"I'd love to, but...", "I'm too busy to do....", or "I don't know how to...." Have you used these lines once or twice before?
We are all guilty of doing this. Sometimes we find ourselves incapable of moving forward with plans for our business, career, or personal life because we find innumerable excuses why we can't. Other times, we just don't follow those plans.
Making excuses starts at an early age and we become ever more adept at excuse-making as we grow up. Not only do we make excuses to others, but also to ourselves.
There are a variety of reasons why we make excuses. We may be afraid, psychologically drained from past negative experiences, too busy doing low impact things, or we just don't perceive ourselves as prepared to take action. While these reasons may be entirely valid, the trick is knowing when and how to say "yes" or "no" to activities that would consume your time.
Here are three tips to help you to stop making excuses:
1. Organize your priorities.
What are the most important things in your life right now? Could it be increasing your income? Furthering your knowledge in a specific area? Improving the quality of your relationships?
Oftentimes, excuse-making results from conflicting priorities. When you don't properly organize your decisions, you will spend your time doing time-consuming things that neither rank as "high-priority" nor "high-impact." In fact, it is in those times when you're not intentionally focused on your priorities that you are likely to be pulled into advancing the goals of someone else, such as your boss, family, or friends.
If you consistently have to decide between advancing someone else's goal or your own, you need to take a look at your priorities. Which ranks higher? When you set priorities, you will clear up excuse-making and you will limit your decision-making to what is really important which will propel your life vision to reality!
2. Set small achievable goals.
Setting big goals may seem so overpowering that you may not know where to begin. Maybe you have already begun working towards a big goal and because you find that you are not getting anywhere, you start making excuses and give up.
Instead, break down your big goals into many smaller, manageable and attainable goals. By doing this, you will be able to see the progress you are making. Every time you accomplish one of these smaller goals, you will be more encouraged to continue on towards your ultimate goal. I believe you have already heard this before but have not made it a permanent lifestyle! Am I right?
3. Increase your sense of self-efficacy.
When you are faced with a task, do you feel like you can handle it or do you come up with several excuses to avoid it? Perhaps you tend to doubt your own abilities to overcome the challenges that life throws your way. Having "self-efficacy" means having confidence in your own skills to handle different situations. This plays an essential role in believing in yourself and whether or not you can achieve the results you want in life.
Look closely at the excuses that are currently deterring you from taking action. It is critical that you understand the main cause of excuse-making so that you can move from the "excuse" phase to the "action" phase. In life, you either have excuses, or you have results. Consider which you would prefer and what is holding you back today.
My challenge for you this week:
Engage in a transparent self-efficacy checkup.
Write down your two priority goals.
On a scale of 1 to 5 how confident are you of your ability to achieve your goals? (1=not very confident; 5=very confident)
Write down any excuses you are using that are preventing you from taking action toward your goals.
For each excuse, write down your plan to defeat that behavior.
Each day, intentionally implement your excuse-defeating plan.