Fear is what fuels excuses. We start making excuses when we are afraid how someone will react to something we say or do. Maybe you say you’re “busy” when a friend asks you out for drinks, or maybe you say “I don’t know how to…” when you haven’t even tried. We all make excuses once in a while, here’s how to stop with the excuses already.
- Practice honesty. The first thing to know is that an excuse is nothing more than a lie. The more you make excuses, the easier it gets. Lying, like most everything else, becomes easier the more you do it. But so does telling the truth. Practice telling people the truth all of the time. If you don’t want to go out with a friend, don’t lie. Tell the truth. Wouldn’t YOU appreciate your friends telling you the truth?
- Prioritize. Use your talent, time, and resources doing things that are important and meaningful for you. Stop saying yes to doing things that you don’t like doing. If the person or project doesn’t excite you or make you happy, then don’t waste your time. If there are people in your life who are draining your energy, then don’t give them yours. Make a list of what is important to you and do things toward that end. If spending time with family is a priority, then take steps to prove it.
- Set realistic goals. Personal excuses pop up when a deadline goes rushing past and you have not finished the project. Whether your goal is to exercise, finish a project, or simply drink more water, you should set realistic goals for yourself. Nobody likes to feel like a failure, so when a goal isn’t met we make an excuse. “I’m too busy with the kids to exercise.” No you aren’t. Take the kids with you. Exercise at home with them. Exercise while they are at school or napping. I used to work out on my lunch break because I knew I wouldn’t do it after work. Tell yourself to exercise for thirty minutes each day, and work on that project for at least fifteen minutes a day. Setting small, easy to achieve goals makes cutting out excises a lot easier.
- Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is just another word for excuse. Let “now” be your buzz word. If the dishes need to be done, DO THEM NOW. You won’t have to make an excuse if the task is finished. Doesn’t procrastinating make you feel worse? You know you have things to get done, you just don’t want to do them. Just get it over with. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after, and you won’t spend the rest of your day worrying about doing the dishes.
- Be positive. It is easy to say “Be positive!” to people, but it is a lot harder in practice. You might wake up in a great mood, but by the time you get to work that mood is nothing but a distant memory. Don’t let the weather or traffic ruin your day, or your mood. If you find yourself hating the world, take a deep breath and think about a kitten. It’ll make you smile. And, smiling is one a many ways to turn your black mood into a bright, shiny one.
- Be nice to yourself. One of the sneakiest ways excuses creep in is “self talk”. Self talk is the way you think about yourself, or even talk about yourself to others. The way you view a task, and the way you view your own ability to conquer that task has a direct impact on your ability to actually complete it. If you approach a project thinking it is too difficult, or that you are not good enough, then chances are you won’t do it. The good news is that once you become aware of how you are talking to yourself, you can stop. Each time you hear yourself using doubt as an excuse, stop. Change your mental dialog into something positive, and you will become something positive.