Inspired by John Jackson, SFM Digital Experts Academy.
I‘ve been busy lately to identifying excuses, which I had been doing in the past – recent and distant.
I noticed that it all starts with a little tiny voice in my head, which repeatedly chants, “You can’t do that” or “You are not wise enough to …” or “I can do it tomorrow“.
Seriously, that bugs me since it works against my strive to achieve my purpose – to be of support to others and help them discover their inner gift. Because if I want to give to others, I first need to create it in myself, right?
So, why can’t I be in integrity with my purpose? Then I realize that the little voice is actually my own mind, sabotaging my productive creativity by doing crazy things to me…
Our mind is a fantastic creation. It is an amazingly beautiful thing. But I also started realizing – one way or another – that some things are not so good. And one of the primary ones, I discovered, is that …
The mind is a powerful excuse-making machine
It hit me that the mind, all too frequently, tries to convince us not to take actions that we know are good enough for us to get what we deserve to be. And that prevents many positive changes to take place in our life.
We all do it. I am myself, a master in that field. So I am not gonna sit here and display innocence.
However, I have learned to watch for those excuses very carefully, in order to make some positive changes in my life. Those changes are mostly in the range of healthy diet, more sleep, more movement, meditation, frequent reading, expressing gratitude, writing, better focusing, appreciation of things I have, and I know …
Starting today, I am going to recognize some things, namely: There are no short cuts, there are no quick fixes. There is no blaming others, and there is no “I am gonna do it tomorrow.”
We often have excuses, and we lean on them because it is easier like that – to not change, not take action, not move a muscle, not exercise our thinking stuff, and so on. So what can we do to defeat them?
I believe the only way to do that is to …
… unveil the truth about those excuses
There are areas in my life, where I had succeeded in making positive changes when I was put in situations that manufacture excuses to cover up failures.
I still remember the day I could not find my son at the schoolyard. I could come up with well-fabricated excuses for why I could not find him and sought to blame others, the traffic, the circumstances, or the bad weather in the Netherlands. In fact, until I knew better, I failed countless times, giving up to my excuses. In my young mind, I could only find profound apologies and no alternatives for action.
So, I began wondering why the mind messes with us and makes these irrational excuses.
How about bringing some awareness of what happens with us when we think of an excuse? Because only with awareness, there is progress in understanding. Then, with better understanding comes the Knowing. Then the Doing. Then we see the Mastering. Then, we experience Perfection.
Thus, let’s get this straight: get frank with our minds and find – to a level of great depth – what does our mind actually want?
Our mind wants comfort!
Our mind is afraid of pressure. It is scared of change. Scared of failing. The mind is absorbed in its own comfort zone. And any time we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long, towards new horizons, the mind tries desperately to get back to ground zero. And it does it at any cost – nobel or tricksy – including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness, success, fulfillment, good habits, relationships, kindness, love … whatever we try to work hard for.
So, I have decided: I will expose some excuses. And with that, I plant some seeds on how to respond to those excuses, so we have a higher level of understanding about each pretext our mind throws at us.
Let us start with a common one:
“I can’t do this.”
“… I can’t do it! I simply can’t …“
Most people stop there and attempt no further course of action. This statement is too strong to overcome and counter. Seems too difficult at first.
The solution: simply, believe in yourself that you can take yet another small step towards your goal. Other people can do it. You are not less capable of going one extra step. You’ve done it so many times in your life, right?
The truth is: the only person who can tell you YOU can’t do it, is you. So if you hear those words at the back of your mind, tune them out. Remember, your doubts and your faith have something in common – they both ask you to believe in something you cannot see. You simply have to decide which one you want to believe in.
Laziness is attractive. Dedication and hard work always lead to fulfillment and satisfaction in the long run. If you want to do something, you find a way; if not – you find an excuse.
* * *
How about this one?
“They can do it, but that does not apply to me !”
“They are way better than me, they have more skills.
Because, you know, with my circumstances, yeah, I can’t do it…“
Here is the reality: just because someone else can, does not mean that you can’t. You just look for reasons why they can do it, and you can’t.
- “He is a successful entrepreneur, he has no kids, no obligation. I have no time, I have family and responsibilities …” or maybe
- “She is way fitter – she can run that marathon, I can’t“, or
- “They have a supportive spouse, and I don’t” or
- “They are so young and strong …“.
It is so simple to find an excuse and obliterate the motivation that holds your inner center. But, say, look at those people who had considerable obstacles in their lives and still made it. We all know of those people!
I am sure you can recall moments of your life when you have overcome adversities and have risen above the ashes to see another day of future and progress. Who hasn’t experienced that at least once?
There are stories about people with disabilities and illnesses who have reinvented themselves and achieved great things – no matter the costs and the conditions. Then, I came to believe that whatever obstacles one has in their lives, at that very moment, the obstacles can be overcome.
* * *
Here is another one:
“I am stuck …”
“… and looking at my life, I just don’t have the time to make these changes. It takes me forever to …”
Hey, have you ever met a successful, fulfilled individual who has not taken control over their life? Or who has made excuses for their unsatisfying life? Ever seen anybody like that? No!
As a matter of fact, we write our destiny with the choices we make every single day. We become what we repeatedly do; hence, it is more important to know where we are going and WHY instead of going there quicky.
In fact, the most important thing in life is knowing what the most important things are! And prioritizing those accordingly. Most of us spend most of our time on urgent and unimportant things.
