Do you constantly tell yourself that you’re going to take steps to accomplish your goals, only to find that you always find a way to procrastinate, delay progress or shift your focus? You’re not alone! It’s common to As with any unhealthy habit, admitting to stop making excuses is a vital step in personal development. You might find it helpful to list the five main excuses in order to avoid facing challenges, but doing so holds you back from reaching your full potential. Here is some advice that will help you train yourself to break this destructive habit.
1. Differentiate real goals from apparent ones
When you find yourself avoiding something, it’s useful to give some serious thought to whether you truly want to do that thing. For example, it might be that you just think you should travel overseas because you’re the odd one out in your peer group, but that when you reflect on doing it you can see that your heart isn’t in it and you merely want to want to do it. Set aside the goals that aren’t really yours.
2. Take a critical look at your priorities
Write down all of the things that matter most, such as career advancement, romance, health, spending time with family, fitness, hobbies, and so on. Next, rank these according to their importance and think about whether you really act in accordance with your priorities. Consider how you might better organize your time to reflect your values. For example, if you’re ranking time with family at the top but spend extra time at the workplace every night, there’s room to shuffle your commitments.
3. Acknowledge your excuses
As with any unhealthy habit, admitting to stop making excuses is a vital step in personal development. You might find it helpful to list the five main excuses you think you make (such as “I don’t have enough time” and “I’ll do that next week”) or the five main things you think you subconsciously work to avoid (such as starting a fitness routine, trying to write a novel, or applying for a new job).
4. Ask yourself what your excuses are achieving
Making excuses tends to be associated with defense mechanisms that protect you against experiencing failure or leaving your comfort zone. What are you hiding from when you make excuses? When you claim you want to change careers but never get past looking up lists of appropriate courses, you might be avoiding the fear associated with knowing you might not make it in a new field. Similarly, you might stop making excuses to avoid dating because it’s easier to wallow in the pain of the past and claim you “can’t” find love. When you explore the fears behind your excuses, you may see new ways to overcome these blocks. Just engaging with feelings of anxiety instead of obscuring them with self-deception is a huge step forward. Daring to ask “what’s the worst that could happen?” often reveals surprisingly reassuring results.
5. Cut out time-wasting activities
If you’re claiming that you really don’t have the resources to tackle your goals, perform an inventory of your daily routine and see where you could cut out time-wasting pursuits (like watching two hours of reality television). While it’s important to leave time to chill out, it’s healthy to cut out the things that merely numb or bore you, facilitating laziness rather than relaxation.
6. Break your goals down
If a goal like “move house” or “change jobs” inspires excuse-making because it’s so vast and life-changing that it looks unattainable, try breaking the goal down into smaller parts. “Change jobs” then becomes a set of goals including things like revitalizing your CV, reconnecting with people from the relevant industry, browsing job adverts twice a week, and practicing interview skills. Check these tasks off your “to-do” list as you go, providing tangible evidence of your progress.
7. Take responsibility
There is much to recommend regularly writing in a journal, as it as an excellent way to promote greater self-knowledge. As you chronicle your days, write openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings, noticing where and when you have made excuses to avoid engaging with things that evoke some kind of anxiety. Try to avoid the temptation to say that someone else should have reminded you to do something, or that someone else’s interventions have stopped you from accomplishing your goals. Your well-being, happiness, and success are up to you, and taking ownership of your responsibility is an empowering change that helps you to stop making excuses.
8. Make a conscious effort to stop putting things off
Finally, it’s easy and comforting to tell yourself that you will start pursuing your goals next week or next month. However, if you’ve spent the last six months claiming that tomorrow will be the day you get a gym membership or join a dating site, it’s time to take a deep breath and just act. Don’t overthink it—just make today the day that you start working to achieve the things you want!