This is my third slice about excuses. My last one is a forlorn/uncommented SOL that I didn’t link to until the clock struck 12. It covers what to avoid in excuse making and how to move forward. My first one on the topic is about excuses as rationalization and the negative results of making a life of excuses.
Tonight I want to look at learning from past experience, focusing on strengths, and cultvating 3 critical qualities. Once again, I am looking at my status of my OLW for 2015, Prioritize. I am responding and reflecting to words from “A Life of Excuses: Mindmap” by Sicinski. Once again, my words will be in green and Sicinski’s will be in black.
Sometimes I do the same thing again and again and just don’t seem to learn. Like when I press the same button on the keyboard over and over again hoping that will fix the problem. What good is reflection and introspection, if there is brief action followed by stagnation or if I just keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.
Sometimes my actions aren’t consistent, and sometimes I think I’m falling more than I’m moving forward, and when I repeat the same mistake again and again and when I lack consistency and follow through, I get frustrated and wonder why have I not learned from the past. I am going to answer the questions below thinking of my calendar I don’t look at or update and my To Do list that I don’t make, don’t monitor, and don’t use consistently. I started a calendar and some task stuff at the beginning of the year, but I’ve backstepped quite a bit. Below are my responses intertextually in green.
Learn from Past Experience
Instead of making excuses, commit to learning from this experience in order to better yourself for the future.
What can I learn from this experience?
When I put a calendar inside a notebook, I do not look at it. I need visual reminders in my face, posted. I start strong, but sometimes lack follow through. I didn’t give the system long enough to work.
What has this experience taught me about myself, life and others?
I’ve got some good people supporting me, but I think I live by the mantra, “I’ve always sucked at keeping up with this or that.” When I do that, I don’t listen. I’ve also learned that I’m ashamed of this weakness and embarrassed when the person trying to help me points out to others my weakness and asks them what their systems are. Life–well, life will be the same if we expect it to be the same. If I press the same button repeatedly on the computer when my Mac has the spinning beachball of doom and expect different results, I won’t get them. Life change requires changes. I also need to be willing to follow through, and I need to be willing to say, “This isn’t working–what do you suggest?” Also, I have to seek to make it my own–I can’t have others fix my problem. You can drag this horse to water, but this horse is going to have to lean down and drink up the water. Lord knows, I don’t anyone shoving my head in the water—that would get ugly.
How can I use this experience to do better in the future?
- Follow through for a few weeks.
- Evaluate. Talk about what’s working.
- Quit focusing on what I can’t do.
- Have a visual–in my face to remind me.
- Don’t stick stuff in a notebook.
What action could I take right now that would help me take a step in this direction?
- Get out the purple pad.
- See where I am on that “to do” list I made last week.
- Add to it.
- Put it up–leaning upright at the front of my room.
- Share it with my sweet homeroom helpers.
- Update it.
- Print a weekly calendar, not a daily one.
- Take the unimportant stuff off of the calendar.
- Keep the birthdays on there–I’ve done well remembering birthdays of coworkers since making my calendar.
- Make my Google calendar my homepage on my work and home computer.
Focus on Your Strengths
When making excuses we often focus on how inadequate and incapable we are. This limits our focus and brings to light all of our weaknesses. To counter this we should instead focus on our strengths and how we can use them to make the best of every situation.
Strengths that could help me:
- I’m stubborn/persistent and don’t give up.
- I want this badly–I thought someone else suggested the word “prioritize” then I looked back at my writing and realized I recognized this. I’m reflective.
- I’m innovative and resourceful–if it ain’t workin’, I will try to fix it.
- I am determined to grow in this area. I am committed to my OLW for 2015, and this is part of it.
- I love my family so much, and I want to do better at getting stuff done, so I can do better at being present to them.
- I’m tech savvy and perhaps can find a way to go hybrid with tech stuff and print stuff.
- I’ve got a great support network (friends, coworkers, a boss, and fellow bloggers). These people see my strengths, know my challenges, and hold me accountable.
- March is almost over. I could move all the blog time to organize time.
- I have a new outlook on life: setbacks are challenges, constructive feedback provides opportunities to grow.
- I have articulated this prioritization issue to someone who will support me and encourage me. The results driven, nuts and bolts person he is–well, he has asked me what I did, asked me what didn’t work, and given me some ideas for moving forward. And if I know him, he will be checking in soon–oh yeah, this week. I have shared how I feel like time management issues are part of what keep me at work too late and keep me from being present to my family. He is a person who works hard, maintains a calendar and a to do list, prioritizes his tasks, but knows when to close up and go home and leave things at work. He has helped me delegate tasks and get other people to do their part, and he’s shown me his system.
Cultivate Four Critical Qualities
Finally, to overcome your excuses always cultivate patience, optimism, confidence and persistence. And if you must make excuses, then at least keep them private. Nobody likes people who can’t take responsibility for their decisions and actions.
Patience is difficult. I’m a girl who wants what I want right now. Even in personal growth, I want to change the world all at once and I’ve got big ideas. Cultivating patience requires looking towards the horizon while still seeing each step I have to take. Small steps in the right direction will still get me where I want to go. And actually, those small steps, while cultivating patience, will be more deliberate, more conscience, and probably even more lasting.
Cultivate optimism and confidence.
These two go hand in hand for me. When I let go of my proclivity to make excuses, i find myself moving forward with less hesitation. And others see it as well and have commented on it. This is not ego. This is a new perspective. It feels good. It feels right. Plus, people respond with more positivity to others who espouse positivity. Naysayers beware. Taking steps and moving forward helps build confidence. Focusing on what I can become instead of what is left undone helps me see my strengths and build upon them.
Keep excuse private. Nobody likes people who can’t take responsibility for their decisions and actions.
Yes, this was revealed to me this year. Often a reason given for a mistake is nothing more than an excuse, and when I rationalize what I did in one moment, I often lose sight of all the blocks and how they’re put together. Then, I lose sight of how all the brushstrokes form the painting–not just that one stroke at that one moment.
I think before this school year I had no idea of how I made excuses when I felt backed into a corner or criticized. Now that I’m more aware of the non-private nature of excuse-making and rationalization, I see it in others all the time. And I realize, how they are doing nothing but devaluing their credibility and focusing on problems not solutions. My new strength is in stopping myself mid-sentence when I realize I am rationalizing and making excuses. And then, I call my spade a spade and find a new perspective. This is positivity. This is forward thinking. This is moving forward on my journey.
Benjamin Franklin once said that:
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
As critical as this sounds, it’s probably not too far from the truth. Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about things, that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation no matter what the outcome. Maybe from today onwards, we will remember his words and take them to heart.
This is a great challenge. I can think of many walls where Franklin’s quote could be posted to help make people more aware, myself included. My final thoughts are that I need to just get started, I need to take focused steps, I need to keep with my system long enough to see if it’s working, I need to focus on what’s working, and I need to build on that. Wish me luck.