So, I propose: Think first about what is urgent and what is important. Make a list. Think about that. Meditate on it. Then, once you make this list, look at it, and make commitments to do the important things first. Because it is plain simple: the important things are the ones that will make you move forward.
* * *
How about that one:
“Oh man, it will be too hard, simply because I can’t get by without …”
(You can fill the three dots above).
Each of us can put something in place of the three dots. “I need my wine, I need my sweets, I need money, I need my break, I need my TV shows, I need my fancy wardrobe, …” And the list goes as long as the river Nile …
I am not discounting these things, but those are often luxuries that we convince ourselves we can’t live without. So we can justify not to make changes in our lives – not making time for ourselves, not exercising, not eating healthy, not saving, not spending time with family, not simplifying our lives, or building a profitable business.
I am not immune here – I made all those excuses my self, as well. But I began to understand that they all came to be lies. I know now that I don’t really need all of those things in my life. When I tell myself that I need them is only getting in the way of creating positive changes for my well-being.
* * *
Here is the next one:
“Isn’t life supposed to be easier and joyful?”
Sure. I agree. Life should be enjoyable and fun. But here is a mini problem when we repeatedly convince us: “The life should *always* be easy. It should *always* be enjoyable.”. Those phrases are here to justify all kinds of lazy behavior. I could just sit on the couch, pop up those chips, and binge-watch all the series of “Narcos” on Netflix – because, “man, life should always be easy, right?“.
Well, think about that: you can still do without that junk food and still enjoy life. You can do some physical exercises and still like it. I am not saying you need to give up completely TV watching, but do not make it at the center of your existence. You could give some comfort away and not lose a thing. In fact, the path of least resistance is often the path of least reward. Think about it.
We all need to do hard things. Einstein has said it:
“Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”,
… and he is right. There is no shortcut to the places worth going. You gotta run if you wanna be a runner. You gotta write if you wanna be a writer. You need to master that business skill if you want to be a business person. There is no substitute for doing the work. It won’t be easy, but its gonna be worth it.
* * *
I’ve heard a good number of people who love to lean on that one:
“I just deserve a break.”
It is true: we all deserve a fair treat – a day off here and a day off there. I am not saying you should not give yourself a reward for the hard work you’ve done. But if one makes that rationalization as a primary rule for living, he will always be on a break.
How about considering “sticking to my plans” as being a reward on itself. I see reaching my goals as a gift I give myself. If I need to do that walk and do the work, according to my plan, I better do it if I want to see a change. Because if I don’t change, nothing else changes.
* * *
My favourite …
“I can do that later !”
Indeed, you can. You can always do it later. The irony in this is that your later-self will feel precisely the same way. Hence, let’s ponder on that statement for a second: Why should your later-self be more disciplined than your present-self? There is no reason!
In fact, allowing yourself to postpone things, permits the habit of procrastination to flourish. More so, it is even less likely that your later-self will be more disciplined – because that later-self, already has the “positive” experience to excuse itself.
Thus, let us stop making excuses about why we can’t get things done. Shall we focus on the reasons why we must make it happen? Stop talking about what we could– or going to do. Simply do it now. Let actions speak for the results.
I’ve learned the harsh way: the most significant things in life don’t happen by chance. They happen by choice. And we can’t find what is possible until we risk finding it out. In the long run, there is only one thing that can make your dream and goals completely impossible to achieve – that is the lack of action today.
* * *
Here is another poisonous one:
“I can’t be better. I already failed so much”
Little news flash here: you are only human. Everybody has failed, some more, some worse. If you break down, that is fine. Just don’t stay down! Rest, recharge, and pick yourself up, so you can go to where you’d rather be. Mistakes make us wiser. Failures, they help us grow. Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep living.
In the words of Winston Churchill,
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Persistence is the mother of all productive efforts. Failures – whether small or grand – they happen to all of us. Nobody is protected.
Those who succeed are those who don’t quit. Because once you learn how to quit, that on its own becomes a habit. Better learn how to stop quitting and keep going.
* * *
I saved this one as last, to make again the point about time:
“It is just too late for me now … “
“I missed my opportunities. It is late for me to …”
Change is costly. Growing to that change is optional. You can remain stuck or learn to grow. Where you end up depends solely on your daily attitude and your response to adversities. And that relates closely to one’s purpose in life – what you do in your daily routine, defines your reaction to the circumstances. Because, if your purpose is to help your kids grow or clean the ocean from plastic waste, there is no “late” moment to do that, regardless of the elements. It is never late to change your attitude towards something you can’t change – like “age” and “time”. Just decide to make the best of it – no excuses, no regrets.
Frankly, nothing is too late, until …. your heart stops beating. So, while it is still beating – and if you can hear that – congratulations: you are ALIVE. Which means it is not too late for you. Things can change if you want them to change. At any age.
Make choices, not excuses. Right now, you can choose to make something new happen. Your future is now. Grab it with both hands. Keep moving forward, keep moving on.
And when you come to a roadblock and you are faced with a choice to sit down and pull your hairs OR do something, please choose the latter.
Think, blink, crawl, step, climb, walk, read a paragraph, move a finger, listen to a podcast, help your kid with grammar, express gratitude, write a letter – do whatever – but move your life forward. No excuses.
* * *
So today, stop making excuses for what you cannot do.
Start telling yourself what you can do.
And do it.
Simply do it.