We all make excuses.
We use excuses to stop ourselves doing things we don’t want to do. Unfortunately, those same excuses also keep us from projects and adventures we are interested in. Excuses give us reasons to be lazy, stubborn, scared. You name it. When it comes to excuses, we never seem to run out of them.
How do we stop making excuses? Here are 6 ways that can make a difference.
1. Decide what it is you want
By this I mean what you truly want. Not the things you think you want but don’t really. Not the things you tell yourself you want but aren’t prepared to work for. Not the things that sound good when you talk to your friends about them, yet fail to follow through on.
When you are trying to decide what is it you want, ask yourself these key questions. Are you willing to make sacrifices or compromises to make this project or adventure happen? Are you ready to commit 100% to the project? Are you steadfast in your resolve or wavering?
When it all comes down to it, it’s normally the things we are genuinely passionate about and wholeheartedly committed to that end up winning us over.
2. Be honest about your to do list
Does anyone ever write, sit on couch for three hours and watch favorite DVD box set, on their to do list?
Probably not. Yet many people end up doing that exact thing, when they have more important things to do. Actions they were convinced when they wrote their list, had to take top priority.
Be realistic about your to do list. A good start for ditching excuses is having tasks on your list that you are excited about seeing through to completion. Activities that will give you a sense of accomplishment and joy. This sense of achievement and purpose will give you more incentive to get the least exciting tasks on your list completed.
3. Understand why you aren’t going after what you want
There is where the usual group of suspects come into play – fear of success, fear of failure, fear that you aren’t good enough, fear that you don’t have what it takes to get the job done.
We use these as excuses for not moving forward. While all of the above are justifiable and valid fears, I can’t help wonder if that is precisely the problem. We use them for excuses before they are so acceptable. No one blinks if you say you have a fear of failure because everyone feels the same way from time to time. It’s universal.
It could also be a big fat lie or an acceptable excuse to cover up a less acceptable one.
Who wants to admit to themselves or those close to them that they just can’t be bothered to go after their dream? I’m afraid of success sounds much more socially acceptable than I’m too lazy.
Deal with the real reason you are holding yourself back.
4. Stop rewarding yourself when you don’t deserve it
We start working on an important project and about an hour in we decide we need a break. Better yet, we need a reward for all of our hard work. We deserve it after all. Before we know it we are wasting time on an unimportant task (watching television being the usual culprit).
By this point our motivation is out the window, our enthusiasm diminished and our discipline is heading for the fridge. It’s much easier to convince ourselves how hard we have been working, than to head back to our project.
After all we can always get back to our project later or even worse tomorrow.
5. Give yourself a much-needed kick
You have two choices. You can get over those big scary fears and complete your task from start to finish or you can head back to your spot on the couch and be mediocre.
Harsh I know.
I’m not saying that you should not be content with your life as it is. It’s important to embrace the moment you are in right now. Perhaps you are exactly where you want to be and that’s a great situation to be in. It’s a different story however, if you want to make major improvements to your life, career or business.
If you want amazing things to happen, you have to do something amazing. You have to DO SOMETHING.
All too often we want fabulous things to happen to us, yet we do nothing to make them happen. We want opportunities to mysteriously fall in our lap and even on the odd occasion when this does happen, we don’t follow through.
Often we use self-sabotage and excuses to make sure amazing moments don’t happen.
Read that last sentence again. Let it sink in. Your excuses are stopping you from having a better life. You are stopping yourself. No one else is to blame. Just you. Ask yourself is that the person you want to be?
6. Keep going
Good on you. You have completed your project. Perhaps the results were exactly what you were hoping for. Excellent!
Perhaps you didn’t quite hit the mark you were aiming for. Come to think of it, the results were less than stellar. You wonder if your commitment and investment were worth it. You start to have doubts. The couch is starting to look good again. Here come those same wore out excuses, galloping at top speed through your mind.
Stop right there.
Time to cut through the negativity. Now is not the time to reach for the DVDs. (In case you were wondering why I used the DVD scenario, it’s one of my own bad habits which I am currently in the process of eliminating. In essence this post is a note to self moment).
Now is the time to keep going. Learn from your last experience. Work out where you can improve. Try again.
You need to be aware of the excuses you are hiding behind and work at eliminating them. It takes discipline, determination and perseverance.
You have what it takes to ditch your excuses – so go for it.
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You make a great point with #4. But we could take it one step further and it may help us get over our excuses. We need to reward ourselves when we do something worth rewarding.
Doing so can push us forward toward the next big goal we need to reach. And then continue the cycle until the excuse is completely gone.