Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people’s excuses
– Christian Friedrich Hebbel
As a life coach whose task is to help people reach their full potential and live the life they want, I hear endless excuses about why people are not living the life they want already. One day, I said to myself that I would make a list of those excuses and then I realized it was not such a bad idea. If I had a list of my excuses, I could easily recognize when I was anchoring myself or dragging myself backwards.
Excuses are stories we tell ourselves to justify why we do not live the life we want
– Ronit Baras
The excuse zone
Excuses are things we say to ourselves that keep us stagnant. Excuses and success cannot live together, because excuses are what prevents us from moving forward. Every time we tell a reason for not doing, achieving or trying something we want, it is as if we were trying to get to a faraway destination by running on a treadmill.
No one ever excused his way to success
– Dave Del Dotto
It is no coincidence people who do not live the life they want have tons of excuses and successful people do not. Excusing is a habit. George Washington said “99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses”. If you feel like a failure in any area of your life, find your excuses.
Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure
– Don wilder
Excuses are there as a defense mechanism when people think they cannot live with the consequences of not achieving what they want. They are saying, “I’m not a failure. There are reasons for me not achieving”. You know what? I am sure there are reasons, but if we hang on to them, we will definitely not move forward.
Reasons and excuses are brothers. We use reasons to explain ourselves and excuses when we have a feeling that we could have taken more responsibility. Therefore, responsibility is the answer.
Don’t do what you’ll have to find an excuse for
In my workshops, I always tell how I was kicked out of school in 10th Grade for having too many failures on my report card. When participants ask me why, I say, “There were many objective reasons, but they are bad excuses, so I prefer not to dwell on them. Whatever the objective reasons, we still have the choice to respond differently”.
Blaming others is one very common excuse for not living the life we want. How many people do you know who say “My mom and dad…” at the beginning of an explanation for the problems they have in life. I know too many, unfortunately. When they bring up excuses from the past, they are living in the past.
The way to get out of the “excuse zone” is to take responsibility (I was going to write “to not get in there in the first place”, but as people grow older and the burden of life is heavier, they tend to use more and more excuses to survive emotionally).
Responsibility happens when you understand that the outcome was always in your hands, that you are responsible for all your thoughts and behaviors.
I always say, “Excuses are anchors we throw from our ship sailing in the sea of life. No ship can sail with many anchors buried in the sand. If you use too many excuses, no wonder you feel stuck”.
Instead of saying, “Sorry I am late, my alarm clock didn’t go off”, you can recognize your responsibility and say, “I didn’t make sure the alarm clock was set”.
Instead of saying, “I’m not wealthy because I did not win the lottery”, own up to your actions and say, “I’m not wealthy because I don’t do all I can to be wealthy”.
Instead of saying, “I’m upset because my kids made me angry”, accept your emotions and say, “I’m upset because I interpreted what my kids did as if they were inconsiderate”.
Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing
– Steven Grayhm
How to list your excuses (and get rid of them)
- Think about it as a funny thing. The funnier you make it, the easier it will be to see how ridiculous it is to hold on to each excuse. When I was in my military service, one common excuse for needing leave of getting any type of concession was “My grandmother has died”. That worked really well until you have “killed off” your 3rd grandmother…
- Make a list of all the things you are unhappy about and ask yourself, “Why am I getting this?” and watch all your anchors that are buried in the sand. “I don’t find the woman of my dream because I’m not <fill in the blank> enough”. My mom says “Every pot has a lid”, so there is always a woman somewhere that will find you “<fill in the blank> enough” for her.
- Make a list of all the things you want to be, do or have and ask again, “Why am I not getting what I want?” “I want to have more time with kids, but I can’t find the time”. People do not find time, they make it by changing priorities and being more effective.
- For every excuse, find a contradiction. For example, “I don’t have time!” All people in the world, young and old, rich and poor, stupid and smart, those who fail and those who succeed have the same 24 hours every day. They just use them differently. Contradictions loosen the anchor and help bring it up out of the sand for smoother and easier sailing.
- Make a list of all the things you blame other people for you not achieving, feeling or doing. Blaming is a big anchor that is harder to get rid of. Many parents use their kids to explain why they do not go out as a couple (“Who will watch the kids?”), why they do not go to restaurants (“The kids will make a mess”) or why they lose their temper (“Teenagers!”). In fact, there are many people who will watch your kids, many family restaurants where kids have lots of fun and many misunderstandings that are not caused by the age of your kids.
Pessimism is an excuse for not trying and a guarantee to a personal failure
– Bill Clinton
I would like to encourage you to share some of your funny excuses below to help others. If you know anyone who could benefit from making this list, be a good friend and send them this post.
Join me again next week to make the list of 100 quotes to live my life by.
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies
- Make a List: Things to be Grateful for