He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.Benjamin Franklin
Oops, another excuse…
Do you ever catch yourself making excuses when things don’t turn out as you had expected? Have you ever neglected taking responsibility for the events and circumstances of your life? Or have you ever tried to explain away why you didn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t or simply wouldn’t do something? These are all subtle signs that indicate you are living a life of excuses, which prevent you from living to your full potential.
What Are Excuses?
Excuses are rationalizations we make to ourselves about people, events and circumstances. They are invented reasons we create to defend our behavior, to neglect taking a particular kind of action, or simply as a means of negating responsibility. Excuses are in essence a means of placing blame OF an internal problem ON an external condition.
Reasons We Make Excuses
There are many reasons why people make excuses. In fact everyone has different reasons for making them. However, when it boils down to it, we only make excuses for the following main reasons:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Embarrassment
- Fear of Success
- Fear of Change
- Fear of Uncertainty
- Fear of Responsibility
- Fear of Making Mistakes
- Perceived lack of confidence or resources
To eliminate excuses from our lives we must first look at eliminating all traces of fear.
Fear traps and locks us away within our comfort zone. Yet fear often develops as a result of a lack of understanding, information, resources, experience or perspective. If you lack all these things, you will naturally lack confidence, and as a result you will fail to take the action necessary to achieve your goals and objectives. Consequently you will tend to make excuses about your life and circumstances in order to help boost your self-esteem. However, all you’re doing is creating the illusion of security. You’re simply masking the pain by taking a pain killer. The pain is still there, and will continue to persist until you finally overcome your fears.
Consequences of Making Excuses
Living a life of excuses can 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 in the first place. Sometimes this is difficult to do, however it’s absolutely necessary and critical if you want to eliminate the resulting consequences. Ask yourself:
What excuses do I tend to make?
What am I settling for?
Furthermore, you must identify the reasons for your excuses. Ask yourself:
Why am I making these excuses?
Finally, list down the consequences that each of these excuses has on your life and circumstances by asking:
How do these excuses prevent me from moving forward?
How do they cripple my ability to get what I want?
Types of Excuses
Excuses come in many forms and we tend to make them in many different ways.
Even though excuses vary from person-to-person there are certain excuses that we all tend to make at one point or another, and within this section we will break down these excuses and discuss what they mean and how we can deal with them when they crop up in our lives.
Pay attention to your excuses as they can teach you more about yourself than you ever thought was possible. Not only will they help you identify your weaknesses and flaws, but they will also help you identify the areas of your life that you should be giving more attention.
Excuse #1: There’s not enough time…
Means that you’re lacking passion, focus, discipline and direction. Likewise, it suggests that your priorities are out of sorts and that you may be lacking the ability to manage your time effectively.
Alternatively, this excuse could indicate that you simply don’t value your time or just don’t want to take the time to do what you feel you must in order to achieve your desired outcomes. In fact, the causes for this excuse could very well be narrowed down to procrastination or laziness.
When you catch yourself making this excuse, ask yourself:
How badly do I really want this?
A lack of desire could be the cause for concern.
Excuse #2: There’s not enough money…
Means that you don’t consider money to be a priority or you are simply looking for an easy way to make money and therefore don’t have the desire, determination, persistence or patience to work hard to achieve financial security.
This excuse also suggests that you could simply be lacking strategy or ideas that could help you reach your financial objectives.
If it’s ideas and strategy you’re lacking, then go out there and read a few books, get a mentor or a financial coach who can help you gain the necessary knowledge and understanding you need to succeed financially.
Excuse #3: I don’t have an education…
Means that you lack creativity, inspiration and desire. In addition, it would seem that you also lack a willingness to work hard and go the extra mile to put in a little more effort into achieving your objectives — despite your lack of knowledge.
There are many multi-millionaires and billionaires who have nothing more than a high school education. Some don’t even have that. However, they were creative, had desire and were willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve their goals and objectives.
Excuse #4: I’m too old or young…
Means you lack understanding, confidence or perspective.
Men and women of all ages have achieved great things. Therefore you are never too old or too young to attain your goals and objectives. It might be a little more difficult, which means that you may need to be more persistent, creative and open yourself up to a greater array of experiences and opportunities. Alternatively, your age could actually work to your advantage. It just depends on your perspective and your ability to think flexibly about your circumstances.
Learn from your failures and mistakes, gain understanding and confidence from your experience, and this will soon shift your perspective about what’s possible to achieve.
Excuse #5: I don’t know how…
Means you lack belief and confidence in your own abilities. It also means that you haven’t taken the time to practice, learn, or to gain the experience or education necessary to “know what to do”.
This excuse is really very easy to combat. Simply LEARN how to do what you want to do by reading books, by gaining practical experience, by asking for help, etc. Only by making mistakes over and over again will you eventually discover what works or doesn’t work for you. From there, simply adjust your strategy and approach, and you will very quickly discover that you finally know what to do.
