What is an excuse? An excuse is defined to lessen the blame or to get out of a duty. It’s also usually full of defensive language or blame. There is an attempt to explain why something has or has not been done. How is this different from a good reason?
Most of us, myself included, tend to want to give a good reason instead of an excuse to justify a particular action or lack of action. A good reason is a word that is more readily accepted and sounds much more palatable when a project or task has not been completed.
Here we will approach three areas using a straw man as our scapegoat. A straw man is a weak or imaginary figure that can serve as a cover for actions. You may find yourself in the position of the straw man as we create our scenarios. Our three areas are: avoidance, procrastination and neglect.
If you stop to truly analyze your life, or even previous year, you may be surprised to find how many times you’ve created an excuse to avoid a situation. I can go clear back to dating relationships in my life. Believe it or not, we weren’t always able to see a phone number pop up on our screen.
So when I knew someone I didn’t want to talk to was going to call, I’d hope my mom or sister would answer the phone. Although sometimes that backfired with them saying, “Oh she’s right here!” as they handed me the phone. That was usually followed with a grimace!
Present-day avoidances are much more serious. Avoiding a medical test that could have saved a lot of future problems. I think of my mother who avoided mammograms for a number of years until she was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer. Fortunately she was able to recover, but not until she had to undergo treatment that greatly changed her quality of life.
Many relationships and marriages suffer because of the avoidance of good communication. Books like Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillian and Switzler and even Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss with negotiation tools are helpful resources. There is seldom a good reason that is fully justified for completely avoiding important conversations. It is merely an excuse. I’m sure you can add many more items to the area of avoidance.
Procrastination is the enemy of completing projects. It is to be slow or late about doing a project that should be done. To put it off until later, either because you don’t want to do it, you are tired, or you just think you can get it done quicker at another time.
I always think of that famous line from Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind, After all, tomorrow is another day. I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) ,You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. This is a statement that rings true time and time again. Sure, you can put off doing laundry, cleaning the dishes, or getting that report in, but there will be a reckoning. You will soon have no clean clothes, the dirty dishes will pile up and you may even get ants and rodents, and as for the report? Getting that report in may be the difference in you getting that promotion or raise.
With regard to entrepreneurism, procrastination is real. As a lifetime entrepreneur, I understand very well the temptation to put off projects that are not as fun. Such as, writing and cleaning up weekly articles. Who’s really reading them, anyway? And searching for studio charts I would love to find for releasing new sheet music? This is on my mind as I was glad I didn’t procrastinate in filing those charts correctly in a place I could locate them! What about writing a book? Donald Miller of Story Brand has a daily writing schedule he adheres to in order to finish his goal of writing books. It is his morning routine and by sticking to it, he accomplishes his goal.
Neglect is an excuse that is usually fairly apparent. When a neighbor neglects his lawn, either when letting it grow too long, or when it turns brown, we can visually see the neglect. There may be a reason or this if that neighbor has been out of town or an emergency situation has arisen. However, many let neglect creep in as a characteristic and pattern of their life.
There are those who are too tired or depressed to even throw away trash or old belongings. They then become hoarders or their homes will be filled with harmful and even toxic waste. We have seen some of those examples on shows like Hoarders on Netflix or Hoarders on A&E TV. It is painful to look at the situation of those who are unable to part with even the tiniest possession. This ends up being somewhat of a mental illness but is often ignored with neglect because of the connotations involved in that term.
Neglect applies to the previous excuses named of avoidance and procrastination. The neglect of health issues, neglect of relationship communication, even neglect of making a change that you know should happen with your job, your location or your personal priorities can all hold you back.
How to Get Beyond an Excuse
The best advice I have found is to develop a good routine and start with the most difficult project first. You may only need to spend five to ten minutes at a time, but start the routine. A good book to help you with this is Tiny Habits, where even one small action associated with another can start you on the road to adding in a healthy habit. Download FREE goals game!
With regards to eating habits and physical exercise, your physical health has never been more important. Diabetes and high blood sugar have been shown to increase complications from illnesses like COVID-19. There is a great article in the New York Times, How Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe COVID-19. This was written in 2021 after a study, which involved almost 50,000 Californians who developed COVID, found that those least likely to be hospitalized or die were physically active with regular exercise. This was before vaccines and is not a substitute but the study readily applies to other illnesses as well, whether the flu, cold or other viral infections.
An excuse is not a good reason for putting off your future. Now is a good time to take out that journal and start writing your thoughts. What excuses have you been making that you’ve been reasoning away? Justifying that it’s O.K. to put off what needs to be done. You can also avoid eliminating peripheral activities that are holding you back. A good book to read on this is Essentialism. This is a book I have reread for the last several years. When you are writing in your journal, define what is essential and what is not essential in your life. I think this may help you get beyond any excuse to move ahead in your life.
By focusing on what’s important and cutting out what’s not, you will have the energy and make the time for doing what you truly want and love to do. In the book Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the number one regret was Not having the courage to live a life true to oneself. I don’t want to have that regret and I would never wish if for you. Get beyond any excuse and life a life true to yourself.
By focusing on what’s important and cutting out what’s not, you will have the energy and make the time for doing what you truly want and love to do.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning