Why Excuses Drive Me Crazy
Listen to the podcast to find out one of my biggest pet hates: Excuses!
I hate it when people give me excuses as to why they can't achieve their goals in life.
It's important to identify the excuses that we regularly use, why we use them, understand what they actually mean, and how they are goal achieving destroyers!
Hello and welcome to this podcast from Clarity Junction. Today, I am going to be discussing one of my biggest pet hates. Excuses. As a new year begins, and we set our resolutions towards living a better life, it's time we learn to identify the excuses we make, that inevitably stop us from achieving what we set out to do. So keep listening to find out why excuses make me crazy, why you use them and what you can do to stop this life-limiting habit. My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach inspiring women to lead the life they want, and I am delighted that you're here with me today.
Excuses. We are all guilty of making them. From the time of being a child all the way through to now, we make excuses up on a daily basis. Over all these years, we have created a system of reasons as to why we haven't done something, why we are procrastinating about it and why, ultimately, we don't do something.
Think back of the time when you hadn't completed a piece of homework for your teacher on time. What excuse did you come up with? Did the dog eat it? Were you suddenly ill with a headache? Did you leave your books at your grandma's and therefore unable to bring the homework in? I can bet 100 bucks so that your teacher saw through these excuses as to why she wasn't in possession of your homework. So what was the real reason that you didn't complete your homework? And why did you feel that this reason wasn't good enough to honestly admit it to the teacher? Well, let's look at a couple of situations that may have led you to missing the homework deadline.
Firstly, you couldn't be bothered doing the homework. It was hard and you didn't like the subject, so you just felt it was a waste of your time even starting it. Secondly, you could have genuinely forgotten to do it. Thirdly, you run out of time to complete it. Fourthly, you didn't understand the homework, but you were too embarrassed to ask for help.
These are all good, and more realistic reasons as to why you probably failed to do your homework. In my mind, however true they may have been, there are still what I would call 'excuses'.
For me, they are just not real enough, or valid enough reasons as to why you have let your side down by not completing the homework. Before I go on to explain why I feel this, please know that I truly get why people use excuses and that is my own experience that has led me to realise how limiting towards your life's plans, excuses can be! This is why I am so passionate about excuses and why I cannot only see through them so clearly, but I really struggle to be patient with them.
So, let's go back to our homework example and break these 'real' excuses down further, as this will shed more light on the deeper cause of the excuse.
So, starting with reason one. Now, in this excuse you failed to complete the homework because you just really didn't want to do it. You found it hard and you didn't like the subject. I can completely understand this. I mean, life is short, so why do something that you really don't like, that's really challenging, makes you feel uncomfortable and pushes your boundaries? Yes, I think we can all agree that that's a valid enough excuse. Or can we? I can't.
This is just an example of desiring to stay in our comfort zone, regardless of the consequences. Think about it. Lots of things in life aren't fun or enjoyable, but we have to face these challenges just to exist. For example, we need to work to earn a living so that we can eat. To do this, we have to sacrifice our time and a little bit of our freedom to do what we want when we want, in order to earn money to do this. If we don't earn, we don't eat. Think about childbirth. Oh, my goodness, that isn't easy, yet if you want to have a family, then you need to go through this process.
Our basic needs in life don't always come easy to us. We accept these challenges, but tend to refuse others which are far easier to address. If you want to achieve anything in life, you need to step out of your comfort zone and take action regardless of whether you find it difficult or not. We didn't all just jump to our feet and start walking when we were a toddler, but somehow, we managed to get there. We weren't all pre-programmed with our native language at birth, but again, somehow we learned it in a relatively short space of time.
Now, if you have tried to learn a language other than the one you grew up learning, you will know that it is a challenge and you need to work at it - but as you have had the ability to learn one language already, there really is no reason, other than a lack of willing on your behalf, to learn another.
So, I think this is the worst type of excuse there is. Not wanting to do something because you aren't willing to face the challenge and move forward out of your comfort zone is a mindset that I find hard to understand.
If this is a type of excuse that people use, then until they change their mindset, there is no way forwards for them to achieve great things in life. They can't see that a little discomfort at the start will soon disappear, and they will reap the reward for their efforts by achieving their goal. If they are happy with this, then great - but if not, they need to really face the facts that they need to change their attitude to move onwards and outwards. No one can do it for them, it needs to be done by themselves.
So, that is my first pet-hate excuse. Basically, don't complain about what you haven't got, unless you are putting in the effort to achieve it for yourself.
Let's move on to excuses two and three. Now, these excuses I will bundle together. These excuses were that you completely forgot to do it, or you ran out of time to do your homework. Don't worry, I won't be as hard on these excuses as the previous one. I realise that sometimes we can all buy off a little more than we can chew and we end up not getting it done. Or that life happens, and our minds become easily distracted. It happens from time to time, and we have to give ourselves grace for this.
However, forgetting once or running out of time, once or twice as one thing. It's when forgetting or running out of time becomes a habit, then that's where there is a bigger issue. As I mentioned, the reason that we run out of time is because we are trying to do too many things at once, and we're not focusing in on the priorities or the timescale which is required to complete the task. When we completely forget to do something, our focus has been so distracted that we have no recall that the task needs to be done. In both cases, a lack of time management and organisational skills are to blame.
Sure, when you're a kid, that's at school, then you're not expected to be great at these skills. But - and this is a big 'but' - this is the time in your life where you are required and expected to learn these skills, and completing homework on time, is the exercise that educators use to teach us their skill.
So, although some grace is required from time to time, this excuse also drives me crazy, as I know that, in this modern age, we have so many tools available to us to help us with our planning, remembering and our time management. Simple diaries can be used to make notes, keep dates and make plans, so we don't forget them. Most of us now carry our mobile phones all the time, and these phones have calendar programmes installed, and if they don't, they are easy to download and install. Phones also have reminder alarms that can be set to sound at the time you need to remember something. With all this technology to support us, there is little reason to forget something if we can just get into the habit of using these systems to help us.
Time management is something that lets most of us down. We tend to think a task will be completed quicker than the time we allocate to it, and before we know it, we have added too many tasks to our day. This is a subject for another day but prioritising tasks and learning to allocate more time to them is the key to stop overwhelm and to get the important tasks completed first.
Another point I must also make is that you must learn to become less distracted when in the process of completing a task, and commit your focus to the task at hand. Poor focus and attention will extend the time it will take to complete the task.
Okay, now let's move on to the final example of an excuse. This is the excuse where you didn't understand the homework and you were too embarrassed to ask for help. This excuse makes me feel really sad. For me, it's a classic fear response to a challenging situation. Fear of asking for help in case you're not well received or ridiculed. Fear of not trying to tackle the challenge in case you make a mistake or fail. Basically, it shows a lack of self confidence and a fear of what people think of you.
It is also an example of how fear can keep you in your comfort zone and stop you from progressing. Let's face it, fear only tends to make situations and how you feel inside, worse.
Most of our fears never come to light, yet we build them up and put them on a pedestal. We believe the creative stories that we tell ourselves and never seek to question them. We let fear control and limit us.
So, what if you did ask for help? Chances are the teacher would, if they are a true teacher, be happy that you came to them for help. It's their vocation to help you. That's why they are there. And that's what most people feel when you ask for help.
If you are stuck with something, reach out and ask for help. The majority of people will be so honoured to have been asked for their advice and help, and will be more than willing to assist you on your journey.
As for feeling embarrassed, well, no one knows everything, no one has experienced everything, and a lot of people will feel in the same boat as you. You just don't know this as everyone is too shy to speak out! What if you speak out, and then others also come forward with the same situation as you? What if this mutual support was out there, rather than the negative response that you have in your mind?
Remember, if someone dares to try to humiliate you, then the ignorance is on their side, not yours.
So, looking at this excuse - it's your fear that is holding you back, and you know that fear is only there to stop you from feeling uncomfortable. On the flip side, without a little discomfort, you can't move forwards. You can't find new paths and experiences. You can't broaden your horizons. So, it's time to address that fear and stop using it as an excuse.
If we look back at the original excuses that we gave our teacher, you know, the ones we told them that the dog ate the work, etc., then at this point we adopted fear, rather than telling them the truth. Why? Possibly because we realised that the teacher would be upset and punish us for not doing what was asked. We feared their response.
Why would we not be honest with them about the real reasons? Would it produce more fear or highlight our lack of self-worth and self-confidence? What do you think your teacher would have preferred to hear? The real reason, or a fabricated excuse that leaves them without a clue as to why their request wasn't respected by you?
Our excuses, inevitably, have a knock-on effect, and often they can negatively affect other people in our life. Maybe it's time to start thinking of the excuses that we make so easily, so regularly, what they actually mean about our inward thinking and behaviours, and also what effect they have on those around us.
That's all for this episode. I hope that it's given you some food for thought. If you enjoy listening to the Clarity Junction podcasts, then let others know about them, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode. Remember to hop over to clarityjunction.com to find out more about our membership for women who want more from life. You can also look us up on Facebook.
Bye for now and keep awesome!