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Last Updated on June 17, 2020

How to Stop Making Excuses And Start Taking Responsibility

How to Stop Making Excuses And Start Taking Responsibility

The toughest thing about excuses is they tend to be based in some semblance of truth. You really did miss the meeting because two lanes were closed due to a car accident. It’s also true your wifi did not work the night the paper was due. It may even be realistic to say you would be more successful if you had more support from your family.

There are plenty of valid reasons to explain why success was out of your reach. Yet, wouldn’t you trade every excuse for the opportunity to be successful? That’s the thing about excuses. As good as they are, they are a sign you fell short of your intended goal. That is why it is essential you discover how to stop making excuses so you can live your dream life.

Why Do People Make Excuses?

Learning how to stop making excuses will ensure you are always in control of your life. The most common reason people make excuses is because they don’t like a particular result in their life[1].

This result could about their finances, family, career, or health. When faced with the question of why your life is not where you want it to be, you can make an excuse or accept responsibility. The mistake most people make is they blame their shortcomings on outside circumstances.

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While excuses may seem insignificant, they are actually very dangerous to your ability to create your dream life.

Imagine if your goal was to lose twenty pounds in 90 days. At the end of the 90 days, you stepped on the scale and discovered you only lost five pounds. As you contemplate what went wrong, your first thought was about all the times you cheated on the meal plan. Then, you remembered the days you were tired or busy and skipped your workout. By taking responsibility for not achieving your goal, you give yourself the opportunity to improve in the future.

For instance, if you know you didn’t achieve your weight loss goal because you didn’t follow the plan, all you need to do is find a way to stick to the plan. If you followed your plan and didn’t achieve your goal, then you need to reevaluate your goal or the plan. You may realize your goal wasn’t realistic in the time provided. In this situation, you can either adjust your goal or adjust the amount of time you give yourself to achieve your goal. Either way, you know exactly what to do to create the results you want in your life.

When you blame your failures on a circumstance or situation out of control, you will find yourself waiting for the world to give you the life you desire. Those who understand that excuses limit their ability to succeed will relish in the opportunity to take responsibility for the results in their life.

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How to Stop Making Excuses

If you really want to stop making excuses and focus on achieving success, try the following tips to keep yourself on track.

1. Recognize the Need to Step out of Your Comfort Zone

If you want to learn how to stop making excuses, you need to focus on why you want to improve your life. When doubt creeps into your mind, you will start to make excuses to justify keeping things the same. When your mind is in this state, your motivation to continue is the furthest thing from it. Your mind has transitioned into “flight or fight” mode[2]. Therefore, every excuse you think of is an attempt to justify a return to your comfort zone.

The most dangerous aspect of your comfort-zone is the fact that it can feel so… comfortable. Your comfort zone is filled with habits you have grown accustomed to. The problem with staying in your comfort zone is that the changes you want to make in your life require you to leave it to expand your horizons. As the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.

2. Focus on Your Motivation

To motivate yourself to expand your comfort zone and stop making excuses, you need to keep your passion and motivation in the forefront of your mind. Each time you succumb to your excuses, you are creating a reason to accept the status quo of your life. There will always be a reason to wait for tomorrow, but you cannot allow yourself to continue procrastinating.

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Ask yourself, “How do I see my life changing when I accomplish my goal?” Will you be better positioned to take care of your family, support causes you are passionate about, or chase your dreams? Whatever the reason, understand that excuses rob you of the opportunity to accomplish your dreams.

3. Fight the Fear of Failure

Those who know how to stop making excuses accept the fact that they will not always get it right the first time. Fear of failure causes many to make excuses to justify their inaction[3].

Taking steps into the unknown is difficult. Your mind is focused on keeping you safe, and as a result, it is bombarding you with images of the worst-case scenario.

If your goal is to apply for a new job or start your own business, your mind is concerned about you leaving your stable income. As soon as you start to visualize yourself leaving, your mind starts making excuses for all the reasons you should stay. While you were tired of being overlooked for a promotion yesterday, you are now wondering if you really wanted the promotion in the first place. You contemplate if managing adults is really worth the trouble. You start to feel lucky you didn’t get promoted because you think the additional work will outweigh the additional pay. And what if you are not as ready to be promoted as you thought you were? Then you run the risk of your employment being terminated.

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In just a few short minutes, you have created multiple excuses to keep things just the way they are. When you take accountability for the results in your life, the answer to each of these questions is the same.

