Excuses are easy.
They’re readily available for any situation. They trick us into believing life within our comfort zone is better anyway. They make us believe that how our life now is just how it’ll always be because that’s just how things work. And they’ll even give us the chance to shift responsibility from our own actions onto others.
- It’s too cold outside to go to the gym.
- I’m too old to start a new job.
- I don’t have time to learn a new skill.
After making enough of them, we get to a point where we come to terms and accept that our life is what it will always be (“giving up”), or we get sick of making excuses and decide to take responsibility for where we are now & put in the work toward where we want to go — without our excuses.
Our excuses don’t matter — our actions do.
We must kill off our excuses in order to be a thriving leader and compete every day for the career/health/life we desire. We can have our excuses or we can reach our goals — but we can’t do both. Excuses prevent growth and can lead to a life of failed potential.
Here are five ways to help you kill your excuses and start living a stronger life without them.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR EXCUSES
Time to get real with yourself. What excuses are you making (and accepting) as ok? What do you continually use as your go-to out for specific activities or actions? Make a list of all the excuses you are making, and add to it as you catch yourself using an excuse.
Be honest (even harsh) with your list. Write down everything you use as excuses to:
- Why you didn’t do something
- Why you didn’t achieve something
- What someone else “has” that you don’t — and why you don’t have it too
We must identify what we wish to kill off. Writing down your list of excuses will help make these real instead of go-to outs you use whenever you feel discomfort. This also helps us identify them when we use them and why — which leads us to step two.
2. SPEND TIME ASKING YOURSELF WHY YOU MAKE A SPECIFIC EXCUSE
Invest time into reviewing your list and understanding why you make each excuse. Keep “peeling the onion” behind the excuse to understand the deeper meaning of why you are using a certain excuse.
One excuse I made continually in my late teens / early 20s when it came to dating is that “I was too focused on a career to be ‘tied down.’” In reality, I was making that excuse as a way to keep my distance from true connection and intimacy because I was afraid of getting hurt. I used my career aspirations as an excuse to keep a wall up — but it wasn’t until I spent time diving into this excuse did I start to understand why I was using it.
It’s only by investing time to dig into the roots of our excuses can we determine why we are continually making them — and how we can go about creating positive action habits to replace them with.
Author’s note: It’s 100% ok if you meet with a counselor. There’s zero shame or embarrassment for anyone willing to work with someone to bring out their best self. Don’t believe otherwise.
3. FIND FRIENDS WHO WILL PUSH YOU — AND CALL YOU OUT
Your relationships play an integral role in getting rid of your excuses. If you spend the majority of your free time with people who constantly make excuses & avoid responsibility, why would you expect to be any different? It’s important to invest our time with the type of people who will:
- Encourage us — pick us up & inspire us to keep going.
- Challenge us — call us out when we make excuses
- Remind us of who we say we want to be — and then challenge us when our actions don’t align with our vision for our life.
Calling yourself out when you use excuses is one thing — but having someone else to hold you accountable raises your success rate substantially. Find a workout partner, ask a coworker or a long-distance friend who can consistently hold you accountable for cutting your excuses — and call you out when you make them.
4. STOP PLAYING THE COMPARISON GAME
Looking at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your own behind-the-scenes story is a formula for disappointment. The majority of times we compare ourselves to others, we’re looking at those who have already accomplished what we want to achieve — and feel pangs of disappointment that we’re not at their level too.
We focus solely on the gap between where we are right now and where someone else is — without every knowing the story & time it took that person to get “there.”
A racer can’t run at top speed if they’re worrying what everyone else racing is doing too. It’s only by focusing on their race, their lane, and their finish line that they reach top speed. The same applies to life. We fail to reach our full potential when we allow ourselves to be distracted by what everyone else is doing and compare ourselves to them.
Focus on your lane. Run your race. And remember this: everyone “there” at the point you wish to be at once started at the exact same starting line you’re standing at now.
5. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR EVERY ACTION
You can’t be a Competitor if you’re going to shirk responsibility to someone else. The three things we always control are:
- Our focus
- Our attitude
- Our actions
So it’s 100% on us if we choose to pass the blame to someone else or take responsibility for what our actions are. It’s also 100% on us if we’re going to choose to lead others by showing them how to take responsibility.
A great leader accepts responsibility for their actions in a situation — even if most of it was outside of their control.
- It was my fault for being late. I should have planned more responsibly knowing how the weather can impact traffic.
- I’ll take responsibility. I should have been more prepared for this presentation and any curveballs the client could have thrown.
- I just need to work harder. I know my natural talent isn’t as good as my competition, so I’ll have to be better about outworking them.
YOUR EXCUSES DON’T MATTER. YOUR RESULTS DO.
Too old. Too cold. Too inexperienced. Too this or too that… it doesn’t matter what excuse you’ve allowed yourself to use. What matters is that you get rid of using your excuses today and start competing. What you say doesn’t matter.
What you do does.