THE BLOG

How to Overcome Your Excuses and Take Action

09/07/2014 14:11 BST | Updated 07/09/2014 10:59 BST

Excuses. We all make them. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. Even hourly. To others, but mostly to ourselves.

And, it's likely that these excuses that you come up with, are holding you back from creating the success that you want.

The fact is that we're really really really good at them. Seriously. We excel at coming up with excuses. On the positive side it shows how creative we can be. How we can really get our brains to think outside the box and come up with crazy, weird and wonderful reasons as to why we can't, or won't, do something.

But our excuses hold us back. They stop us from taking that action that we absolutely have to take, in order to become the people, and live the lives we want to live.

Taking action can take real courage, real self belief, and real effort. And when you're exhausted, stressed, anxious and afraid of failing, it's so much easier to just come up with an excuse.

The excuse is a get-out clause. Something which let's you off the hook, and if you can persuade yourself to actually believe it, the excuse will stop that sinking feeling of guilt at not even trying.

Well I would have gone for that promotion but.....

Well I would have taken that night class but.....

Well I would have written that article but....

And this reason, this excuse, could be completely valid. Because, I'm sure you are exhausted. And, I'm sure you don't have much time. And, I'm sure catching your weekly does of Homeland is important.....

But excuses simply stop us from even trying to reach the personal and professional success that we dream of.

I was always the queen of excuses. I got so good at them I really, strongly believed in every one I made up. And I conjured up these excuses for a variety of reasons. But mostly I was scared to try, because I was scared to fail.

I didn't think my self esteem could cope with failing at anything. It would be humiliating, I would be embarrassed, my pride would be hurt. And instead of risking putting myself through any of those things I decided that, the alternative, the excuses alternative to not try, to take no action, to stay in my comfort zone, was better.

I attached more pain to trying than pleasure to succeeding. In my brain the fear and humiliation of not always succeeding at everything was too painful - that, subconsciously, I decided that excuses were my best friend and I would hide behind them.

And I did that for years. Actually throughout much of my 20's. And when I woke up, at 27, absolutely miserable about the person I had become, and where my life was at, I knew that I was suffocating under an avalanche of excuses and I had to break my way free.

And it was then that I developed the strategy I'm going to take you through now.

It's simply called the:

Break Down the Excuses BarrierTM

1. Write down the goals that you have, but aren't pursuing

2. Write down all the excuses you give yourself for not taking action towards these goals

3. Argue against these excuses. Come up with ways around these excuses and reasons why they're not true

4. Take action towards those goals

For the best results you should do this with a friend or family member so that they can argue for why you can't achieve your goal with all the excuses that you have written down. If you can't find a friend or family member then you could do it with yourself - taking the different points of view.

Let me give you a quick example. Say your goal was to write a book. But you still haven't even started. The excuses you might use could be:

  • I'm not a very good writer
  • I don't have time
  • I have no idea how I'd go about doing it - it seems too hard

Your friend or family member would repeat these excuses to you whilst you argue against them.

So your conversation would look something like this:

Friend: You're not a very good writer so just forget it

You: Well maybe I'm not that bad? I think if I practice I could become better. The more I do it, the better I'm sure I'll become

Friend: But when exactly are you going to have the time to do all this practice? You're not exactly flush with time. Really I'd just forget about it.

You: I don't want to forget about it. This is a dream of mine. I can make time. Maybe I'll get up an hour earlier before work to do some. I could get a laptop and do some on the commute.

You get the idea.

There is always an excuse for not doing things in life. There will always be people who are cleverer than you, that you think are prettier than you, or more confident than you, but they are not you.

You are unique and bring a whole range of different qualities to whatever goals you have. And you can do, be and have anything that you want to.

Excuses will stop you from achieving your goals. Excuses will stop you from fulfilling your potential. Excuses will stop you from living your best life. Don't let an excuse, negative belief or attitude stop you from achieving all that you can.

I'd love to know how you've overcome the excuses that you make for yourself. Do you have some strategies that you use that really work? As always we would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences.