Part 2 of Excuses: What to Avoid and How to Move Forward

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Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March

March Slice of Life Challenge

Day 28 of 31

In this post, like yesterday’s post, I want to look at excuses, what to avoid, and how to move forward. I want to eliminate excuses from my arsenal of rationalization. I had no idea that I was arming myself with ineffective weaponry with the scope focused on me, thus hindering my progress in many areas.

The article I am applying to my world is  posted on IQ Matrix, “How to Not Live a Life of Excuses” by Adam Sicinski. The headings below are followed by text from his article. My writing is in green. Sicinski’s writing is italicized and in black.  

My status right now on priortitizing, my One Little Word for 2015, is not where I’d like it to be, and I’ve got a litany of excuses to tell you why:

  • I can’t maintain my calendar. 

  • I don’t know how to do everything.

  • I lose track of time. 

  • I got distracted.

  • I have too much to do.

  • I can’t remember anything.

  • My ADD meds wear off. 

  • I’ve never been good at keeping up with a list. 

  • I can’t stay with a system.

  • I don’t know what to try.

  • I tried that before. 

I’ve articulated a lot of these, especially to the few people who try to help me, encourage me, and move me forward. Since I’ve been seeing excuses for what they are, I find myself sometimes stopping mid-sentence. Other times, I find myself shuddering inside while I hear my words on the outside. 

Excuses are rationalizations we make to ourselves about people, events and circumstances. They are invented reasons we create to defend our behavior, to neglect taking a particular kind of action, or simply as a means of negating responsibility. Excuses are in essence a means of placing blame OF an internal problem ON an external condition.

Placing blame OF an internal problem

On an external condition

Those words bear repeating, don’t they? When I read those words, I can think of a BS excuse I used yesterday, one I used on Thursday, and good gosh, I realize I still have a long way to go in becoming who I can become. I realize that it’s true I am my own worst enemy, I stagnate myself, and I find myself feeling regret for that which remains undone and that which I never start. Of course, I also realize that awareness is huge in letting go of that which holds me back because with awareness I realize what is getting in the way of becoming my best self, and I can listen to the internal thoughts inside my head that are laughing at the words that are coming out of my mouth, and sometimes I will stop myself. 

With this newfound awareness, I want to look at this article and the advice in it. I want to look at what I do that I should avoid. This way my brain will have a real-world connection as I move forward. Then, I am going to begin to focus on ways to move forward. 

Avoid Making Comparisons

Making comparisons between yourself and others will often make you feel disheartened if you are unable to live up to people’s standards and achievements. Instead, only compare yourself to your “best self”. No other comparisons are necessary. If through your highest efforts you surpass your personal best, then that’s good enough, at least until your next attempt. 

  • I compare myself to others all the time. 

  • My husband runs circles around me. 

  • There is no way I could be as organized as ___________. 

  • But it comes easily to you. I have no idea how to begin and implement…

 I remember a teacher friend many years ago, he said, “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” Maybe not all, but it doesn’t serve me well to compare myself to others. I think that’s just like saying, “This is who I am not, and this is who I cannot become.”  QUIT IT!

Avoid Dwelling on the Past

The moment we begin dwelling on past mistakes or failures is the moment we begin experiencing the emotion of regret. Immediately we look to point the finger at someone or something else in order to justify our failures, instead of taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. As a result, we begin rationalizing and making excuses for our failed attempts.

If you begin today by focusing on the present moment rather than on the past, then this will help you throw all your excuses out the door. Yes, by all means learn from your mistakes and failures, but do not use them as a platform for your encyclopedia of excuses.

Yes, I do that, too. Here is my litany of excuses:

  • I’ve never been able to maintain a calendar.

  • I can never find a to do list if I make one.

  • I have never been good at keeping up with all these papers.

  • I’ve always had clutter issues.

  • I’ve always lacked focus and follow through.

Okay, I want to get better at managing tasks by having some sort of to do list and calendar I maintain and use. Let me take it to the Sicinski test below by answering his questions.

Begin By Asking Questions

The moment you catch yourself making excuses, immediately ask yourself the following set of questions:

How badly do I really want this?

Very badly–so much so–I want to find ways to use my time better, spend more time with my family, sleep more at night, and just get things done. I think this would help me in all those areas. 

Why don’t I have what I want?

I make excuses, fail to start, and don’t stick with any one system long enough to ascertain if it works. 

What excuses are getting in the way?

See above. Also, I think I’m afraid of failing again at developing and maintaining a system that will work for me. 

These questions will essentially help you to identify the GAP between your current and desired reality. This likewise will help you to get a better understanding of the circumstances that are holding you back from getting what you want most out of life.

The moment you identify these excuses, examine what you are lacking (as we did in the previous section), question the validity of your excuses, and take immediate action to fill these areas with everything required to keep moving you forward towards your goals and objectives.

Ask yourself:

Is this a genuine REASON, or is it simply an excuse?

Excuse

If this is an excuse, then what is it that I’m currently lacking?

Consistency, follow through, focus–habit development

What do I need specifically that will help me move beyond this excuse?

Not sure. Hmmm…maybe a system and a friend to hold me accountable. 

What’s the next step I need to take right now that will move me closer to my goals?

Commit to trying something. Start it. Stick with it long enough to evaluate how its working. 

Focus on Solutions and Opportunities

When making excuses we often focus on problems, regrets and on things that just didn’t work. Therefore to eradicate excuses from our lives we must instead begin focusing on solutions, opportunities and on the things that did work. It’s a simple shift, but if we keep this principle at the forefront of our mind when making excuses, it will immediately transform our perspective of the situation at hand.

Solutions-try something and continue long enough to see if ti works

Opportunties-take the help being offered by a friend as an opportunity to grow

Things that Did Work-going digital and printing calendar each week–clipboards work better than notebooks. In my face visuals help me. Color coding helps me. 

Seek Alternate Perspectives

Often the excuses we make are a result of a lack of perspective. We simply don’t have or know about the bigger picture. It’s like looking through a keyhole. You will never see the entire room, but only a small section of that room.

Say for instance you looked through a keyhole and saw papers scattered all over a table. It would be easy to assume that the entire room is an absolute mess. However, we don’t have the full picture, do we? The rest of the room could be clean and spotless, however our lack of perspective is preventing us from seeing the bigger picture.

Hahahaha….my problem is not seeing the bigger picture, never has been. My problem is seeing the small section of the room. The only bigger picture I could use to see is that bigger picture of what my world will look like when I make this work. 

Seek alternate perspectives by asking other people for their opinions, comments, and feedback. Get an understanding of how they see the situation before you commit to making your excuses.

Hmmmm…I have done this again and again and very recently. I may need perspective from others on the way, but right now I just need to begin. Perhaps I should elicit the support of an accountability partner, a teacher friend who read a book with me. Maybe we can walk after school one or two days a week and chat. 

Accept Full Responsibility for Failures and Mistakes

Excuses are often made because we simply don’t want to take responsibility for our shortcomings.

Ouch, that is so true. Ugh.

When we take full responsibility for all failures and mistakes we begin to gain confidence in ourselves and our own abilities.

That is so true. I have been impacted by that change in perspective this year and have been empowered it by well. Each small change seems to lead to another and another. Small steps in the journey lead to great rewards.

The hour is late, my focus is waning, and my brain is meandering to a scene/song this reminds me of from Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Winter: I really am a mean, and despicable creature at heart you know. It’s difficult to [sniff] really change.
Kris: Difficult? [chuckles] Why, why look here, changing from bad to good is as easy as taking your first step.

[Chorus]
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor.
You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door.

If you want to change your direction,
If your time of life is at hand,
Well, don’t be the rule, be the exception
A good way to start is to stand.

Winter: If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn…
Kris: Oh, you do.
Winter: You mean that it’s just my election?
Kris: Just that.
Winter: To vote for a chance to be reformed? Woo-hoo!

The inspirational song and the source of the above words: Christmas Specials Wiki: Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  

Moreover, we begin to feel empowered because life is no longer built upon luck or good fortune, but rather on our ability to successfully adapt to the changing conditions that life throws our way.

This is so true. As I have tried to organize my classroom, organize my lesson plan notebook, collaborate more effectively, listen more and talk less, and try to find my best self, I have felt empowered and have been much more accepting of the changing conditions around me and have been a lot happier, too. I could make an excuse now and say, “We all have our areas of weakness. I just can’t make the whole calendar/to do list/prioritization work.” Instead, though, I am going to begin building on the empowerment I have felt lately and the changes I have experienced, and I am going to try something new. 

That’s all for tonight. Tomorrow I will write another blog about excuses, and I will look at what I tried at the first of the year and what I can learn from what didn’t work as I move forward into a new week with a new perspective in order to begin some new things. 

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