Why People Make Excuses

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Have you ever found yourself intending to get something done, yet you can't seem to bring yourself to get started?

No matter how much time you free up, you find ways to fill that time with everything else except the task you 'should' get done.

Do this long enough, and it lingers on your list, slowly and methodically turning into a mountain taller than Everest, requiring months of planning and a team of trekking experts to help you get there.

What doesn't help the situation is that every time you think about getting it done, you immediately start the self-judgment loop.

You beat yourself up, feel like you're failing and that you're weak for not disciplining yourself into getting it done. Before you know it, you're starting to sound like an overbearing parent trying to get you to do your homework. It sounds like a fun way to adult, doesn't it?

Believe it or not, 100% of my clients have done this to themselves. No matter what walk of life, what background, what their net-worth is, they all struggle and wrestle with their 'excuses'. That is, right up until the moment they bring it up with me.

What follows is an interesting shift in their perspective that they can't undo.

I want you to think about something you've been making excuses for that you just don't seem to be completing.

Consider how long you've been putting this off.

Has it been days, weeks, months or years? Yes, believe it; some people put things off for years.

The Reasons

Something fundamental to human behaviour and psychology is the notion that people do what they do for a reason.

So with this in mind, your excuse-making is happening for a reason. Let's explore some of these.

  1. 1
    You have pain associated with the work. This is the main underlying reason for procrastination. If you believe you'll experience pain or challenge by getting it done, you'll put it off.
  2. 2
    You're "should-ing" yourself. This happens when you're assuming that you need to, have to, or should do this. If someone has led you to believe that you need to do this when you don't actually need to, then you'll add more tasks to your list to create more excuses.
  3. 3
    You can't see the value in getting it done. This one is similar to having pain associated with it, but more directly, you can't see the value of the work. What you value as a priority isn't consistent with the work itself.

There is some overlap here, and that's for a reason.

You will put off anything that you don't value or have pain associated with. You will equally prioritise your schedule to get the things done that you truly value.

You're forced to re-evaluate your priorities.

  1. 1
    The first thing to confront is being honest with yourself. Chances are, you don't value getting it done. So, your options are to get it off your list and stop convincing yourself to get it done.
  2. 2
    Delegate it to someone who genuinely values the work more than you. That can look like hiring someone or asking for help.
  3. 3
    Break down the task into smaller chunks. If you're focusing on a 10-mile run, then you'll talk yourself out of putting your runners on before you even start. Break it down into 10 x 1-mile runs. Now, all of a sudden, it seems manageable and looks like something you can accomplish. You're more likely to get your runners on and finish your 10-mile run that way.
  4. 4
     List out all of the upsides and value you'll get from getting it done. This is helping to change your perception of the pain you perceive in doing the work. If you see more pain than satisfaction, you'll talk yourself out of it. Associate more satisfaction with getting it done and you'll find ways to start and then complete it.

Excuse Yourself 

Go easy on yourself. Beating yourself into submission isn't sustainable. You'll be more reluctant each time you go to do the work.

You're making excuses for a reason. You're not wrong for it. In fact, you're not actually making excuses. You're giving yourself clues.

"Actions speak louder than words."

Your actions are saying that you don't want to do it, and those actions are tracing back to the perception that you don't see the value in it. So, you can either change how you feel about it or stop trying to make it something that needs to get done.

Either way, liberate yourself by stopping your attempts to squeeze a square peg through a round hole. There's nothing more disheartening and tiring.

Now, time to find the square hole that you're made for.