While you may not know exactly what your future entails, you are comfortable knowing that you will rise to the challenge. Whatever that challenge may be, you know you are going to learn the skills necessary to succeed.

Final Thoughts

As simple as it sounds, you cannot allow yourself to believe that life is happening to you. You are in control of a great many parts of your life. You are the creator of the results in your life, and if you do not like the results, learning how to stop making excuses is the first step to changing them.

When you take responsibility for your life, an amazing thing will happen: you will start to think of ways to change it. You must have faith in your ability to find a path to succeed in the most difficult of situations.

More to Help You Take Personal Responsibilities

Featured photo credit: Gregory Hayes via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The human feeling of wanting to achieve more is a shared one and, consequently, so does the sense of feeling defeated. Things don’t always work out as planned, and we then feel beat down and sometimes downright downtrodden.

This feeling is something that every achiever human-being feels once in a while. The good news is that there are proven science-based ways to help take back the power. It’s not possible to continually win without experiencing a loss, and the way we react to failure is what defines us.

There are (sadly) many practical examples—from battling a bad habit (did anyone say Netflix binge on a Tuesday night?) or even an addiction to dealing with a boss you don’t like who makes every day seem like it will never end. It might be other issues that make you feel like Sisyphus, the Greek god who was forced to push a massive rock up a hill for eternity as a punishment, doing the hard work and not being rewarded for it.

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone; Churchill and Lincoln were also defeated.

Fortunately, we’ve found some fantastic examples of ‘defeated’ people who made a remarkable comeback—showing that character is at least as important as talent. One of those people is none other than Winston Churchill. Most of us know that he saved his country and potentially the rest of the world during World War II, but we tend to forget that he famously stated, “I am finished” almost 20 years before that—when he was 40.

He had lost the Gallipoli battle, and everything seemed to indicate that he would go down in history like the rest of us: unknown. However, his plan to come back to the forefront of politics succeeded (only to lose the election after the war, and then win again). He was feeling defeated but he managed to bounce back.

There are other examples of leaders who experienced loss and then made a remarkable comeback. Abraham Lincoln is known as a former US president, but no one remembers that he was defeated in elections for the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years before that. Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of Europe, only to be exiled (and then come back and then go into exile again).

Most of us are not ruling Europe or the US, but you get the point—you win some, you lose some—and you should never give up on your goals and dreams. This isn’t relevant only to famous historical characters. The human spirit is measured when it’s at its weakest and in need of finding strength.

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Personally speaking, I experienced a tragedy, having to watch my father die in front of me when I was 25. Less than an hour later, as I was in the hospital, I told myself that nothing would break me, and I embarked on a journey to save other people’s lives with Safe Lane, a non-profit I started to prevent car accidents. It is what we do that defines us, and not what happens to us. It’s how we deal with feeling defeated that defines who we are.

Feeling Defeated Is Not Your Fault

Research shows that feeling defeated is not your fault. The deep-rooted feeling of defeat is validated in research. For example, studies of animal species with dominance hierarchies showed that after losing in non-lethal fighting, the animals that lost showed signs of depression.[1] Other studies suggest that defeat and feelings of entrapment are associated with depression and anxiety. Sadly, it happens to humans as well.

Research also suggests that it hurts the poor more than others. In a study conducted in economically deprived areas in England, over half of the people felt defeated. They experienced feelings of entrapment.[2]

The research also proved a connection to anxiety and depression, showing that this feeling impairs the mental health of those living in more impoverished areas. The clear connection between where you live and how you feel is disheartening, as it makes clear that some populations are inherently more prone to suffering than others.

9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The good news is that there are pretty good solutions one can use to fight this horrible feeling. Some of them can provide immediate improvement, while others help within a matter of weeks.

Here are 9 ways to take back your power when you’re feeling defeated in life.

1. Write a Gratitude Journal

Once a day, take three minutes to write down two things you’re grateful for. It might seem like a childish thing to do, but investing time in a gratitude journal has been scientifically proven to be helpful. Taking a note for yourself of the good things in your life makes you appreciate them more, and this kind of positive thinking also helps your brain change patterns.

According to a study conducted in Berkeley, students who wrote a gratitude letter to their peers had “significantly better mental health 4 weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns.”[3]

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Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, proved that participants who took the time to write about the good things in their lives had a huge increase in happiness scores.

