Acknowledging my roster of excuses has become quite a revelation. When I approach any task or goal, I know to expect a buffet of the following thoughts to pop up:
I’m too tired
I’ll do it later
I don’t feel like it
I’m not ready
It’s too hard
Sound familiar? These excuses open the gateway to an easy exit. Taking that exit slows progress, or derails it altogether. And falling for the charms of excuses is very enticing. I get it. Of course it’s easier to not do the thing, but we all know where that gets you.
The bad news: The lure of excuses is unavoidable.
The good news: It is highly conquerable.
At a certain point of frustration, I asked myself – where does that inner voice spouting excuses come from? The one that nudges me to give up, rather than persist through the challenging sludge of commitment, energy, and struggle. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, that unwelcome voice, inviting me to just relax… Which would ultimately hold me back from accomplishing what I am fully capable of, if I took the bait.
Sadly, this spokesperson for laziness seems to be a permanent tenant in my head. I think we all host some version of this beast, but therein lies the answer – you’re probably pretty well acquainted with it at this point. You know how it’ll sound, and the defense it’ll throw at you. But guess what?
You’re smarter than that voice.
I decided to approach my relationship with this voice in a new way, with the intention of owning it, instead of the other way around.
As a precursor to embarking on any goal or task, I now remind myself:
There will be excuses. Expect them to swarm at any moment.
Just that simple pause to acknowledge what the terrain in my brain will look like prepares me to push beyond those pesky speed bumps, instead of turning around or veering off the path entirely.
When I find myself trying to muster the drive to finish that pile of dishes, or go for a run, or write another 5 pages, it’s much harder to let my excuses win if I know they’re right around the corner. I can’t play dumb around their temptations.
Accepting an excuse would be like pretending to be genuinely shocked by a surprise party I threw for myself. Or like seeing a behind the scenes look at a haunted house, and then pretending to be scared once inside.
I see you, excuses, and I refuse to give you validity.
Hm. But doesn’t that require willpower and motivation?
I’m glad you asked.
I am a fairly new believer in the idea that Motivation Isn’t Real (dive into that link, you won’t regret it). That revelation deserves a post of it’s own, but is intrinsically linked to excuses.
There is no “Motivational Fairy” hovering around, seemingly dropping incentive dust on your shoulder at random. The concept of motivation boils down to choice. You either do something or you don’t. The same goes for willpower. Choose your own adventure, no fairy dust necessary.
Sorry to burst that bubble – I used to believe in motivation too. Some days felt framed by the sparkling “magic” of motivation, but many were void of it entirely. If only I could capture some of that elusive motivational dust to make the magic return!
But what an awakening – to realize that I churn the wheels of motivation through choice. And I can steer away from excuses by being prepared for their arrival. It’s like pulling back the curtain on Oz, in a way.
Nothing but smoke and mirrors surrounding these intangible myths that hold us back.
These revelations can be intimidating – it’s all up to you, no pressure! – but I try to view them as empowering. Own that excuse-fueled voice in your head and don’t be swindled by its hijinks.
When I don’t feel like it, or I’ll do that tomorrow emerges in my headspace, I now retort:
Hey there, excuses, I’ve been expecting you.
Thanks for showing up and trying to be a buzzkill at my productive party,
but allow me to show you the door. I’ve got shit to do.
Sorry not sorry. #micdrop
I know, I know. It’s silly, ridiculous, whatever you want to call it… but it works.
Hashing out this approach to excuses was especially important to me, given that it’s Day 2 of my new challenge. Excuses be damned! And I hope it helps you conquer those pesky voices in your head that try to bump you off track too.
Here’s to your first weekend of Fall 2016 being a great one,
free of excuses!