Remember the good old days when you actually thought you could get away with “the dog ate my homework?” Or – updated version – “My baby sister deleted my homework with one swipe of her pureed banana fingertips”?

How well did it work then? Uh-huh. So why do you keep running the same refrain now? Because you do, you know. Only instead of trotting it out for your teacher’s benefit, you run it on yourself.

Let me explain. You really want a raise, for example. You really neeeeed a raise: your rent’s gone up, your phone crashed, your child needs sports equipment, the list goes on. So you steel yourself for the conversation, stride firmly into your boss’s office and announce: “I need a raise.” Your boss may laugh, cry, sympathize or mumble something about budget cuts, but the bottom line is, you don’t get your raise.

And that’s where it ends. You still need the raise, but it isn’t your fault you didn’t get it, after all, you asked! What more can you do? And you go on to cope with the rent, the phone, the soccer equipment as best you can, miserable and moaning all the way.

Or let’s say you handled it differently. You didn’t go to your boss and ask. You looked around and thought “What right do I have to ask for a raise?” None of your co-workers have received raises. The company has experienced numerous downsizings and budget cuts. What chance would you have of getting a raise? You consider yourself lucky to still have a job, and put your nose back to the grindstone, coping with the rent, the phone, the soccer equipment as best you can.

The two scenarios may seem very different, but they share one critical element: you bought into your own excuses for not getting your raise. Just like you dearly hoped your teacher would buy into the “dog” excuse. As opposed to giving your homework a valiant try that may—or may not—have gotten you a good grade.

Our egos just plain feel better about things when we can blame failure on someone or something “out there.” So we take a first “No” for a forever “No.” Or we figure we don’t have much of a chance so why bother trying?

Well, your ego may be assuaged, but your opportunities for success are greatly diminished. The winners in life are those who refuse to blame outside conditions, persons or circumstances, and who instead, stubbornly, persistently go for their dreams.

You want that raise? The boss shined you on? So what?! Strategize, figure out what would make you so valuable to the department, to the company, that a raise would be inevitable. Learn how to negotiate, avail yourself of the information that abounds on how to get that “yes” you say you want. You looked around and no one else was getting a raise? They’re not you! Same drill. What would make you stand apart from the crowd? What skill set are you willing to learn, hone? What advantage can you offer the company? And so on.

The same is true of anything that you want in life, that you’ve somehow convinced yourself you can’t have before giving it 100% effort over a sustained period of time. Whether it’s a good marriage, a great relationship with your children, writing your memoirs or opening your own diner, whatever you want has within it the possibility of success.

You may fail, that’s true. But you will never even come close to success if you keep up a “dog ate my homework” routine. Be a winner. Step up to your own plate. Take responsibility for your success: love it, dream it, work at it, be passionate, persist! The mere act of refusing to let yourself get away with your own excuses will set you up for success.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit,