Our excuses are big hurdles on our journey to success. The major issue is that we are so used to making excuses since childhood that we don’t even realize that we have committed a mistake. Usually, we make excuses because we are not ready to take the blame of not accomplishing a particular task on our shoulders. Secondly because our priorities are not fixed and also that our principles and values are not crystal clear to ourselves. We then try to put the blame on something which we do not possess and try to get away with the situation. The fact is that we can still achieve our target even without the required material if we have a fervent desire and we are ready to pour our sweat and blood to get the task done.
We all are aware of infinite such examples where people did not make excuses and proved themselves, in spite of hardships. Arunima Sinha in spite of her one leg being amputated, successfully climbed the mount Everest. The most reputed President of US Abraham Lincoln was a farmer’s son. A chai wala can reach to the height of becoming the Prime minister of India and we frequently come across such examples in galore. Even then, we cannot do away with our old habit of making excuses.
Here are the best 5 ways to get rid of them.
- Realize that you make excuses
- Reprogram your mind
- Learn to say ‘No’
- Don’t try to please everyone
- Change your habit
1) Realize that you make excuses
During my sessions/workshops, when I ask the participants how many of them make excuses. Very few hands are raised. Most of them live in a fool’s s paradise. They don’t even realize that they make excuses and feel superior to the ones raising their hands. The first step in getting rid of this habit is to realize that we make excuses. Once we realize that it is a mistake, will we take measures to rectify the mistake, so it is essential that one realizes one’s own mistake in the first place.
2) Reprogram your mind
Since we are making excuses from childhood, it becomes a part of our personality. We ourselves have to realize the fact that by making excuses we are not only lying to people, but also to ourselves and that is even more dangerous. This will act as a stimulus to change and program our mind to get rid of our habit. If I need to get up at 5 am and go for jogging, why do I lie to myself that yesterday I worked till late night to complete my project so today I can’t go for jogging. Why don’t I accept that I am lazy or do not take jogging seriously? Only when we realize that when we are lying to ourselves, the greatest loss is ours. Then, it becomes easy to convince our mind that I want to get the task done and not to get trapped in making excuses.
3) Learn to say ” No”
” No” is a magical word. Only the thing is we need to train ourselves to use it. To use this word effectively, we have to have crystal clear principles and values and also crystal clear targets and most importantly, have the guts to stick to them in difficult times. If taking a bribe is not in my principles, I should say ” No” even if someone offers a very luring handsome amount during my period of financial crisis instead of making an excuse of my phase of financial crisis and accepting the bribe. By saying ‘NO’ we free ourselves from making excuses. Rather than using the word ‘NO’ bluntly, we can use it with a genuine explanation so chances of hurting the concerned person reduce though it may not be wiped away completely.
4) Don’t try to please everyone
If we try to please everyone every time, we will not be pleasing ourselves. Many times we make excuses so that we do not spoil our relationships. We don’t want to hurt them, but that turns out to be a bad deal. If you make an excuse and tell your friend that you cannot come to the movie because you have guests at home. Tomorrow if he comes to know the truth that you had lied to him and there were no guests at home, it will hurt him more. Your relations will be spoilt in spite of you taking all the efforts to maintain the relations. Instead, if without making excuses, you just tell your friend that you want to study for the approaching exams, he might feel bad for a while but your long term relationship will still be maintained. Moreover, we are not born on this earth to please everyone, we are born to live happily. It is okay to hurt someone once in a while to stand up to our principles or priorities.
5) Change the habit
We all know that habits are very stubborn.
If you remove H from Habit, ‘a bit’ remains.
If you remove A, ‘bit’ remains.
If you remove B, ‘it’ still remains.
So, you see old habits die hard and it is equally difficult to form new ones.
Dr. Maltz, a plastic surgeon, in his book ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’ mentioned that it takes at least twenty-one days to form a new habit from his experience of the operated patients. Here we should not forget the word ‘at least’.
Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University college London studied habits and came to the conclusion that it takes more than two months to form a new habit. Here again, we should not forget that she mentioned ‘more than’. She also stated that it will depend on the person, behavior and circumstances. So, I guess we should not focus more on the number, we should start working on the task. It is pardonable to miss a day or two because that does not affect the habit-forming process, provided one doesn’t miss several continuous days.
My suggestion would be to force ourselves to continue our new habit for as long as it becomes a routine and eventually we will not be comfortable if we do not perform that particular task. The number of days to form the new habit may vary from person to person. We can definitely make use of the researches done as a guideline. If someone keeps on making excuses about not updating herself by reading the latest journals of her field, she should force herself to read every day without fail say from 6-7am, till that habit becomes her second skin and then it will automatically happen after it becomes a part of her routine.
In my workshops, I ask my participants to tie a rubber band on their wrist, so that every time they try to make an excuse, they can pull the rubber band, hurt themselves and remind themselves that they are making an excuse and rectify it. You can try this too.
I am sure, these tips if implemented properly will help you to get rid of your habit of making excuses. I sign off for now. See you on Sunday with another ray of sunshine.
— Dr. Anu
International Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer