There’s a skill many of us have perfected that we can call on when pressed. For some, it takes years to hone. Others seem to have an innate ability to wield this power at the most critical times. Occasionally, we may astound ourselves with how easily we can summon it. So what is this skill? The fine art of excuse-making.
That’s right, at times we are incredibly adept at making excuses, which can prevent us from growing our careers, engaging in difficult conversations, enrolling in a class, spending time with loved ones, eating nutritiously, or moving our bodies. In short, excuses hold us back from being our best selves.
While some so-called excuses have validity – time or money constraints, for example – true excuses are often simply stories we tell ourselves to keep us in our comfort zone. “I need to sign up for that online class, but I don’t have time because season three of House of Cards just came out on Netflix.” “I’d like to exercise, but the weather isn’t cooperating.”
But consider this, if you are truly determined to be fit, you would have no problem doing squats, push-ups and planks almost anywhere! And therein lies the secret to banishing excuses. By establishing a compelling “why,” a core reason for doing something, you’re able to eliminate the excuses, plow through distractions and close the gap from intention to action. Your “why” is a powerful ally similar to a mantra or talisman that holds significant meaning for you.
So how do you find your why? Start by asking yourself why you want to do X (get promoted, learn a skill, save for retirement, engage in a hobby). Dig deep. Be honest with what’s important to you. Make a list of your reasons and keep digging deeper. Consider your strengths and how they factor into the equation. Often, your why will encompass larger ideals and cherished beliefs. When you find yourself tempted to churn out another excuse, revisit your list to propel you forward on your quest, through the tedious and challenging times.
Once you’ve established your personal why, you can use this strategy in other areas of your life. For example, a leader needs to know the “why” of his team to motivate and inspire. A salesperson needs to know the customer’s “why” to get them to buy. Parents need to understand their child’s “why” to help them succeed.
Why not begin today to identify your “why” and set your foundation for success?