It seems like common sense and straightforward: In order to stop making excuses, you have to recognize that you’re making them in the first place. Excuses are excuses, right?
You’d think so. But time and time again, our minds play tricks on ourselves into thinking that, well, these excuses are far more important than they actually are. We tell ourselves that instead of excuses, they’re REASONS. And there is a big difference between those two words, my friends.
You want to achieve this, that, and the other—do something, go somewhere, be productive, develop healthy habits. Whatever it is, you feel the drive to make it happen and you anticipate to follow through. But then… you can’t.
Because of a reason or an excuse?
Reasons Vs. Excuses
Reasons give you a guilt-free out. They’re sound. They’re perfectly reasonable (duh, hence the name).
Excuses, on the other hand, are an effort to procrastinate. They’re there not because they need to be, but because you create them. In a way, reasons represent external preventions not to do something—maybe you can’t go to that out-of-your-comfort-zone event because you already made plans. Or you’re genuinely not able to go on that run because of your injured leg. With reasons, that’s where you make an alternative decision—shoot, you can’t go to this event because of these other plans you already have, but what about the next day or another similar event? Or you can’t go on that jog, but what about another form of exercise that doesn’t put pressure on your injured leg?
Meanwhile, excuses are almost entirely internal. Like I mentioned, we create them. You can’t go to the gym because you don’t have gym clothes, or eat healthy because you don’t have the right food in your fridge.
Really? Really? Come on, you’re better than that! Those aren’t reasons, there’s no way “can’t” is an honest word to throw into that sentence.
Okay, so why exactly am I breaking down the definitions of excuses and reasons? We’re smart women, we understand the difference between the two words. But the thing is, there is so much power in our words and how we define our own behavior. Our ways of thinking make an important impact on our entire outlooks and, in turn, actions. If we’re able to sincerely recognize excuses for what they are, rather than labeling them as reasons and, therefore, feeling it’s perfectly acceptable not to achieve something.
If we’re able to face what we originally set out to do and recognize that what’s preventing us from accomplishing it, no matter how big or small, is an excuse at its core, there’s for sure a higher likelihood of us saying, “Screw the excuses! I’m going to do it anyway.” There’s dignity in not doing something for a reason, but we suddenly feel a guilty conscious when we know that we’re creating an excuse. Which makes us more likely to do it, because in so many words, we know better. And since we know we’re better than being full of excuses, we kick our asses into gear and follow through. Boom! No more excuses and we’ve achieved our goal.
Not gonna lie, I sometimes feel like the queen of excuses. Raise your hand if you feel similar?
I used to almost always call them reasons and stand by them with confidence. No, I couldn’t start my month of unlimited yoga because we had family coming to visit. I couldn’t finish the blog post because the Broncos were playing Thursday Night Football. I couldn’t make a healthy dinner because the chicken wasn’t defrosted. And on and on.
One day, my boyfriend finally pointed out that I was just making excuses for myself. While he spoke from a place of love, those words still stung. Me, make excuses? No way! They were logical reasons, and I launched into a defense. But that defense was suddenly a whole lot weaker than before, because deep down I realized that he was completely right. My defenses were just excuses, and I was masking them as reasons to make myself feel better for not following through. It was embarrassing, I admit it, but it had a significant impact moving forward.
There’s always going to be excuses floating around, and sometimes we will seize on them. Sometimes they’ll make perfect sense and teeter on an excuse or a reason. You know what? Sometimes it is okay to choose the excuse over the action just for right now, because maybe the best thing for you is to take care of yourself in the moment.
But for the most part, what is stopping you?
What’s stopping you from eating healthy, or going to the gym? Or spending an hour or two on your blog/online business after an exhausting day at your 9 to 5? Or reaching out to that one friend to make plans? The list is endless—some people go through their whole lives full to the brim of excuses. And then they look back and realize they really didn’t accomplish much at all. Don’t you know someone like that?
I know I have those weeks, months—hell, I’ve even gone through a few years where I look back with a cringe and admit that yes, that year was embarrassingly full of excuses. Instead of dwelling on the shame and excuses and wondering why the hell I did that to myself, it’s essential to look forward. Yes, excuses are going to come up, plain and simple. But define them for the excuses that they are vs. the reasons you want them to be.
Take Control of Your Relationship with Excuses
When you plan to accomplish something and the time comes and you’re about to not do it—ask yourself why. And when you answer that “why” question, ask yourself where that reasoning came from. Did you make it up? Seriously, think on it. Is there an external reason that you truly can’t do this, or did you kinda sorta make it up? Chances are, you conjured up that reason and wham—you almost just let an excuse take over disguised as a reason. But you know better, and you’re not going to let the excuse win.
Recognize your excuses. OWN your excuses. And then dismiss them. Your life, your daily routine, your energy does not have time to listen to excuses. They’re not going anywhere, and it’s best to understand and accept that excuses are part of life. Productive, successful, on-top-of-the-world individuals conjure up just as many excuses as the rest of us. They just acknowledge them as excuses, as opposed to external reasons, and push past. It’s a daily struggle, and you’ll learn to recognize your pattern. Seriously, talk to yourself and have that conversation in your head. When a reason not to do something pops up in your mind and you cling to it, ask yourself why you aren’t going to do this or that. Oh, you’re tired? Is it really going to ruin your day to suck it up and push through?
(By all means, if the answer is yes, then proceed with the excuse. No one is going to stop you except yourself. But if you know better, if that bit of guilt is even a shadow in your deepest conscious, get the fuck up and smack that excuse away.)
Our relationships with our excuses play a large part in how we live our daily lives. Now is precisely the time to learn how you are going to recognize them for what they are, respond to them, and push past them. You are in control of your life. Not excuses—not even reasons.
Now go kick some ass, girl 🙂