Excuse #6: I can’t change…
Means you lack motivation and reason to change. Moreover, this suggests that you lack emotional pain that would help you to accelerate change.
When it comes to our motives and desires we are always pulled forward by the desire for pleasure, or pushed forward by the desire to avoid pain. If you don’t believe you can change, the reason for this is that you simply haven’t associated enough pain to NOT changing. Once you begin to look at all the dire consequences that will result from NOT making a change, then you will soon realize that the motivation was always there.
If I don’t make this change, how will this affect my life in the weeks, months and years ahead?
What am I likely to miss out on?
How am I going to feel?
How is this going to affect my relationships with others?
How will this affect my health?
How will this affect my career prospects?
What other negative consequences could result from not making this change?
Having written down all the negative consequences, now make a list of all the great things that could potentially occur if you did decide to make a change today.
If I make this change, what could the potential benefits be?
How will I feel?
How will others feel?
How will my life improve today, next week, next month and in the years to come?
What other positive benefits could result from making this change?
Excuse #7: I’m afraid to fail…
Means you lack understanding, confidence, knowledge and experience.
Anthony Robbins once said that fear is nothing more than “False Evidence Appearing Real”. It’s our perspective of fear that frightens us and prevents us from moving forward. However, once we gain knowledge and understanding about the thing we fear, then that is the moment we build enough confidence to move forward and gain some experience. Subsequently with enough ‘experience’ under our belt, we develop even greater self-confidence that will propel us through our fears and towards the attainment of our goals and objectives.
Also consider that the road to success is always paved with obstacles, challenges and problems. Along this path everyone makes mistakes. However, those who fail are those who simply give up and excuse their life away.
Persist, persevere and resist the temptation to give-in to your excuses, gain the necessary knowledge, understanding and experience, and slowly but surely your self-confidence will propel you past your fears and towards your goals and objectives.
Excuse #8: It’s not the right time…
Means you lack perspective, information and resources.
Sometimes it’s simply not the right time to take action. However, more often than not this is just a lame excuse that should indicate you lack perspective or you simply don’t have the necessary resources to deal with the circumstances at hand. Therefore your first objective is to acquire the necessary resources you need that will help you to attain your desired outcome.
Once your resources are in place, you may still need to gather more information about your predicament, which will help you to transform your perspective. The moment these items are checked off your list, you will soon find that the right time is always, right NOW!
Excuse #9: I have to plan thoroughly first…
Means you’re lacking perspective or you’re simply paralyzed by fear.
There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future, or taking the time to lay out a clear plan of action. However, if planning is all you do, then this indicates that there might be underlying fears that are preventing you from moving forward. Identify and overcome these fears and subsequently you will overcome your need for over-planning.
Excuse #10: It won’t work…
Means you lack self-belief, motivation, creativity, patience, perspective and persistence. All of these qualities are essential if you desire to eventually make things work. In fact, these qualities are absolutely essential for everything of value that you want to create in your life.
Excuse #11: I’m not inspired…
Means you’ve got poor habits which lead to a lack of discipline.
Have a think about what kinds of habits you indulge in on a daily basis and about your typical routine and the rituals you partake in throughout the day. More often than not you will find that inspiration isn’t a problem if you simply take the time to transform how you go about your day. For instance a lack of sleep could be causing you to feel tired which leads to a lack of inspiration. If we dig a little deeper we could find that it’s your diet that’s causing your sleepless nights, or that your lack of sleep is a result of not getting enough exercise throughout the week. Moreover, maybe you’re simply not getting enough exercise because you’re working longer hours then usual and therefore don’t have time to allocate for exercise.
There are many habits and scenarios that could be brought forth here. However, the important thing to remember is that a lack of inspiration is often due to many interrelated factors that at first may seem unrelated. However, the deeper we dig, the more patterns we will find, and the more patterns we find the more likely we are to identify where our lack of inspiration stems from.
Eliminating Your Excuses Forever!
Within the previous section we discussed specific types of excuses and presented some ideas on how to eradicate them from our lives. Within this section we will discuss some general ideas, suggestions and techniques we can use to eliminate all excuses forever.
Before digging into these strategies, it’s important to understand that our excuses lead to stagnation and a life of regrets. Moreover, success in any field of endeavor requires a period of discomfort where we must venture into unfamiliar territories, never knowing what to expect.
Avoid Making Comparisons
Making comparisons between yourself and others will often make you feel disheartened if you are unable to live up to people’s standards and achievements. Instead, only compare yourself to your “best self”. No other comparisons are necessary. If through your highest efforts you surpass your personal best, then that’s good enough, at least until your next attempt.
Avoid Dwelling on the Past
The moment we begin dwelling on past mistakes or failures is the moment we begin experiencing the emotion of regret. Immediately we look to point the finger at someone or something else in order to justify our failures, instead of taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. As a result, we begin rationalizing and making excuses for our failed attempts.
