“Ninety nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
George Washington Carver
Pretty straight talk from the slave turned inventor. Did you know he came up with over 100 uses for the peanut? Pretty amazing stuff.
“No excuses.” How many times do people post memes or wear shirts with that on it. There are posters in gyms, tattoos on forearms and plenty of people talking big about how we should not make any excuses for doing what we need to do. We beat our chests and shout our war cry, “No Excuses.”
Then, we make one.
“I was just so busy this week, I didn’t have time.”
“Dave was supposed to get me that report and never did, so I didn’t get it done.”
“When I lose 10 pounds I’ll quit smoking.”
We All Have Habits
Smoking…bad. Eating healthy…good. All of us have good and bad habits. A habit is really just a a conditioned behavior we develop. There’s usually a ‘trigger’ that flips the on or off switch of that behavior. For example, some people are conditioned to run to the booze in times of stress. Others, have conditioned themselves to get time away to think, pray or exercise. Our habits are developed little by little over time and become second nature.
The Habit of Excuse Making
Everyone has plans. We all have a future ‘someday’ that we’d like to achieve. Sadly, most of us don’t reach that ‘someday’ and the #1 culprit is our own excuses. Falling short of our goals is rarely the fault of the economy, the weather or other external factors.
Achieving that ‘someday’ will most likely take incredible focus, grit and an overall committment to find a way to get there.
Becoming the person you want to be is going to be hard work. People are water…generally looking to take the path of least resistance. We promise to get our life together, start with enthusiasm until a challenge comes along. Many of us cave in and fail to follow through on the action we know we should follow in order to move closer to what we really want and out comes an excuse.
Why We Make Excuses
If you read some Psychology articles you’ll see a bunch of stuff on excuses and where they come from. The only thing you need to know about where they originate is this: Self-Preservation.
You were supposed to get a project done and you didn’t. Immediately, if you’re like 90% of humans you will automatically feel the pressure of falling short. There are a bunch of emotional things happening here that cause us to jump into “I need to cover my ass” mode and so we make up an excuse.
Excuses are Toxic Habits
It easy to make an excuse for our excuses and say, “Well, everyone makes excuses so it’s not that big of a deal.” Excuses are toxic to our growth. Would you want someone to pee in your drinking water? Of course not. Each time we make an excuse we are “peeing in the drinking water.”
Our minds will believe what we tell it. Feed it enough excuses and it will be contaminated and take a massive effort to clean it up. Make a commitment to keep your mind clean of the toxic stuff and you’ll live a stronger life.
3 Tips to Kick the Excuses Habit
Here are a few ways you can develop winning habits.
1. Stop Protecting Yourself
No more letting yourself off the hook. When you don’t do what needs to be done just own it. When asked why it didn’t get done just say, “No excuse. I dropped the ball…failed to follow up…whatever the truth is.”
2. Change Your Identity
I wrote here about what this means so I won’t go into much detail. The basic idea is if you want to really change your behavior you need to change what you think about yourself. Set goals that are identity-based.
3. Get Coached
Ask a friend. Hire someone. Just get help. Tell them you want to be called out when you make an excuse. Give them the green light to get in your face about it. Just like a good football coach will expose your crappy technique or failed assignment, an accountability coach will help you improve.
I’m Not a Gambling Man, But…
If I had to lay money down on why you haven’t reached the majority of your goals my bet would be on your excuses. If you want something you will get it. If it really means that much, you will find a way and ditch the excuses.
Need more customers? Find a way.
Want to get healthy? Find a way.
Desperately need to increase income, find a job or pass a class? Find a way.