Are you making excuses instead of really living the life you want? Well if so, this article is aimed at you.
“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” — George Washington
This topic, along with my topic of last week are themes that are very close to my heart at the moment as they are areas that have been greatly exploring and employing myself. Building self-discipline is all about putting an end to excuses. Here’s an article dedicated to that subject if you wish to explore further: 7 Ways to Advance Self-Discipline.
It’s about taking responsibility for your behaviour and your life. It’s about getting the most out of your life. And, if you want to get the most out of life, you have to get up off of your backside and go after your goals. Anybody can tell you what they would like from life and, most people will tell you. However, when push comes to shove, how many people do you know who are committed to pursuing their goals and are relentless in doing so? If you are honest, you may know very few people who really fit this description. If you want to be like these people, you need to avoid making excuses and take action.
The ability to stop and then avoid making excuses and focus on the task is seriously underrated. There are many things, which can come between you and your goal, and, some of them will lie outside of your control. When these kinds of events occur, it is easy to start pointing the finger at everybody else. Honestly, there are times when it feels good to have somebody to blame. It can help you to feel better about yourself at that moment in time but when that moment passes, you see that blaming others is a waste of time and energy. In the end, constantly blaming others makes you lazy and weak. According to University of Kansas researchers Snyder, Higgins and Stucky, excuses ultimately undermine one’s accountability, which makes other people see them as deceitful, ineffectual and self-absorbed. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to accept the setbacks, identify ways to overcome them and, get back on track.
If you are not achieving the results, you want; it’s time to put an end to excuses. The following tips can help you avoid making excuses.
Learning About Yourself and Your Excuses
“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” —John Burroughs
According to research by psychologist Julian Rotter, those most likely to make excuses are particularly mistrustful of other people, have a fragile regard for their own worth and are highly sensitive to criticism. He recommends that to be aware of your excuse- making, you understand the following:
1. Understand locus of control
The first step to stopping making excuses is to examine how much you view life as being in your control. Excuses are often made to shift blame away to circumstances beyond our control. If you hear yourself saying that you cannot lose weight because your partner bakes too many cakes, you are shifting the blame to someone external and you instead need to take personal responsibility.
Internal locus of control is the extent to which you assume responsibility for your actions and believe you can control your life. Having an internal locus of control better focuses you for future success.
External locus of control protects your self-image by blaming fate or others and escaping ownership of your mistakes or failures.
2. Understand self-efficacy
Your belief in your ability to complete a task greatly influences the actual accomplishment of that task, whether it is a work, fitness, or personal goal. Self-efficacy is based on your past experiences with a task, seeing how others have experienced the same task, how people treat you related to performing that task, and your emotional cues related to the task.
If you have been successful at gaining muscle mass by lifting weights in the past, you see your friends doing the same, you hear people comment positively on your larger muscles, and you feel pride seeing yourself in the mirror, you will be more likely to again achieve an increase in muscle mass, instead of making excuses that you cannot do so.
3. Increase your sense of self-efficacy
There are many things you can do to start building up your confidence in yourself. Small changes allow you to quickly meet goals and start increasing your self-efficacy. Using the example of weight reduction, for example….
• Try making small changes to start. Instead of revamping your entire diet, start by increasing your water intake for a week, then move on to decreasing sugary treats the week after that.
• Reflect on past successes. Remembering how you have previously accomplished goals will give you the support you need to accomplish the next one.
• Visualise your success. See yourself in that smaller dress size.
• Choose a role model. If you are trying to get fit, find a friend who has recently gone through that adjustment herself and look to her for inspiration and advice.
Allow some self-doubt. Don’t expect to be perfect because setbacks and pauses will occur in your journey – setting yourself up to be perfect will only lead to disappointment. Expect to have some healthy self-doubt at times and you can easily adjust and move forward
4. Examine your own excuses
Make a list of the excuses you make, consider why you make them, and decide which ones you want to work on stopping first.
• Review the excuses you are making about your performance at work. If you find you complain about deadlines, for example, maybe you need to re-examine your workflow process.
• Consider what excuses you make about getting healthy.
• One of the most common is that you don’t have enough time to exercise. That’s why some doctors now suggest getting your exercise in ten-minute increments – that’s just a brisk walk on a coffee break!
• Think about the excuses you make about achieving your life goals.
