Journey of Life

the place formerly known as control your destiny

Excuses

I am a master of excuses and equally talented at procrastination…

I have absolutely no idea where my expertise at excuses has originated from. I know that to become a master of something, one has to practice the art on a regular basis and over time it becomes second nature. I have had my fair share of practice on this front and I can pretty much rattle off any believable excuse whatever the situation.

In the work arena, I have used it on a regular basis (and still do) as a way of justifying to myself and others the reasons for my action or inaction (as is often the case). Similarly, the excuses also became a way of justifying giving up on my dreams but for what purpose? Yes, I would feel a little better having told myself that it’s ok to give up, but not for long.

Most of these excuses seemed to focus around a lack of something. Lack of money, lack of time, lack of resources, lack of knowledge but the truth is, even if I’d had all of those I would still have given up at the first hurdle and I think this was partly because I wanted to reach that particular goal as soon as I had thought about it, but was never really prepared put in a lot of effort towards getting there. More importantly, the chances are that the goal itself wasn’t really that important after all. Making up an excuse always seemed easier than accepting that the reason I never saw any results was because I was too lazy to put in the effort to actually really be clear about the goal itself and why I wanted it as well as putting in the effort of working towards it.

At the moment I have a very specific goal in mind. A goal I really want to work towards and even as I am writing this there are voices in my head presenting me with a whole arsenal of reasons why it will never work and why I shouldn’t waste my time doing it.

I am getting a little tired of being good at justifying failure and would prefer to master the art of something constructive and useful instead. I have no problem with failure itself. I have failed my whole life but with each failure a lesson was presented to me some of which I have now learned and some of which I am sure I will be presented with again. Also, my greatest successes (however you choose to define success) have risen out of failure. Failure is a part of human nature, so I might as well get used to it and give it my best.

So how does one stop making excuses?

I have searched extensively for a step by step guide to help me stop my habitual excuse making behaviour and there’s plenty on offer. Some of them I found very useful and some not so useful, but I also came to realise that what works for one person may not work for another. I have often made the mistake of following one specific set of instructions religiously with results so extremely different from the results claimed by the creator of the instructions.
I could be described as someone often having to learn the hard way, but from a positive viewpoint, I do remember the lessons!!

Will I be able to change the habit of making excuses? I hope so but, as with all change, it will take time and effort and won’t happen overnight.

When I manage to catch myself at the point of procrastination on a particular task, I take a step back and quietly tell myself the following: “What will make you feel better about yourself? Not doing this and having to come up with an excuse to back this up or go ahead and give it your best, despite the result?”

It doesn’t always work but for the moment it’s what works best for me.

All I can do is try my best to stay patient, take small steps towards what I want and see setbacks for what they are. Then again, this could all change by tomorrow where I may be back with a whole range of excuses. If I do, feel free to challenge me on this and remind me of this post. Sometimes I do need a kick up the proverbial backside and I struggle to reach myself!!!

“How strange to use ‘You only live once’ as an excuse to throw it away.” ~ Bill Copeland

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11 responses to “Excuses

  1. vanessaleighsblog April 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Do you know what I see in this post? Well, I am surely going to tell you…….

    You are asking to be accountable to this habit, because you are ready. You are calling it out, publicly, loud and proud, because you are sick and darned tired of it. It has worn out its welcome and you are starting to kick it to the curb.

    However, it will not easily be released, because it believes that it controls you, and until you definitively let it know that YOU control IT, it will fight like hell to hang on.

    One tip I would give you, that just might work?

    Make a promise to yourself. Start with one that isn’t so easy you will do it in two seconds, but easy enough to manage that you stand a chance to be successful. Then, keep that promise, related to not using an excuse, not putting something off, etc.

    Then, create a consequence, that you can say to another person, that will hold you accountable to it. So, if you procrastinate, for example, after you promise not to, you have to do something you REALLY don’t want to do, OR you have to miss out on something that you REALLY like. A good consequence for me is always losing out on my wine, or my coffee in the morning.

    Maybe that will kick a new, happier and healthier habit into gear.

    Let me know how you do, but you are SOOOOOOO ready!

    • J April 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      Writing about it was a way for me to see it in a different light. A way for me to understand how my mind plays tricks on me at times.

      One thing I have come to understand (with some invaluable help) since writing this post is the fact that being held accountable by other people will more often than not have the opposite effect. I don’t like being told what to do and my automatic response when it happens is to rebel.

      The consequence technique will work for a lot of people but have never worked for me. I have experienced consequence management at work on a regular basis for the past 9 years and have somewhat become immune to the threats often imposed on me. In that time I have also proved (much to the frustration of some of these consequence managers) that when I am left to do my job I do it well. That said, having become more aware of the situations in which I’d normally make excuses has helped me make better choices and you are right…I am ready!!

      hugs

  2. viv66 April 2, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I expect you know that there exists a book called The Procrastinator’s Guide to Life… but I haven’t got round to getting it yet.
    Joking aside, this is such a ruthlessly honest post and you have done well to get this far. Not many do.
    One question: do you postpone or procrastinate on the pleasant things in life as well as the harder ones? I meant to ask you this the last time we talked about it.
    When I was 9, I had a birthday party and one of the presents friends gave me where various jokes including a fake chocolate biscuit. Said biscuit ended up on a plate of party goodies saved for my dad when he came home from work; I watched with baited breath as he ate each item carefully. he left the fake biscuit…I was sure he’d tumbled me. But no. The very last item on the plate was the biscuit. My dad picked it up, bit and then looked horribly puzzled before starting to laugh. It turns out he’d saved it for last because it was the goodie he liked the most(or the real version of it was anyway). Do you try to save the best for last or till later? It’s an important question…

    • J April 9, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      This made me laugh and also took me on a trip down memory lane..

      When I first started school I remember always saving the favourite part of my lunch till last and I often still save the best for last, with some exceptions..

  3. shiona April 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I’m so painfully aware of what you mean that it is very hard for me to comment. Somehow it doesn’t feel right that someone who can’t handle their own issues should tell others what to do…
    The only thing I can say is that I understand. And like Vanessa, I believe you are ready to challenge this problem.
    Good luck!!!

    • J April 9, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      “Somehow it doesn’t feel right that someone who can’t handle their own issues should tell others what to do…”

      Your comments, emails and most of all your understanding helps more than I can ever fully express in words..

      • shiona April 10, 2010 at 7:25 am

        I’ve been thinking about this too and I came to realize that in my case procrastinating things that I want to do and I regards as important is often caused by lack of self-confidence or, in other words, fear of failure. Or fear of disappointment. This is a very powerful factor and it acts on the non-conscious level, hence it is very difficult to overcome.
        XXX

  4. enreal April 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    J~ my subconscious was smirking the whole time… I know all too well about the battle of wills, the art of procrastination, the cosmic view of failure with a glimmer of success shining somewhere on the horizon… I know how much easier it is to surrender to the moments rather than continuing on towards something rather than retreating to the mind for comfort…

    Sometimes it is easier, other times I wish to curl up and hide from my expectations… I let my dreams bully me into submission… that spark of hope which arises from torment… only to be beat again by the constant reminder of failure…

    Excuses… they to me are a drug, one which makes all the worries go away, one which gives me a high between fixes… but slowly as you gradually become addicted and reliant on them they become less and less affective and slowly you long for the “real thing”…

    perhaps it is accomplishment? perhaps it is happiness? Perhaps it is purpose, or recognition? like you said, we are all different… perhaps the “real thing” is reality? perhaps…

    thanks for the reminder J

    • J April 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm

      Excuses have often provided a sense of relief for me in that, as you wrote..they can be a drug that makes all the worries go away, at least for a short while, even when I know these worries will soon come back with more power than before.

      Success and failure have become nothing more than empty words to me. I fail at things most days but that does not make me a failure anymore than doing well makes me successful. It seems to me that success in our society is measured only by the level of wealth and possessions acquired and failure the lack of these acquirements..

      The “real thing” for me is doing something that gives me a sense of purpose…that makes me feel good and most of all does not involve having to conform to society in order to fit in…

      thank you enreal

  5. Amy T April 12, 2010 at 3:04 am

    I’ve only just found your blog and I keep finding myself thinking “That’s just like me!”.

    The worst thing about my procrastination is that I always agree to draw things for people when they ask (I do a fair bit of artwork) but I know that I won’t get round to it and I’ll end up stressing over it and hoping these people forget they asked me. I think it’s definately the pressure that we put on ourselves that stops us doing things. I for one have realised that my apparent laziness is mostly a fear of failing – not that I’ll fail other people but that I’ll fail myself. One bad drawing and it puts me off art for months. I should really fix this…

    Anyway, great blog – I look forward to reading future posts 🙂

    • J April 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Amy,

      First of all I am grateful that you took the time to have a read and to comment.

      Secondly, I am all too familiar with the pressure we put on ourselves as well as the inability to say no sometimes.

      I would love to see your drawings and I have a feeling that the “one bad drawing” only exists in your mind! 🙂

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