“I’m tired” is probably my favorite excuse, followed closely by “I don’t feel well,” which usually is because I’m tired.
I don’t know that I’m actually tired most of the time that I say this. For the most part, I get plenty of sleep. I say “I’m tired” or “I don’t feel well” when I just don’t want to do something. What I really mean is “I don’t want to expend the required energy to complete that task at this time.” It’s likely because I don’t care enough about that thing to do it.
Do you know what your usual excuse is? For most people, it’s “I’m busy.” But they really just don’t want to.
I’m reading (and loving) Marie Forleo’s book, Everything Is Figureoutable. The chapter I read today was about excuses.
“Excuses are just lies we tell ourselves that limit who we are and what we accomplish,” Forleo wrote. She encourages to replace “can’t” in our excuses to “won’t,” which is what she says we really mean anyway.
Admitting that you won’t do something gives you the power and makes you honest. Saying you “won’t” do something means you don’t want to, you don’t want to make the sacrifice or put in the effort, you don’t want it badly enough, or you’re not willing to prioritize it, Forleo wrote.
Saying you “can’t” do something makes you a victim of your circumstances. It says you have no control of your time, energy or choices and makes you seem like you aren’t responsible for your actions, even though you are, Forleo wrote.
“You are 100% responsible for your life.”
Forleo encourages readers to take responsibility for what they will or won’t do and quit making excuses.
“There are two kinds of people in the world: those with reasons and those with results.”
Forleo identified three common excuses people make:
1. “I Don’t Have Time”
Your life, including how you spend your time, is a by-product of the choices you’ve made, Forleo wrote. You make the choices about how you spend your time, and you also have the power to change those choices.
Everyone gets the same 24-hours each day. Forleo recommends that readers recognize that they do not have to change anything in their lives, but they should make time for what matters.
“If you were powerful enough to create an overcommitted and overstretched life, you’re powerful enough to uncreate it.”
Forleo advises readers to time track and adjust their schedules. I’ve written on this site about time tracking and time management before, as most productivity experts identify tracking as the first step to better using your time. When tracking, Forleo encourages readers to pay special attention to the following “time sucks:”
- social media (on which the average person spends about five hours a day),
- the internet,
- inefficient meal planning/preparation,
- TV (on which the average person spends about five hours a day)
- errands, and
- cell phones (on which we underestimate our usage by about 50% on average).
Since about 40% of our daily activities are habitual, Forleo encourages readers to track their time for a week and try to discover two hours of time that can be used for more important things.
We should always remember opportunity costs when thinking about how we’re using our time. In other words, remembering that everything we say “yes” to, means we’re saying “no” to something else.
Consider how you might be able to find time in your schedule by eliminating tech distractions and controlling email.
2. “I Don’t Have the Money”
Most ideas don’t cost money to implement. But, if yours does, Forleo suggests considering:
- side jobs,
- spending less,
- selling stuff,
- scholarships and grants, or
- crowd funding.
Depending on what you’re trying to fund, there is always a way.
3. “I Don’t Know How”
This excuse is just bullshit, Forleo wrote. I tend to agree.
It’s true that not knowing how to do something can lead to procrastination because of uncertainty, but it shouldn’t keep you from accomplishing a goal.
We live in a time when you can find a website, video or book on just about any topic, identifying this excuse as just exactly what it is.
Think about the excuses you typically use when you just don’t want to do something. Replace your excuse with simply saying “I don’t want to.” Is it true? If so, that’s fine. At least you’re being honest. If not, it’s time for you to eliminate the excuse.
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