In the last Article, “Why We Make Excuses”, we discussed the reasoning behind our excuse making. Now we’ll discuss how to stop making excuses and get on with our changes, obligations, goals, and dreams. Because what many of us neglect to see is that our excuses have very serious and lasting consequences. Not only will excuses prevent you from reaching your full potential, but they will also hold you back from recognizing opportunities, talents and skills you might have, to help you overcome your problems.
If you don’t challenge yourself to reach new heights, you will never really know what you’re capable of. New opportunities lie hidden around every corner however you will never find them if you riddle your mind with constantly finding reasons to make excuses. Making excuses can also lead to the following consequences:
- Lack of responsibility and growth
- Self-limiting beliefs
- Massive regrets
- Persistent pessimistic outlook on life
- Bad judgments
- Imaginary walls constricting comfort zone
- Mental blocks stifling proactive action and creativity
These consequences certainly don’t lead to a fulfilling lifestyle. In fact, they paralyze us and prevent forward movement in all areas of our lives. To overcome your excuses, you must first admit that you are making them. This can be very difficult, but if you want to make your change and achieve your goals you must eliminate the excuses and their consequences.
To help with this process you should ask yourself some questions:
- What excuses do I tend to make? (write them down, add to it as you recognize more of them)
- What am I settling for? (write it down, add to it as you recognize more)
- Why am I making these excuses? (write down your reasons, add to it as you recognize more)
- How do these excuses prevent me from moving forward? (write it down and review your reasons often)
- How do my excuses cripple my ability to get what I want? (write it down and remind yourself when you find yourself asking this question again)
Here are some ways to stop making excuses:
Understand locus of control. The first step to stopping making excuses is to examine how much you view life as being in your control. Excuses are often made to shift blame away to circumstances beyond our control.
Internal locus of control is the extent to which you assume responsibility for your actions and believe you can control your life. Having an internal locus of control better focuses you for future success.
External locus of control protects your self-image by blaming fate or others and escaping ownership of your mistakes or failures.
Understand self-efficacy. Your belief in your ability to complete a task greatly influences the actual accomplishment of that task, whether it is a work, fitness, or personal goal. Self-efficacy is based on your past experiences with a task, seeing how others have experienced the same task, how people treat you related to performing that task, and your emotional cues related to the task.
Increase your sense of self-efficacy. There are many things you can do to start building up your confidence in yourself. Small changes allow you to quickly meet goals and start increasing your self-efficacy.
Try making small changes to start. Instead of revamping your entire diet, start by increasing your water intake for a week, then move on to decreasing sugary treats the week after that.
Reflect on past successes. Remembering how you have previously accomplished goals will give you the support you need to accomplish the next one.
Visualize your success. See yourself in that smaller dress size.
Choose a role model. If you are trying to get fit, find a friend who has recently gone through that adjustment herself and look to her for inspiration and advice.
Allow some self-doubt. Don’t expect to be perfect because setbacks and pauses will occur in your journey – setting yourself up to be perfect will only lead to disappointment. Expect to have self-doubt and you can easier adjust and move forward.
Examine your own excuses. Make a list of the excuses you make, consider why you make them, and decide which ones you want to work on stopping first.
Review the excuses you are making about your performance at work. If you find you complain about deadlines, for example, maybe you need to re-examine your workflow process.
Consider what excuses you make about getting healthy. One of the most common is that you don’t have enough time to exercise.
Think about the excuses you make about achieving your life goals.
Develop your problem-solving abilities. Write out what is bothering you, brainstorm how many different ways you can approach the problem, assess the pros and cons of each approach, implement an approach, and evaluate the outcome.
Make a list of your fears. Do you let your fears run the show? Do they keep you in a cycle of excuse after excuse? Write them all down today. Create a list. Look at the fears and read them aloud to yourself. Seeing them on paper diminishes their value.
Write down what you’re doing in response to these fears. After writing down each of your fears, write down what you are doing in response to each of these fears. Know that you cannot fail; by showing up and being the best version of yourself, you have not failed. The mind can play tricks on you, making you live in response to your fears.
Examine your goals. In order to understand how you can better achieve your goals, you need to take a good hard look at them, determine if they are realistic and within your control and your ability, determine what scares you about them, and realize what underlying assumptions you might unconsciously have about them.
Decide on five concrete goals. Put these five goals on paper. Look at them. Start to manifest them. Start to believe you can make them become a part of your life.
Define your goals the SMART way. Make sure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Achievable, Relevant and Realistic, and Timely. Once you set SMART goals, you are more likely to achieve them.