Make a list of what you want to accomplish in life and list off why you feel you aren’t achieving these goals, then try to problem solve ways to overcome any personal obstacles you find. Remember that nothing will change until you do.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems—not people, to focus your energies on answers—not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Taking Ownership of your Goals
1. Examine your goals. In order to understand how you can better achieve your goals, you need to take a good hard look at them, determine if they are realistic and within your control and your ability, determine what scares you about them, and realise what underlying assumptions you might unconsciously have about them.
For example, if you claim you want to be more successful at work, think about what the phrase “more successful” means to you. You might be unfairly comparing yourself to your parents’ expectations or to a co-worker who has been at your workplace for more years than you have.
2. Define your goals the SMART way. Make sure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Achievable, Relevant and Realistic, and Timely. Once you set SMART goals, you are more likely to achieve them.
• Specific goals have a very focused target. Don’t just say you want to improve at work, say you want to gain 5 new clients this month. Thinking of the who, what, where, when, and why will help ensure your goal is specific.
• Measurable goals make it easier to see your progress. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, specify that you want to reduce your weight by 3 pounds this month.
• Achievable goals ensure you do not suffer defeat at the hands of unrealistic expectations. You might want to earn more money but a goal of an extra £1000 in sales might be more achievable than £10,000.
• Relevant goals make sure that you aren’t wasting time doing something that might not actually help. If you want to be a more flexible dancer, sign up for a gymnastics class instead of joining a chess class this year.
Time-bound goals give you a target date. Some people need the push of a deadline. Say you want to have 10,000 words written for your novel – by the end of the month.
3. Start taking personal responsibility by shifting to an internal locus of control.
• Taking responsibility also means owning up to mistakes without making excuses for them.
• Everyone makes mistakes, but being honest and accountable makes both learning from mistakes and getting over mistakes easier.
Remind yourself that you have the power to influence your situation and environment. You can change if you make the choice to do so.
4. Become a high self-monitor.
Self-monitoring is the ability to assess yourself in order to more easily adjust to a situation. Being able to accurately assess your skills, style, and goals in a particular situation affords you the ability to better adapt, and successful adaptation leads to success in goal achievement
If you can monitor and adapt your communication style to work depending on who you talk to, for example, you may become better friends with your co-workers and a better leader when working with multiple employees in different roles.
“We have more ability than willpower, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.” ― François de la Rochefoucauld
1. Develop your problem-solving abilities.
Write out what is bothering you, brainstorm how many different ways you can approach the problem, assess the pros and cons of each approach, implement an approach, and evaluate the outcome.
Writing out your problems then brainstorming solutions, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, is a sound way of taking steps to solve those problems.
Here is a great article to help you with this; Apply Problem Solving to Yourself and Solve Your Problems.
2. Be resourceful.
Resourcefulness is one of the key factors to overcoming any challenge.
Being resourceful includes asking for help so don’t be afraid to turn to your family, friends, or colleagues for assistance.
Whether it be how many sales you close at work or how often you cook dinner at home instead of ordering take-aways, tracking and evaluating your activities is the best way to witness progress, see what’s working, and fix what’s not helpful. Once you can track and accomplish your goals, you can self-evaluate.
Be your own critic. Be objective and realistic when you self-evaluate, and remember, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
4. Revise your language. If you find yourself engaging in self-doubt, telling yourself you “can’t do it” or “if only…”, you are buying into an external locus of control and may feel stuck in your present situation. Instead, tell yourself, “I think I can.”
• Repeat positive mantras such as “I can do this” or “I’m getting better at this.”
• Examine your “if only” statements and reward them positively. For example, “if only I had more time” can change to “I can find 10 minutes a day to do yoga.” Believing in yourself is half the battle.
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” ― Henry Ward Beecher
Almost nothing worthwhile in life comes without a fight or challenge of some sort. Challenges are an essential part of life, which should be embraced, engaged with and overcome as they allow you to grow as a person. Whether you like it or not, you will face challenges along the way so, you might as well avoid making excuses and get on with the job of overcoming them.
Excuses won’t get you anywhere at all. Instead, they are a terrible distraction, which takes your focus off of your most important tasks and, reduces your confidence and self-belief. So, avoid making excuses and face your challenges head on. You will be more empowered, more confident and more successful.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
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Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
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Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book, it’ll help you live with integrity!