Listen, we’ve all made excuses to not do the things that we know we should be doing. This is a perfectly normal thing for people to do.
After all, this bed is super comfortable, the weather outside is ugly, and there are so many better things to do than get up at the crack of dawn to go exercise – better things like sleep!
We know what we should be doing, but sometimes we just don’t want to do it. And we make excuse after excuse for ourselves to avoid doing the unpleasant work that we need to do to succeed and improve our lives.
But the reason that people make excuses to not do the work isn’t always so clear-cut.
There are some theories out there about laziness and procrastination that challenge traditional views. It’s less that people are lazy and more that there are other factors at play. Laziness, apathy, and procrastination can be harsh interpretations of feeling overwhelmed, struggling with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, or not finding enough personal reward in the work to be motivated.
Start with a simple question if you want to figure out how to stop making excuses:
Why am I making excuses in the first place?
What is it about the activity that is causing you to balk at it? Sure, work can be unpleasant and dull, but it needs to get done either way. It’s not going away.
Is it that you’re feeling unmotivated? Don’t like what you’re doing? Tired of the same monotonous grind? Not seeing the results you hoped for?
Are you struggling to just keep your life afloat? It’s hard out there for a lot of folks. Stress, depression, and anxiety are at all-time highs, definitely impacting how the people struggling with them conduct their lives. All of these things can hurt one’s energy and willingness to move forward.
Do you feel overwhelmed? Like you have too much to do? Life can come at you hard and fast. Maybe you’re a busy person, trying to keep a family going, a clean house, everyone fed, and still show up at your job on time. That’s a lot of work for any person to handle.
Perhaps it’s an opposite problem. Maybe things are just too slow, work is lacking, and you find yourself slipping into procrastination because what does it matter, anyway? There’s always plenty of time to do it later, which is a comfortable lie to believe if we have too much time on our hands.
Are you afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone? That’s okay! A little fear and anxiety are totally normal when you’re taking your first steps into the unknown. Change is often scary.
Identifying the problem’s source will make it much easier to apply these tips for fixing the problem.
1. Accept and embrace your responsibilities.
We don’t want to do plenty of things but have to do them because it’s our responsibility. The difference in perspective is how we view responsibilities.
It’s a lot harder to excuse not doing what we are supposed to do when we don’t leave ourselves with a choice.
A responsibility is something that we must do, not something we have an option not to do. This is a choice you have to make for yourself when looking at the things you don’t want to do.
Motivation becomes less important in this perspective. You may not be motivated to hit the gym after work, but you do it anyway because that’s what you do after work. You don’t have to think about it. There’s no debate about it. You just do it because it’s yours to do.
2. Reframe your perspective of failure.
Few people in this world succeed without failing at what they set out to do. So many people view failing as the end of their journey. “I didn’t succeed, so it must not be on the cards!”
But that’s not how successful people view or approach failure. Failure is a learning experience, granting you wisdom that you cannot get from a book because it’s your personal experience in your specific situation.
Failure is just a single step on a much longer path toward success.
Don’t fear it. Don’t run from it. Embrace it.
As you do your work and experience failure, it’s time to start answering some questions. Why didn’t my plan work? What parts of my plan did work? How can I adapt my plan and the work I’ve already done to accomplish my goal?
3. Approach fear with curiosity.
Curiosity is a powerful tool to keep one motivated and moving forward. It also helps to dispel the fear that comes from trying to make changes in your life.
Don’t waste your time dwelling on everything that can go wrong, and try to think about what can go right.
Both are equally valid, after all. But it’s so easy to get wrapped up in negative thought processes that we sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing it at first.
This is something that can be actively avoided by changing the way you look at fear. If it makes you afraid, personal safety notwithstanding, it’s likely something you should be doing.
Personal growth doesn’t happen in a safe little box. It happens in places of significant discomfort, where you feel out of your element.
Don’t let fear direct your life.
4. Avoid overthinking.
Overthinking has been the death knell for many a good idea. And for people with anxiety or who chronically worry, overthinking to find excuses to not do the thing can severely disrupt their lives.
It’s such a problem because people don’t tend to really overthink about how great something is going to be. No, they are usually negative thoughts about what can go wrong with the thing or the overall goal.
One way to combat overthinking is to stay focused on just doing the activity you need to complete. And when you find your mind wandering, bring it right back to the activity that you have your hands on.
By staying focused on the activity, you can keep your mind from wandering off without you. Don’t think about what can go wrong, go right, or the big picture. Just focus on what’s in front of you.
It’s the difference between “I just need to get out and complete this thirty-minute run.” and “I need to lose 40 pounds.” Focus on the run, not long-term weight loss.
This is far easier said than done and will take some time to get good at and master. It may also be impossible for people who have mental illnesses that make it hard for them to concentrate if they aren’t under control.
5. Don’t compare your progress to others.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Yes, there will be people who are far better than you. They will be better looking, more skilled, more intelligent, in better shape, making more money – better, better, better always better!
But they don’t matter. What matters is you and your progress.
Every step you take is a step closer to achieving your goals. But you’re not taking steps when you’re making excuses not to move forward.
Don’t look at other people with the intent to tear yourself down or compare your work to theirs.
What you can do is look to other people who have succeeded at what you’re trying to accomplish for inspiration. You may find inspiration or knowledge on their path that can help you along the same journey.
Don’t waste your time or your life competing with other people. You’ll always be behind someone. That’s just the way the world works.
6. Out with the old habits, in with the new.
Good habits are the foundation upon which a happy life is built. Most of life is building on small, incremental gains until you achieve the goals you are looking to achieve.
That’s really difficult to do if you’re making excuses to not do the work.
The goals you want to reach and the changes you want to make must be etched into your habits.
And that is something that is best started sooner rather than later. It’s challenging to unmake unhealthy old habits and replace them with new ones. But there is a simple way to approach this. Just start by replacing one bad habit with one new good habit. After that good habit takes hold, replace another bad habit with another good habit and repeat.
Habits don’t leave room for you to make excuses. Build on your habits.
7. Accept full responsibility for your life and happiness.
There is nothing more powerful than the radical acceptance of your responsibility for your life and happiness.
It removes the blame, the excuses, and so many of the negative behaviors that keep us from living the kind of life we want.
“But these terrible things happened to me! This other person did this to me! My partner is making me so unhappy!”
Radical acceptance for your life and happiness doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to you. It means that you accept that no one else can do the work required for you to find peace of mind and happiness in your life.
Terrible things happen to innocent people every day for no reason. All we have is a choice in how we respond to these circumstances if and when they happen.
No more excuses. Go build the life that you want to live.
You may also like:
- How To Bring Yourself To Do Something You Don’t Really Want To Do
- 5 Tips To Help You Stop Living In Fear
- How To Empower Yourself: 16 Ways To Feel Empowered
- 8 Ways To Be More Proactive In Life (+ Examples)
- 10 No Nonsense Ways To Be Consistent In Your Life
- How To Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself: 8 Highly Effective Tips
- 8 No Nonsense Ways To Take Control Of Your Life
- How To Reach Your Full Potential: 11 No Nonsense Tips!
- Discipline: The Only Bulletproof Method Of Getting Things Done