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The 3 Main Sources of All Your Excuses and How to Beat Them

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Making excuses comes from a fundamental lack of concern regarding our responsibility. It’s just like when you used to excuse yourself from the family dinner table, you were saying that you didn’t want to be obligated to do something, namely, eat your vegetables or visit with Aunt Lucy.

Excusing ourselves from the table of real life responsibilities, however, places an unnecessary burden on others and ultimately comes back to limit our own potential. When we abdicate responsibility over a long enough stretch of time we eventually short-circuit our ability to be successful.

But by understanding the root causes of our excuses and how to eliminate them, we can empower ourselves to reach our potential. Although there are a million excuses out there, the causes of each ultimately fall into three major categories. Fortunately, each has a solution.

Here are the 3 main sources of your excuses:

Source #1: Laziness

We humans really crave our comfort. Think of how many times you have come up with some reason to avoid going to the gym. Sure, once you start to develop your endurance and gain some momentum you begin to get motivated. But until then it’s easy to find excuses to not go. It’s far easier to sit at home on the couch and watch Netflix.

When we avoid things that we don’t really want to do and choose an easier option, it comes down to not seeing the value in it. We just don’t see how it’s worth it to expend the time and energy to endure the pain when an easier option exists.

We are conditioned in life to take the most comfortable route possible. Unless we see the value we just won’t commit. If we don’t see the urgency we can expect excuses to entire our lives.

This was the case for me in the past regarding planning for my future financial independence. I don’t know why, but at the time I never felt any urgency in this area. And, of course, I now regret those excuses. If only I had seen a greater value in it.

“Excuses sound best to the people makin’ them up” – Tyrese Gibson

Solution:

In order to see the value of something, we have to begin to focus on both the benefits and the consequences.  This covers the two opposite ends of the same spectrum.

In my retirement planning example, my focus on benefits might have helped me see that I would gain several things by not excusing myself from that responsibility. The first might have been that I would have a higher self-esteem for doing what I should have been doing anyway. Another might have been the ability to save up for a few nice trips when I’m done working. These are things that could have genuinely benefited me and that I could have seen the value of.

And by evaluating the possible consequences for making the excuses I might have come square-faced to the fact that I might have trouble retiring or not be able to afford some of the things that might be necessary as I begin aging more.

To beat the excuse of laziness we have to find urgency through a proper understanding of both the benefits and consequences of that which we are trying to excuse ourselves from.

Source #2: Fear

For many of us, our lives are dominated by fear. This is because we don’t see that there is anything higher than ourselves. We are self-focused.

In this kind of a state, if we are called to take on a risk whether that be financial, emotional, or even physical, we tend to throw up roadblocks in the way as excuses. In our minds, we are all there is so nothing could be so worth our harm.

But such a position brings a complete halt to our growth. We have to push through a little risk or our lives will remain stagnant. Although we might not ever entirely conquer our fear there is a way to gain the upper-hand on it and prevent it from fueling our excuses.

Solution:

Have you ever noticed how soldiers march forward in the face of impending harm with seemingly little concern for themselves? Where are their excuses to not push forward? They are overshadowed by something much bigger than them—purpose.

To overcome our fear and the excuses that go along with it we have to find a purpose that is greater than us. This takes the attention off of ourselves and onto something worth fighting for. When we have purpose in the true sense we become secondary to its fulfillment. To truly help us, this purpose can’t be about our own advancement—it must be about the service of others.

When we become other-focused in this way our values change. When we see others as more important than ourselves that is love. Who wouldn’t die for those they love?  Purpose will always eradicate the excuses that fear tries to bring us.

“Ninety-nine of the failures come from people who have  a habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver

Source #3: Pride

We sometimes abdicate taking responsibility for doing things because we are concerned about how our image might be affected. This is ego rearing its ugly head. This particular source of excuses comes down to how we view ourselves and how we want others to see us.

When we face the possibility that our association with something might put us in a less-than-favorable light we often avoid it. The ego is very protective of itself. It believes it is nearly perfect and it desires to keep it that way. So it seeks to excuse itself from anything that might threaten it’s image.

Did you ever have a fear of public speaking? There are surveys that report how some people would rather die than give a speech. Doesn’t that seem a little irrational? Other than falling off the stage there just isn’t any chance that a person is going to experience real harm speaking.

What people are really “afraid” of is looking bad in the eyes of others. They are experiencing the powerfully-limiting effect of pride and make excuses to avoid challenging the ego.

Solution:

To be free from the excuses that pride brings we have to eliminate the ego. This can be easier said than done. Our egos have been with us our whole lives, after all. But here is one trick that has helped me. Rather than make excuses to not do things like public speaking, try repeating this phrase to yourself: “Be real, not right.”

The least that we should expect of ourselves and others is to be authentic. But to allow ourselves to get to that point we have to be willing to be less than perfect—and that is what being real is all about. You will find that life is way more fun and people will enjoy you more as well. Remember, when your pride becomes a source of your excuses make the decision to be real, not right.

How many of your excuses come from these 3 sources? Comment below!

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The 3 Types of Confidence You Need to Know and Understand

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We’ve all heard it before, confidence is everything. Those that seem to have it, have it all. They, themselves, are not necessarily perfect human beings, but they seemingly have the charisma to attract whatever they want in life. (more…)

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3 Simple Tips to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships

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Relationships are challenging. They make you examine yourself from all angles, and that can be triggering. For example, have you ever had a friend or significant other say something that sparked an argument instantly—only to find out you misheard what they said in the first place? (more…)

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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