Starting now: no shortcuts. NO quick fixes. Nobody blames others. NO "I'll do it tomorrow." NO MORE EXCUSES!
The mind is a wonderful thing. It is also an excuse machine that often tries to convince us not to take action that we know is good for us. And this prevents many positive changes in our lives.
I've had to learn to see these excuses very carefully to make the positive changes I've made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, more sleep, daily writing, better planning, less procrastination , more focus, etc.
If I had not learned about these excuses and how to suppress them, I would never have succeeded in making these positive changes. Until I knew better, I had failed countless times when I was young because the deceptive tendencies of my mind used to get the best of me.
So why does the mind work with us and make irrational excuses?
Since the mind wants comfort, that is why. It is afraid of discomfort, pressure and change. The mind is busy in its comfort zone, and when we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long the mind desperately tries to get back to the ground at all costs – including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness and success.
So let's reveal 10 of the cowardly excuses of the cowardly mind once and for all …
Assurance # 1: I can't do that.
It seems too difficult at first, so you think you can't stick to the positive change you make. You don't believe in yourself enough to take another step. This is a common excuse that can be countered by looking at the fact that other people are not more capable than you have been.
For example, my 60-year-old neighbor ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and then I said to myself, "If she can do it, so can I!" And I was right. Truth be told, the only person who can tell you "I can't" is you. If you hear the words echoing in the back of your mind, tune them in. Understand that your doubts and your beliefs have something in common – they both ask you to believe in something you cannot see. You simply have to decide who you want to believe.
Insurance # 2: They can do it, but it doesn't apply to me because they have it better than me.
Just because someone else can, it doesn't mean you can't, right? You are looking for reasons why they can do it but you cannot – maybe he is an internet entrepreneur or freelance writer because he has no children. Maybe she is a lot more fitter than I am, so she can run a marathon. Maybe she doesn't have all the work and family obligations I have, or has a supportive husband or doesn't have bad knees. OK, well, it's easy to find excuses: but look at all the other people who also have significant obstacles and have done it anyway.
Marc and I have a family, and have dealt with significant losses in our lives, and still managed to succeed on many fronts. And just as we have turned things around for ourselves, we know hundreds of other people who have done the same. Through a decade of life coaching, we have witnessed people reinventing themselves at all ages – 48-year-olds starting families, 57-year-olds graduating from college for the first time, 71-year-olds starting successful businesses, and so on. And stories abound of people with disabilities or illnesses who have overcome their barriers to achieving great things. Your obstacles can be overcome.
Assurance # 3: I am stuck because I do not have enough time to make changes.
Have you ever met a happy, successful person who regularly avoids responsibility, flushes and points fingers and apologizes for their unsatisfactory lives? Neither do I. The truth is that you write your own destiny through the choices you make every day. You become what you do repeatedly. It is more important to know where you are going and why than to get there quickly. In fact, the most important thing in life is knowing what the most important things in life are and prioritizing them accordingly.
Most of us spend too much time on urgent things and not enough time on important things. So do yourself a favor and perform these three action steps each time you build or sort your to-do list:
- Think about the difference between what is urgent and what is important.
- Review all obligations on your list.
- Do what's important first. (Read THE ONE Thing.)
Assurance # 4: It will be too difficult because I cannot do it without _____.
Fill in blank: I need my wine, my cheese, my sweets, my TV show, my ten hours of sleep, my big house, my nice wardrobe, etc. This is a luxury that we convince ourselves that we do not can live without, so we can justify not making positive changes such as eating healthier or exercising daily or saving money or simplifying our lives or building a profitable side movement. And as I said, I'm not immune either – in the past I've made these excuses myself, but they all turned out to be lies. I didn't need any of these things in my life, and to think that I did only got in the way of the positive changes I could create for myself.
Insurance # 5: Life is supposed to be easier and enjoyed more.
Sure, I agree that life should be enjoyed (as most would do), but the problem is that the idea that life should ALWAYS be easy and fun is used to motivate all sorts of lazy behaviors. Can also sit on the couch and scarf down the cookies, because hey, life is supposed to be enjoyed, right? No. You can do without junk food and still enjoy life. You can exercise and enjoy it. You can give up a lot of comfort in your life and not lose anything. In fact, the road with least resistance is often the way to least reward.
