How To Stop Making Excuses For Yourself, And Start Achieving Your Goals Instead

I was talking to a friend last week about how hard it is for her to stay on track with her...

I was talking to a friend last week about how hard it is for her to stay on track with her goals. She came to me desperate to find a schedule that would work for her, claiming she never has enough time to work on her goals.

But more than that, during our conversation I noticed how she kept making excuses for everything that she was unhappy about in her life: the way people treated her, the promotion she didn’t get, the neighborhood she was living in, the bills that kept on piling up. Pretty much everything in her life has nothing to do with her – or so she tells herself. What I told her is that it was time for her to stop making excuses for herself, and time for her to start achieving her goals instead.

We all love making excuses for ourselves

My friend is not alone in this. In fact, we all love to make excuses for ourselves. It’s our go-to habit when fear sets in, keeping it at bay comfortably by convincing ourselves that – although it’s not our fault – we simply cannot do, have, or achieve what it is we claim we so dearly want.

The reasons we rely on excuses may vary, but the results always remain the same: we don’t move forward with our lives, we don’t achieve our goals, we keep ourselves small.

Our excuses make it so easy for us to stay in our comfort zones

As I mentioned above, the reasons why we fall back on excuses may look different, but there is one thing almost all of them come down to: fear. When we start digging into the reasons why we love excuses to much, fear is almost always where we end up at:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Fear of being made responsible
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of (fill in the blank)

In my own life, I know I’ve kept myself small for so many years because of, well… all of the fears above, and more! I was even afraid to feel fear, and made a point out of avoiding anything that could make me feel uncomfortable. As a result, my comfort zone kept becoming smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

Until one day I realized that anything that remotely affected me with fear – things I had loved doing in the past, like going to amusement parks, or skiing, or even boarding a plane – had unconsciously made it from the fun list to the fear list.

Little by little I had shrunk my comfort zone to the point where it fit into my own pocket. I was devastated.

Our excuses and our fears love to work together

When I realized what I had done, and how much of the goals I wanted to achieve where unattainable for me considering where I was, I started to see a steady pattern between fear and excuses. I came to the conclusion that they love to work together!

Fear will ignite the excuse-o-meter, while our excuses are based on all the false ideas and beliefs we’ve gathered throughout our lives about what it is we can or cannot do. After a while – as I discovered through my own fears – this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: fears lead to excuses, and the more excuses you use the more fearful you become.

Overcoming your fears is the first step to stop making excuses

In order to break the cycle then, you need to work on overcoming your fears. Because the less fearful you are, the less you’ll hide behind excuses. If you don’t, you’ll not only keep yourself from achieving you full potential, and best life, you’ll also have a heap of other issues besides not achieving your goals:

  • You’ll start believing so many excuses that there won’t be any room left for creativity and risk in your life
  • You’ll reduce your comfort zone until it fits in your pocket
  • You’ll become self-centered, and probably very pessimistic
  • By relying on excuses you’ll reject taking responsibility for your own life, and actions
  • Eventually you’ll probably regret not having taken more chances in your life

Recognizing you’re making excuses is the first step to overcoming your fears

As with most things we do to ourselves, recognizing that we’re doing them is the first step toward change. With excuses it’s no different. But recognizing you’re making excuses for yourself can be difficult, and something that can meet a lot of resistance. With me, it’s definitely been the case. I kept myself small, and kept telling myself why things couldn’t be different, but I never questioned my beliefs.

My daily inner chatter, when thinking about the big dreams and goals I had for myself, would usually sound something like this:

  • I don’t have enough time to do it
  • I’ll be able to do it when…
  • I can’t do it, people will hate me if I do
  • I’ll never be able to make a living out of it
  • It’s not meant for me

Eventually I started noticing my inner talk. Then one night, when I was contemplating the big dreams I had for myself yet again, she said: you’ll never do it anyway. It was a defining moment in my life.

Redefining excuses as opportunities

That night, I made a list of all the things I had dreamed of doing but never actually done. Or started, but never finished. The list went on and on. Then I made a list of all the things I knew my parents dreamed of doing, but also never did. So I made a pact with myself, and decided to become the watch guard of my goals by noticing when I was making excuses, figuring out what my fears were, then redefining my excuses as opportunities instead:

#1 Ask yourself what kind of excuses you’re telling yourself

What am I telling myself so that I don’t have to do this or that?
What kept me from doing this or that?
I know I want to do this or that, so why am I not doing it?

#2 Identify what fears your excuses are expressing

What am I afraid of?
What do I think will happen if I do this or that?
What does fear look like for me?

#3 Redefine your excuses as opportunities

“I don’t have time” becomes “I have as much time as anyone else”
“I can’t do it, people will hate me if I do” becomes “What’s the worst that can happen?”
“I’ll be ready when” becomes “I’m ready now” or – my favorite – “I’ll never be ready, so I might as well do it now”

By redefining my excuses into opportunities, and always being on the lookout for the ways my fears love to express themselves to me, I’ve been able to overcome so much, and to make so many seemingly impossible things happen in my life.

That is what I want for you too. Don’t let your excuses stop you from achieving anything in your life.

In the comments below, I invite you to share how your fears come up as excuses, and what excuses you’ve used to not move forward with something in your life. And why not join me in Paris for my upcoming Sisterhood Retreat? A day of growth and sisterhood where you’ll leave your excuses behind for good!

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