The Power and Peril of Excuses

This morning, I actively chose not to do my scheduled workout — or perhaps I should say that I inactively made the choice, because I made it by repeatedly choosing to do other things with my time that were less important, which led to me not having enough time to do the workout. I could easily tell you that I needed to do one thing or that something else was the real reason that I didn’t do the workout — I was too tired, the living room needed to be cleaned up, the living room probably should have been vacuumed first — but all of these things would have been excuses. Moreover, they would have been invalid excuses.

Similarly, last week I was just as chock full of ideas of things to write as I am this week — yet I somehow managed to only publish once last week, and it was a rushed effort that required only to find an interesting photograph. I don’t have too much trouble finding interesting photographs to take as I live in one of the most interesting cities in the world. I could once again try to say that I was too busy with this or that — I work a full time job and take care of many home duties as well as an adorable toddler when I get home. Once again, however, these would not have been valid excuses for not getting the writing done.

The reason I know that these are not valid excuses is because I heard a fantastic lecture on the importance of not making excuses by motivational writer Brian Tracy. Now, for much of my life I actively was against most motivational speakers, dismissing them all as scam artists who were interested in nothing but fleecing people and making off with their money while not returning anything of value in exchange. This very lecture that I heard by Brian Tracy (which is actually a summary of his book No Excuses! The Power of Self Discipline) is what got me thinking that perhaps I was wrong about motivational speakers.

The key point of the lecture that stood out to me was this question — how do you know if an excuse you have for not doing something (presumably something beneficial for you) is a valid excuse? Think about other people that have that same obstacle — are they able to overcome it? So that means that there is a way to overcome the obstacle — you are just not taking advantage of that way.

Here’s the thing about excuses — they feel really good. It feels good to sit and say that well, I didn’t get to write as many articles as I wanted last week and I didn’t work out this morning — but I have reasons! All of those reasons add up to absolutely nothing except for justifications for not doing what was necessary to get me to a better place — a more well rounded writer, perhaps, and certainly a more fit one. The excuses feel good because if you think that something is out of your power, you have no compulsion to look back at the mistakes that you made that led up to your coming up with those excuses in the first place. You don’t put into plan, for example, a schedule by which you will write more — and you certainly don’t choose to do a makeup workout later on in the day if all you have is excuses why you didn’t do it in the morning!

Here’s to striving to make no more excuses. If we choose to play a ridiculous game and then not find the time to work out in the morning — that is our choice to make. But let’s not try to pretend we can’t crush our abs and then spend an hour crushing candy instead.

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