Stop Taking Excuses

Photo Credit: Ellie Roscher

Roughly 46 days ago I started using my Freedom Journal from John Lee Dumas. For the first 43 days, everything was going great. I was journaling everyday, blogging everyday and loving myself a bit more for my sticktoitiveness (it’s a real word- I promise). Throughout my daily blogs I was challenging myself to be a better writer, write about different topics, trying new styles and engaging more with other writers to understand and get a feel for what made a well written piece appealing. I was having fun with it and the momentum was great! However, there was one piece that I was never satisfied with; my lack of preparation for a “rainy day.”

Since the beginning I have been building a list of topics I would like to write about. These are inspired through podcasts, current events or interactions I have throughout my day. The list isn’t overwhelmingly large but there are enough topics to make it through a week or two. This, I am happy with. The part that I am not happy with is I never took the time to type two posts in one day simply to, “have one in the hopper.” This would be saved for the rare occasion that a day fills up and the keyboard escapes me or something outside of my control restricts my ability to put “pen to pad.” Based on the title, you can only guess that day has come. And in fact, that one day turned into two days. So what happened on day 44 that stopped me in my tracks? That’s easy, I failed to get ahead through days 1–43.

Sure there is a long, drawn out story as to what actually happened and why I didn’t post for the last two days and as much as I would love to tell the story, as it is interesting, I would only be giving an excuse. Because no matter how you shake it, the only real reason I didn’t post over the last two days is I simply did not plan ahead. I did not taken the necessary steps to guard against routine life events. I did not do something I frequently desired because to my core, I must not have believed I needed to. Nope, clearly I hadn’t set myself up for the best route to success throughout this 100 day endeavor.

Knowing that this is my fault and knowing it was completely avoidable, there was still a part of me that wanted to write the story of what happened because I knew it would cause folks to understand, People would read it and count it as acceptable to take a couple of days away but in the end, I couldn’t. My mind kept going back to this quote:

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

Many, many, many people talk about excuses. The mantra’s about them are endless. “Everyone has one and they all stink.” “Be stronger than your excuses.” “Some find an excuse while others find a way.” You get the point. Yet, what makes this quote from Florence Nightingale really stand out for me is when she said or took. We often look at excuses as something we give ourselves to avoid taking responsibility for a misstep. They’re our alibi. Many people will in fact overcome these and not use them because deep down they realize they are only cheating themselves and even more-so, no one else will believe it anyway. For me, these are the easy excuses to defeat since it’s a battle of one.

On the other hand, there are the excuses we allow others to give us. These may come at times when we don’t expect them or when some people truly deserve one and they seem to hold more weight. With that, they are easier to take in stride. I, for one, have been known to take an excuse. Perhaps it was a short night of sleep, a slightly injured ankle or simply a product of the environment but in either case, multiple people would have no problem giving me a way out and I would accept just as easily. As time has passed and I have looked more into what I do and what I teach my daughter, I realize just how poisonous this can be. It became clear to me that accepting one small excuse would put me on that slippery slope, which is not a good place to be standing when peering into the future.

In the end, I will not achieve my goal of writing and posting 100 blogs in 100 consecutive days. Although this stinks and even though there may have been a viable reason why this didn’t come to fruition (from an outsiders perspective), it won’t change my drive moving forward. One of my smaller goals throughout this project has been to develop a better system to foster more complete blogs. This minor set back has done nothing more than expose me to the importance of that system. Then again, I could take the excuse. I could blame this on an outside influencing factor and move forward on my path. However, if I did accept that excuse it certainly wouldn’t prevent the problem from surfacing again. I wouldn’t learn and grow. I would simply stay where I am. Sure accepting excuses feels great in the present but in the future, it will most certainly cause a feeling of regret.