Excuses can show up in several forms. Procrastination is one of the main ways excuses show up. We give a reason as to why we can do that thing later. And for some things, procrastination is just a hop, skip, and a jump to never getting that thing done. Other forms of excuses show up as a reason to let yourself off the hook. The challenge is figuring out when you actually SHOULD listen to your excuse because your body is telling you something, and when your excuses are a form of procrastination, laziness, or even fear of failure, losing time, or not knowing how to get started.
First, let’s talk about big picture excuses- excuses that we make to avoid bigger life changes.
Figure Out What’s Really Holding You Back
Here are some common excuses I hear or that I’ve caught myself saying. Try to decode what you are really saying instead. Here are a few examples.
- I’m too old to start (I hear this a lot with mountain biking… NOT true! My dad started in his 60s. My father-in-law is in his 70s and mountain bikes!).
- You’re really saying “I’m afraid I’ll get hurt.” Hire a coach, take babysteps, realize that you are looking at worst-case scenarios and it’s probably not true.
- I don’t know how to do it.
- You’re really saying: I don’t know how to do it right now. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to figure it out. I’m afraid I’ll waste my time trying to learn if it doesn’t work out. I don’t want to spend the time. Meet the internet. You can learn how to do pretty much everything if you’re willing to put in the time
- It’s too cold, hot, I’m too sleepy, I have to much to do… excuses not to exercise. What are you really worried about? Are you tired, stressed, burnt out, or injured? Those are times you might need a break. You probably are really saying that you don’t want to be uncomfortable.
- I have already spent years in school or in my career dedicated to this path. I can’t change now.
- You’re really saying that it is hard to start over and you’re afraid of the sunk cost of time and money, but you can always change. You also might be avoiding discomfort, temporary loss of identity, fear of not knowing what to do next, but you can almost always change. Change is hard and it takes work, but it’s worth it.
- I don’t have time
- You’re really saying you won’t make time. You might have to cut something else out, but if it’s important you always have time.
Some of the excuses I just mentioned are for bigger picture things. But what about smaller things too? I am the worst about procrastinating with writing: blog posts, articles, books. I also have been known to procrastinate getting out on my bike, meditation, going to the gym, cleaning the garage, listing stuff on craigslist.
What should you do to be stronger than your excuses?
The Hardest Part is Getting Started
First, identify that you are in fact making an excuse. Just being aware that you are doing it helps, and try to figure out what the real issue is in the first place. The hardest part for most people is simply getting started. In chemistry, physics, or even an electrical impulse in the body, there is the activation energy, that is, a minimum quantity of energy required to get the process or reaction started. Once you apply some energy to it, you’ll get moving. Usually, applied to something we are trying to get ourselves to do, this activation energy is getting started and doing it for 1-5 minutes.
So- commit to getting dressed and riding your bike for 5 minutes. Do 1 yoga stretch. Meditate for 3 breaths. Do just 10 pushups. Put one plate in the dishwasher. Open a document and write 2 sentences. Read one article on how to do something you want to learn. It’ll help you get started to overcome that initial amount of activation energy. Tell yourself you can stop if you don’t want to keep going…but chances are you’ll keep going. The hardest part is getting started.
Focus on the Feeling
Another tip is reverse engineering how you’ll feel if you don’t do the thing. How will you feel after? I don’t know about you, but I have very rarely regretted getting out on that run or bike ride, even when I didn’t want to get started. You rarely regret doing something that you were trying to get yourself to do. All the times you overcome your excuses, focus on the feeling when you get it done and revisit it each time you try to make an excuse. It’s a muscle you can strengthen as you build more trust and integrity with yourself. It’s really powerful when you actually do the thing you said you were going to do. And if you think it’s about willpower, listen to my Crush It Monday About How to Boost Willpower (linked in the show notes).
Identity and Environment
Making it easy to do the thing you’re trying to do helps you get started. We’ve talked about this before, but doing things like setting your clothes out the night before, having the meditation app on the front page of your phone, having the default main browser page on your computer be your compose page of your blog or an online course you’re working on. Leaving a fruit bowl front and center on your counter. You can also think about identity. What would a tidy person do? The tidy person would make their bed and fold the sock pile on the floor before leaving the room. What would a healthy person do? A healthy person would do meal prep with healthy meals on the weekend to make sure they don’t eat junk food or eat out during the week. What would an athlete do? An athlete would show up for their workouts, even if they don’t always feel like it. Each time you do something that fits that identity, you become that identity.
If you overcame an excuse this week, take a screenshot and share it with me on social media. Let’s share all of our wins this week together!
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