2. Take Regular Breaks

When you’re working too hard, it can sometimes feel good because you’re pushing your limits. Nonetheless, you can’t work without taking breaks. Your energy is limited, and there have been a few studies proving this.

According to numerous researches, “taking a break can be very beneficial for you and your work. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks, and longer breaks have all been shown to affect well-being and productivity positively. By taking regular breaks, you can boost your performance.”[4]

3. Find Yourself a Mentor

I’ve personally found this to be very helpful. Every issue that you’re going through has been experienced by someone before you, so learn from that. Having a mentor reduces stress and helps you both practically understand how to handle the situation and emotionally put things in perspective. It also helps remind you that you’re not alone.

According to UNL, “mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate graduate school success and beyond. Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success. Research shows that students who experience good mentoring also have a greater chance of securing academic tenure-track positions or greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside the university.”[5]

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools that are widely available today through the use of apps such as Calm and Headspace. There have also been countless books written about them. One of them is “Wherever You Go, There You Are:  Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s. By being present, you can control where your energy goes.

I used to be a skeptic, but I have learned that it’s helpful to meditate when you need a moment. Countless studies have proven that breathing helps build resilience. Just by breathing slowly and deeply, our body knows when to enter into a relaxation mode.

We’re living at a time that makes us feel overwhelmed. We have too much on our plate and sometimes, we’re in a position that doesn’t immediately allow us to solve the problem at hand.

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Don’t worry—by meditating, breathing, or just trying to relax, you can understand what to do by letting your mind some time to think and improve. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article!

5. Your Self-Talk Is More Crucial Than Ever

Our thoughts and beliefs can sometimes be discouraging. Many people tend towards a negativity bias, which means that we’re prone to notice negative thoughts and emotions more than positive and neutral ones. This is where self-talk comes in.

Using self-talk to analyze whether your perceptions are helping you or not and whether they’re an accurate representation of reality can help you understand that things may not be as bad as you think. Research shows that this is, in fact, often the case.

It’s a good habit to also remember to be kind to yourself. Some of us sometimes forget the crucial ingredient of self-compassion. It also might be a good idea to motivate yourself by watching others—Youtube might be a good place for that.

Here’s an excellent example:

6. Educate Yourself

For whatever of life’s hurdles you’re currently facing, there’s an answer that someone else has already thought of. Google Scholar or even just plain old Google can help you find proven methods to deal with what’s bothering you. Educate yourself about your situation and learn what can and cannot work for you. Knowledge is power, indeed.

7. Don’t Obsess About What Happened

One of the proven ways to help sports teams stay on track is not overthinking the future and not getting stuck in the past. It’s useless to obsess about what already happened, and at worst, it can only harm your mental and emotional well-being.

One psychological way to think about that is the radical acceptance approach, which is pretty self-explanatory. It means that you should accept what happened and instead, think about what you should do moving forward.

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According to the NYU School of Medicine, “past experiences shape what we see more than what we are looking at now.”[6] So, it’s not easy to fight that. But it is also possible to change it by radical acceptance and growth mindset methods.

8. Create a Vision for Your Life

Another method for dealing with daily hardships is to think like an organization and create your life vision. When you understand your goals and purpose, it’s easier to not sweat as much as some of the difficulties on the way.

According to “Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice” by Francis J. Greene,

“Effective strategic management begins with the organization clearly articulating its vision for the future. The organization’s vision refers to the broad category of long-term intentions that the organization wishes to pursue. It is broad, all-inclusive, and futuristic (Ireland et al., 2009)”.

It is imperative to understand your vision and implement it in your daily life to keep your balance.

9. Stay Healthy: Exercise and Eat Well

You don’t have to run a marathon. Simply walking or doing any other type of physical activity you enjoy can help pump things up and make you feel better physically and emotionally. Exercise can help you overcome depression and improve your mental health. It also enables you to feel in control in some cases, and that’s a powerful tool for someone who’s feeling defeated.

Healthy eating and keeping yourself hydrated goes a long way. Sleeping more than 7 hours each night is also super helpful for improving your physical and mental well-being.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to feel defeated in life sometimes. After all, we all have our unique struggles and challenges along our journey in life. The important thing is that you learn how to face these roadblocks in your life. Whenever you’re feeling defeated in life, you can start with these 9 ways to gain back power and control in your life.

More Tips When You’re Feeling Defeated in Life

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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