You have to do difficult things. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. As Einstein once said: "Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work." You have to run to be a runner. You have to write to be a writer. You must actively work at a business enterprise to learn how to run a successful business. There is no compensation for doing the work. So meditate on this every day: “I will do the work. It won't be easy. It will be worth it! ”
Rule 6: I deserve a reward (or a break).
We all deserve a tasty treat or a free day. I am not saying that you should not give yourself a reward or break when one is earned. But if you make this rationalization a primary rule of living, you will always have a break. You will always give yourself rewards and never follow the original plan. This is what I do instead: I see sticking to my plan as the reward in itself. I see that I reach my goals as a gift I give myself. Going for a run is not what I have to go through to get a reward – the run is the reward.
Insurance # 7: I can do it later.
Sure, you can always do it later … but your later I will feel the exact same way. Think about it: Why should your later self be more disciplined than your current self? There is no reason. In fact, since you let yourself relax now, you build a habit of procrastination and actually make it less likely that your later self will be more disciplined.
So today, stop making excuses for why you can't get it and start focusing on all the reasons why you have to do it. Stop talking about what you've done or what to do. Just do it and let your actions speak for themselves. Most amazing things in life do not happen by chance, they happen by choice. You never know what is possible until you run the risk of finding out. In the long run, there is only one thing that makes your dreams and goals completely impossible to achieve: your lack of action today. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the "Productivity" chapter in 1,000 Small Things That Happy, Successful People Do Different.)
Insurance 8: Once Will Not Hurt.
This lie is so tempting, because it is something true: once will not hurt. Assuming, of course, that it really is only once. A spoonful of ice cream, a missed workout, once to postpone instead of working, etc. Unfortunately, it's never just once. One time means that your brain now knows that it can get away with this excuse next time, and the next "once" leads to another until you have completely fallen out of the wagon.
Make a pact with yourself: never believe! "once" lie. If you are going to allow yourself a spoonful of ice cream, decide this in advance and build it into your plan – "I allow myself a single serving of candy once every weekend" and stick to your plan, rather than decide to fly when your conscience is weak.
Assurance # 9: I have already failed too much.
You're only human. If you break down, that's fine. Don't stay down. Rest, and then pick you up so you can go where you would rather be. Mistakes make us smarter. Failures help us grow. The hope keeps us going. And love is the reason why we live. Continue to learn, love and live.
As Winston Churchill once said: "Success is never definitive, failure is never fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. “Nothing could be closer to the truth. Persistence is the mother of all productive endeavors. Shortcomings, small and large, happen to the best of us every day. The strongest, most productive people are not the people who always succeed, but the ones who do not give up when they lose.
At that hot moment when you feel like quitting, think about how far you've come and why you started in the first place. Often you are much closer to a breakthrough than you think. Some people give up their efforts when they have almost reached their goal, while others conquer their goals by exercising until the last possible second more powerful efforts than ever before.
Summary: When you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. Make some necessary adjustments, and KEEP GOING! (Read the principles of success.)
Insurance # 10: It's too late now.
Change is constant, but growth is optional. Stay firm or learn and grow. Where you end up depends on your daily attitude and response. And it's never too late to change your attitude to something you can't change. Decide just to make the best of it. No excuses. No regrets.
Honestly, nothing is too late until your tired heart stops beating. If you're reading this right now, congratulations, you're alive, which means it's not too late for you. Things can change if you want them to be of any age. Right now you can choose different and have something new happen. Your future is immediate. Grasp it with both hands and continue. When you come up on a roadblock and face the choice of sitting down and doing nothing or doing something to make further progress, choose it later.
Think, work and climb if you must.
Move your life forward.
( Note: Marc and I take a deep dive into all of the above points with our students in Getting Back to Happy Course & Coaching.)
Your turn …  What types of excuses sometimes reflect in the back of your mind? What is such an excuse that has held you back?
Please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
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