Specific goals have a very focused target. Don’t just say you want to improve at work, say you want to gain 5 new clients this month. Thinking of the who, what, where, when, and why will help ensure your goal is specific.
Measurable goals make it easier to see your progress. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, specify that you want to lose 3 pounds this month.
Achievable goals ensure you do not suffer defeat at the hands of unrealistic expectations. You might want to earn more money but a goal of an extra $1000 in sales might be more achievable than $10,000.
Relevant goals make sure that you aren’t wasting time doing something that might not actually help. If you want to be a more flexible dancer, sign up for a gymnastics class instead of joining a chess league this season.
Time bound goals give you a target date. Some people need the push of a deadline. Say you want to have 10,000 words written for your novel – by the end of the month.
For each goal, come up with three action steps to help make them a reality. Create an action plan for yourself. This is what it all comes down to: ACTION. You can understand something intellectually, but it’s a matter of bringing that down into the heart and taking the steps to make these goals and results your reality.
Start taking personal responsibility by shifting to an internal locus of control. Once you assume ownership for making your workplace more efficient, for example, you can be a more effective contributor. Managers and employees who are more confident, initiate action, take steps, and influence others are seen as more respected and feel more successful at work.
Taking responsibility also means owning up to mistakes without making excuses for them. Everyone makes mistakes, but being honest and accountable makes both learning from mistakes and getting over mistakes easier.
Remind yourself that you have the power to influence your situation and environment. You can change if you make the choice to do so.
Create a one-day plan. Start small. Think about what you can do today to make the results you want part of your reality. Maybe it’s talking with a friend about what it is you truly want. Maybe it’s journaling about what inspires you, lights the fire inside, and brings about a sense of purpose and passion.
Be resourceful. Resourcefulness is one of the key factors to overcoming any challenge. Being resourceful includes asking for help so don’t be afraid to turn to your family, friends, or colleagues for assistance.
Tell someone about your plan. Accountability is everything. Knowing that you’re not alone and that someone else is there on the journey with you is empowering. Tell a friend or family member about this plan. Start working with a professional to bring your ideas and visions to life. Remember, you can’t do it all alone and the more love you let in, the more love you let out, and thus the more results you’ll see.
Become a high-self monitor. Self-monitoring is the ability to assess yourself in order to more easily adjust to a situation. Being able to accurately assess your skills, style, and goals in a particular situation affords you the ability to better adapt, and successful adaptation leads to success in goal achievement.
Self-evaluate. Whether it be how many sales you close at work or how often you cook dinner at home instead of ordering take-out, tracking and evaluating your activities is the best way to witness progress, see what’s working, and fix what’s not helpful. Once you can track and accomplish your goals, you can self-evaluate. Be your own critic. Be objective and realistic when you self-evaluate, and remember, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
Truly embrace compassion. These changes all start with this one word: compassion. Without compassion, you’re stuck in a cycle of fear and excuses. Compassion allows the love to flow through. It allows you to show up, be authentic, and create the life you want for yourself. You can be your own worst enemy and critic. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a loving friend or family member. Take in the fact that you have a choice each and every moment. Align this choice with the results you want for yourself.
Revise your language. If you find yourself engaging in self-doubt, telling yourself you “can’t do it” or “if only…”, you are buying into an external locus of control and may feel stuck in your present situation. Instead, tell yourself, “I think I can.”
Repeat positive mantras such as “I can do this” or “I’m getting better at this.”
Examine your “if only” statements and reword them positively. For example, “if only I had more time” can change to “I can find 10 minutes a day to do yoga.” Believing in yourself is half the battle.
15 Motivational Quotes to Stop Making Excuses: ‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’ Lydia Sweatt March 23, 2017
- “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” —George Washington
- “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin
- “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ―John Wooden
- “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” ―George Washington Carver
- “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.” ―Rudyard Kipling
- “Every vice has its excuse ready.” ―Publilius Syrus
- “If you really want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses.” —Bruce Nauman
- “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” —John Burroughs
- “We have more ability than willpower, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.” ―François de la Rochefoucauld
- “The trouble with excuses is that they become inevitably difficult to believe after they’ve been used a couple of times.” ―Scott Spencer
- “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” ―Edward R. Murrow
- “It is wise to direct your anger towards problems—not people, to focus your energies on answers—not excuses.” ―William Arthur Ward
- “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” ―Henry Ward Beecher
- “People with integrity do what they say they are going to do. Others have excuses.” ―Laura Schlessinger
- “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” ―Mahatma Gandhi
- Whitbourne PhD, Susan; Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: Why People Lie, Cheat, & Procrastinate. Psychology Today. 5/2010.