Turning a “Can’t” Into a “Can” As an Individual with Vision Loss

There have been many times in my life where I had to tell myself, "Steve, you are your own worst enemy!" Simply put, I made excuses for myself. Whether justified or not, I was my own worst enemy. I prevented myself from making timely progress. Timely is the operative word.

No doubt, from time to time, I chose to say, "I can’t," rather than, "I can!" Fear, anxiety, and despair crept into my mind, clouding what I knew was the right course of action for myself and my career.

Early on, my skills for living with visual impairment were insufficient. I told myself I didn’t need any training. I had a lot of vision left, so no need for me to bother with basic skills, right?

My vocational rehabilitation counselor gave me options, but I declined them. Instead of preparing myself, I made excuses.

Here’s the good news. I found ways to stop making excuses and to start saying, "I can!"

Close up of a man in a suit holding a silver award

Having the Right Mindset

First thing I had to do was put everything in perspective.

  • Yes, I was losing my eyesight.
  • Yes, challenges would await me at every turn.
  • Yes, I could develop myself and my skills to combat those challenges.

These three, simple statements helped me with my mindset. It set the course for things to come.

Master the Skills

My new mindset helped me accept the challenge of learning to live and work with vision loss. I learned to use low vision optical devices, screen magnification and screen reader systems, and other handy, low vision and blindness tools. I accepted orientation and mobility training too. I needed those basic skills and made every effort to be successful.

Eventually, I refined my social skills and got over my fear of asking for and declining help. When I discovered I had a strength for speaking and writing, I developed those skills to enhance my marketability.

I’ll be honest. I’ve come a long way with my skills, but I’ve got to stay competitive. It’s a continuous process of development and improvement.

Kick Out the Excuses

Excuses seem to materialize when fear, uncertainty, and despair nagged me. But, I can remember when anger and embarrassment caused me to make excuses too.

Here’s the danger with making excuses: they can and will lead to missed opportunities. Here is an example from my past.

Several years ago, I was asked to join the board of directors of a nonprofit organization. It was an exciting opportunity. Yet, I felt so out of place that I tried to convince myself to get out of it after participating in my first board meeting.

Nothing bad happened. No one mistreated me. No one was mean to me. But, I made excuses why I didn’t belong there. Not smart enough. Not enough experience. No knowledge of nonprofit management.

It was terrible. Lucky for me, I have good family and friends who convinced me otherwise. In fact, my wife straight up challenged me to stop making excuses. Guess what? I did.

It was a true turning point in my life and my career. If the excuses had prevailed, I would have missed a huge opportunity. Most likely, I wouldn’t be writing these posts for CareerConnect either.

Do yourself a favor, kick out those excuses when you feel them coming on!

If you need to learn or enhance your skill set, get it done. Yes, making changes, getting better, and improving your situation is hard. Shift your mindset. Relish the struggle, come out stronger on the other side, and take advantage of your opportunities.

Have you turned a "can’t" into a "can"?

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