If you begin today by focusing on the present moment rather than on the past, then this will help you throw all your excuses out the door. Yes, by all means learn from your mistakes and failures, but do not use them as a platform for your encyclopedia of excuses.
Begin By Asking Questions
The moment you catch yourself making excuses, immediately ask yourself the following set of questions:
How badly do I really want this?
Why don’t I have what I want?
What excuses are getting in the way?
These questions will essentially help you to identify the GAP between your current and desired reality. This likewise will help you to get a better understanding of the circumstances that are holding you back from getting what you want most out of life.
The moment you identify these excuses, examine what you are lacking (as we did in the previous section), question the validity of your excuses, and take immediate action to fill these areas with everything required to keep moving you forward towards your goals and objectives.
Is this a genuine REASON, or is it simply an excuse?
If this is an excuse, then what is it that I’m currently lacking?
What do I need specifically that will help me move beyond this excuse?
What’s the next step I need to take right now that will move me closer to my goals?
Focus on Solutions and Opportunities
When making excuses we often focus on problems, regrets and on things that just didn’t work. Therefore to eradicate excuses from our lives we must instead begin focusing on solutions, opportunities and on the things that did work. It’s a simple shift, but if we keep this principle at the forefront of our mind when making excuses, it will immediately transform our perspective of the situation at hand.
Seek Alternate Perspectives
Often the excuses we make are a result of a lack of perspective. We simply don’t have or know about the bigger picture. It’s like looking through a keyhole. You will never see the entire room, but only a small section of that room.
Say for instance you looked through a keyhole and saw papers scattered all over a table. It would be easy to assume that the entire room is an absolute mess. However, we don’t have the full picture, do we? The rest of the room could be clean and spotless, however our lack of perspective is preventing us from seeing the bigger picture.
Seek alternate perspectives by asking other people for their opinions, comments, and feedback. Get an understanding of how they see the situation before you commit to making your excuses.
Accept Full Responsibility for Failures and Mistakes
Excuses are often made because we simply don’t want to take responsibility for our shortcomings.
When we take full responsibility for all failures and mistakes we begin to gain confidence in ourselves and our own abilities. Moreover, we begin to feel empowered because life is no longer built upon luck or good fortune, but rather on our ability to successfully adapt to the changing conditions that life throws our way.
Learn from Past Experience
Instead of making excuses, commit to learning from this experience in order to better yourself for the future.
What can I learn from this experience?
What has this experience taught me about myself, life and others?
How can I use this experience to do better in the future?
What action could I take right now that would help me take a step in this direction?
Focus on Your Strengths
When making excuses we often focus on how inadequate and incapable we are. This limits our focus and brings to light all of our weaknesses. To counter this we should instead focus on our strengths and how we can use them to make the best of every situation.
Cultivate Four Critical Qualities
Finally, to overcome your excuses always cultivate patience, optimism, confidence and persistence. And if you must make excuses, then at least keep them private. Nobody likes people who can’t take responsibility for their decisions and actions.
Benjamin Franklin once said that:
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
As critical as this sounds, it’s probably not too far from the truth. Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about things, that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation no matter what the outcome. Maybe from today onwards, we will remember his words and take them to heart.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and that you took the time to download thelife of excuses mind map which is available as a printable pdf poster from the IQ Matrix Store. I’ve designed it as a reference guide you can use to help you understand the key concepts and ideas presented within this article. I look forward to hearing any comments or questions you might have.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Would you like to keep these concepts at the forefront of your mind? If so, then you might like to download the accompanying mind map reference poster to your iPad, tablet or computer. The map presents you with a quick overview of this article. It’s designed specifically to help improve your memory and recall of this information so that you can better integrate these concepts into your daily thoughts, habits and actions.
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 4 Excuses that will Prevent You from Succeeding @ Mr. Self Development
- 6 Simple Ways to Eliminate Your Excuses @ Dumb Little Man
- 6 Traits that Separate Winners from Whiners @ Pick the Brain
- 7 Tips for Moving through the Land of “If Only” @ Life Optimizer
- 13 Ways to Stop Making Excuses @ Discovering Purpose
- 99 Excuses for Not Making Ideas Happen @ The 99 Percent
- 106 Excuses that Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great @ Chris Brogan
- Being Extraordinary: Excuses You Need to Stop! @ Reason 4 Smile
- BS Excuses You Are Making Right Now @ Allison Nazarian
- Do You Use “Lack of Motivation” as an Excuse? @ Scott H. Young
- How to Kills Your Excuses @ Zen Habits
- The Excuses Culture: Why We Protect Ourselves with Excuses @ The Daily Mind
- Top 5 Excuses You Use to Sabotage Your Life @ Change Your Thoughts
- Top Excuses for Not Achieving Your Goals @ 2 Achieve Your Goals