What was the last excuse you made? And I’m not talking here about the time you claimed it was only a virulent and very rare form of food poisoning that was stopping you helping at the coffee morning “and you REALLY wished you could be there”. I’m more interested in excuses that go along the lines of: “I won’t go to the gym tonight because….” while persuading yourself that some pressing task really does need your urgent attention first.
Because when it comes to making excuses to ourselves it’s oh-so easy to sound convincing. The coffee morning organiser may be tut-tutting over your ability to lie so glibly, but your conscience has a streak of gullibility that would make the youngest of toddlers seem streetwise.
Of course you don’t have time/money/energy to go shopping and it’ll be OK to have pizza and chips again for tea, it’s simply not safe to go out running alone after 6pm, you can’t give yourself a pedicure tonight because your daughter has oboe practice, there’s no point starting to write a novel until you’ve got a new laptop, you’ll be home too late to start the decorating and at the weekend you’ll be busy cleaning….
The list of excuses we’ll use to stop ourselves doing the things that are – deep down – important to us is endless. But next time you start to assure yourself that you simply can’t do so and so ‘because’, pause and ask what’s really stopping you? Dig deep. If what you get is confirmation that you’re just being lazy, then get a grip and kick yourself into gear. If, on the other hand, you’re finding excuses to stop yourself making changes like: having a fit and healthy body, writing a book, going after a new job, starting a business, then it’s time to sit down and find out what’s really holding you back.
- If you have a decision to make about a major change in your life, like moving house, ending a relationship, changing careers or starting a business it can be terrifying contemplating life without the constant you are used to. Try getting a clear picture of how you want your life to look after you’ve made the change and try it on for size. Get used to thinking about your life in this way. Get your thoughts down on paper about the details. For example, if you’re looking for a career change, hammer out what the ‘must haves’ are for you and what you can be flexible on. Try using words like: ‘will, shall, am going to’, rather than ‘hope to, could, maybe’ around the new situation.
- Are you avoiding tackling a weight or fitness issue? It’s easy to put our lives on hold ‘until we’ve lost some weight’ and conversely this can hold us back from losing weight, because as we know, change can be scary. Try making your weight loss and fitness goals about the activity you do rather than announcing you’re ‘going to lose two stone by the end of the month’. If you have a long way to go it can be hard to sustain a strict diet or heavy exercise regime, so identify areas where you can consume less and move more that won’t send you screaming for the biscuit tin or inventing injuries after three weeks! Try setting short-term challenges so you don’t get bored.
- If you’re making excuses because you have a big project to do and don’t know quite where to start, make a detailed action plan. Break your plan down into TSTs (tiny specific tasks) that are easy to achieve. You can include research in your plan which may help you get started and understand more about what you need to do. So if you’ve been putting off starting the novel because you haven’t the first idea about how to write a book, check out the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book for tips or follow other aspiring authors on Twitter for example.
- If you’ve stalled in excuse-land because you can’t find the oomph to move forward with something, it’s time to take a long, close look at whether you actually want to do it at all. So set aside some time to work through your thoughts and do it or ditch it!