I’ve actually gone through this a couple of times in my life. I’ve been caught up in the “what if’s” (sometimes I still am) but I’ve learned that I need to listen to myself. I am the only one who knows what I really need and I”m also the only person that can make that happen.

    PS – I’m with you on Iceland!!

    xx, heather

  20. Allison says:

    Breanna, this is such an honest post! I wanted to share that recently I’ve learned those little voices in your head that are giving reason not to go for your goals are called limiting beliefs. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’m always working on my own. If you do a quick google search you might find some ways of overcoming them that work for you. One such way (the most far out) is called the tapping solution or EFT. Have you heard of it? It feels very silly but it works for all kinds of things. It’s so wonderful that you’ve defined your goals. I think you’ve got them all :)

  21. Becky Murphy says:

    1. I like that you reread your goals every day.
    2. Iceland, yes plz.

  22. Sara says:

    This is the third post I’ve read recently about setting goals… I’m starting to think it’s a sign. & those voices saying “why” and “what if” are really hard to kick, so good for you for finding a way! I hope Iceland happens for you sooner than later—it’s one of my dream places too, though I’ve heard food is cray cray expensive. But wild horses and hot spring lagoons I think make up for $20 coke and hot dogs. ;)

    • breanna says:

      Okay, so I just had to respond ASAP to your Iceland comment because YES, crazy expensive food. We had a layover there on our trip to France last year and I bought some water + yogurt while waiting. Their currency is completely different ( obviously ) and the cashier register read something like 1,113 when I checked out. So I just handed them my credit card and was like … hope this isn’t bad. Ha! Cause you literally have NO idea what you’re paying unless you get used to the conversion. It ended up being $9 for a bottle of water and yogurt. Still spendy considering you can get it for probably $3 here. ;)

  23. Caitlin says:

    YES YES YES! Love it all! I’ve been thinking of shaking up my routine too + adding some scary goals that don’t quite feel comfortable because SOMETHING’S GOTTA CHANGE (or maybe I’m just in pre-wedding freakout ha!).

    And Iceland…I’m obsessed! Have you SEEN this: http://petapixel.com/2014/07/15/breathtaking-wedding-photographs-make-great-case-eloping-iceland/ Just stunning! I heard that flights there are relatively cheap + I want to hike inside a volcano (apparently that’s a thing). Hooray more traveling! That’s on my lifestyle change list too :)

  24. Oh Iceland. I’m pretty serious about that too. :) I loved this post, Breanna! So beautifully written & such a fabulous reminder that life is short — let’s live it in the ways we truly want to!

  25. Helga says:

    I am at a time in my work + life space where everything is overlapping and I can’t even manage to hold a train of thought, so it was such a great think to stop for a second and read through this post of yours. I too hope that I can find a better balance where things are taking toll on either side of the spectrum – let’s hope that one day I get there :)

    Oh, and if you ever plan that trip to Iceland (and I really hope you do) – shoot me a line. I am from there, living in L.A. now, but would love to give you some inside info on what to see and do ;)

    • breanna says:

      You are from Iceland?? OH MAN. SO COOL. I will definitely let you know if I go. Or if that doesn’t happen for a bit and I forget, I’m sure I’ll post it on my blog whenever that happens and hopefully find you again. :)

    • breanna says:

      But also! I wanted to wish you luck with finding balance and a little peace here and there. I can definitely attest to all that you’ve said and how sometimes we can’t hold much more in our mind space. All the more reason to slow down, even if just a little. :)

    • Helga says:

      Yes!! keep me in mind when it happens :) – and thanks! I am sure I will find that balance one day… I just need too breathe ;)

  26. Steph says:

    This really hit home for me, I’m in the same situation where I’m trying to make some life changes but I just keep making excuses and putting things off and it leaves me stuck in a bit of a rut! I think making small goals every day and trying to stick to them is the best way to start making those bigger changes. Thanks for the motivation, sometimes all you need is to know you’re not the only one facing these problems :)

  27. athena says:

    I will happily go to Iceland with you. How about November when I have time to breathe again!? ;)

  28. […] you guys! Remember a few days back when I talked about kicking those excuses to the curb? ( Thank you for all your sweet responses […]

  29. Niken says:

    thank you for writing this. lately i’ve been feeling stuck – let’s GO!

  30. Tina says:

    I can really relate to this subject, I’ve been stuck in a job I hate with a passion for almost 2 years now and this week finally resigned. I don’t have anything else lined up yet but I knew I just had to make the decision because I kept making excuses not to: I need the money, what if I can no longer pay my bills, what if I don’t find anything else. After two years it started taking a toll on my body: anxiety attacks, headaches, stomach pain and more. At a certain point you realize that staying where you are is actually a lot scarier than potentially going broke. Thanks for sharing your story!

    x Tina

  31. Megan says:

    I needed to read this today. I’m in the same position and figuring out what I want with my future and the stress of my current situation. Also, would LOVE to visit Iceland.
    Thanks for sharing.

  32. […] Kick Those Excuses to the Curb by Breanna Rose […]

  33. I am now, more than ever, in a thinking phase . This is the moment where I need everything to work out . And there is moments where I am so full of energy and positive vibes , where I tell myself : “of course it’s possible, and it’s easy. You just have to do it” . At those moments, I write a big to do list and plan all sorts of cool stuffs in my head. At other times I also wonder “where am I gonna live, which country?”, “where is home?”, “I feel stuck in between countries and because of it all the relationships I build are only partly developed”.
    I haven’t figure out yet a way to kick all of those worries out. But i’m seriously working on it. Any advice welcome ! ;)

  34. Carrie says:

    Hey, I am late to the party, but I was just catching up on your blog this morning :)

    I have some ‘travel on the cheap’ resources that might help you out! Chris Guillebeau is the real deal, a nice guy (I’ve met him) and not scamming anyone. He is the best expert I know of when it comes to Travel Hacking to get crazy good deals on airfare and such: http://chrisguillebeau.com/travel-hacking-resources/

    You might also find some fun adventures through Modern Day Nomads: http://www.moderndaynomads.com/

  35. I recently went through a similar revelation and wrote about it on my blog. Except what I want is to learn more about design and implement it, become a designer.

    In addition, I also really want to go to Iceland. It seems like a perfectly lovely place to visit and I hope we both get to go there one day soon!

  36. […] • It’s time to kick those excuses to the curb. […]

  37. […] Kick those excuses to the curb! ♥ 7 lies about SEO you probably […]

  38. chantal says:

    Loved this post.

  39. […] over on instagram if you’d like to follow along. And when I return, it’s time to kick those excuses of mine to the curb. For real. :) Cheers to learning, growing, and putting yourself first. […]