Making excuses comes from a fundamental lack of concern regarding our responsibility. It’s just like when you used to excuse yourself from the family dinner table, you were saying that you didn’t want to be obligated to do something, namely, eat your vegetables or visit with Aunt Lucy.
Excusing ourselves from the table of real life responsibilities, however,places an unnecessary burden on others and ultimately comes back to limit our own potential.When we abdicate responsibility over a long enough stretch of time we eventually short-circuit our ability to be successful.
But by understanding the root causes of our excuses and how to eliminate them, we can empower ourselves to reach our potential. Although there are a million excuses out there, the causes of each ultimately fall into three major categories. Fortunately, each has a solution.
Here are the 3 main sources of your excuses:
Source #1: Laziness
We humans really crave our comfort. Think of how many times you have come up with some reason to avoid going to the gym. Sure, once you start to develop your endurance and gain some momentum you begin to get motivated. But until then it’s easy to find excuses to not go. It’s far easier to sit at home on the couch and watch Netflix.
When we avoid things that we don’t really want to do and choose an easier option, it comes down to not seeing the value in it. We just don’t see how it’s worth it to expend the time and energy to endure the pain when an easier option exists.
We are conditioned in life to take the most comfortable route possible. Unless we see the value we just won’t commit. If we don’t see the urgency we can expect excuses to entire our lives.
This was the case for me in the past regarding planning for my future financial independence. I don’t know why, but at the time I never felt any urgency in this area. And, of course, I now regret those excuses. If only I had seen a greater value in it.
“Excuses sound best to the people makin’ them up” – Tyrese Gibson
In order to see the value of something, we have to begin to focus on both the benefits and the consequences. This covers the two opposite ends of the same spectrum.
In my retirement planning example, my focus on benefits might have helped me see that I would gain several things by not excusing myself from that responsibility. The first might have been that I would have a higher self-esteem for doing what I should have been doing anyway. Another might have been the ability to save up for a few nice trips when I’m done working. These are things that could have genuinely benefited me and that I could have seen the value of.
And by evaluating the possible consequences for making the excuses I might have come square-faced to the fact that I might have trouble retiring or not be able to afford some of the things that might be necessary as I begin aging more.
To beat the excuse of laziness we have to find urgency through a proper understanding of both the benefits and consequences of that which we are trying to excuse ourselves from.
Source #2: Fear
For many of us, our lives are dominated by fear. This is because we don’t see that there is anything higher than ourselves. We are self-focused.
In this kind of a state, if we are called to take on a risk whether that be financial, emotional, or even physical, we tend to throw up roadblocks in the way as excuses. In our minds, we are all there is so nothing could be so worth our harm.
But such a position brings a complete halt to our growth. We have to push through a little risk or our lives will remain stagnant. Although we might not ever entirely conquer our fear there is a way to gain the upper-hand on it and prevent it from fueling our excuses.
Have you ever noticed how soldiers march forward in the face of impending harm with seemingly little concern for themselves? Where are their excuses to not push forward? They are overshadowed by something much bigger than them—purpose.
To overcome our fear and the excuses that go along with it we have to find a purpose that is greater than us. This takes the attention off of ourselves and onto something worth fighting for. When we have purpose in the true sense we become secondary to its fulfillment. To truly help us, this purpose can’t be about our own advancement—it must be about the service of others.
When we become other-focused in this way our values change. When we see others as more important than ourselves that is love. Who wouldn’t die for those they love? Purpose will always eradicate the excuses that fear tries to bring us.
“Ninety-nine of the failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver
Source #3: Pride
We sometimes abdicate taking responsibility for doing things because we are concerned about how our image might be affected. This is ego rearing its ugly head. This particular source of excuses comes down to how we view ourselves and how we want others to see us.
When we face the possibility that our association with something might put us in a less-than-favorable light we often avoid it. The ego is very protective of itself. It believes it is nearly perfect and it desires to keep it that way. So it seeks to excuse itself from anything that might threaten it’s image.
Did you ever have a fear of public speaking? There are surveys that report how some people would rather die than give a speech. Doesn’t that seem a little irrational? Other than falling off the stage there just isn’t any chance that a person is going to experience real harm speaking.
What people are really “afraid” of is looking bad in the eyes of others. They are experiencing the powerfully-limiting effect of pride and make excuses to avoid challenging the ego.
To be free from the excuses that pride brings we have to eliminate the ego. This can be easier said than done. Our egos have been with us our whole lives, after all. But here is one trick that has helped me. Rather than make excuses to not do things like public speaking, try repeating this phrase to yourself: “Be Real,Not Right.”
The least that we should expect of ourselves and others is to be authentic. But to allow ourselves to get to that point we have to be willing to be less than perfect—and that is what being real is all about. You will find that life is way more fun and people will enjoy you more as well. Remember, when your pride becomes a source of your excuses make the decision to be real, not right.