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Excuses are lies we tell ourselves to avoid dealing with unpleasant truths. But as long as we buy into those excuses, we can never move past them. Instead of addressing the underlying problem, we merely hide the symptoms. One of the most important steps in personal growth is to uproot excuse-making and confront the real issues behind the excuses with consciousness and courage.
Here are some of the most common excuses and their underlying truths:
I don’t have enough time.
Whenever you hear yourself making this statement, you know deep down it isn’t the truth. The real truth is that you haven’t made that which you supposedly lack time for important enough. You’re really saying, “That just isn’t important enough to me.” I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time for a relationship. I don’t have time to start my own business. Of course you have time. You have as much time as anyone else does, and other people are already doing these same things. The difference is that they make it more of a priority in their lives than you do. You aren’t a victim of circumstances. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them.
It’s amazing that people who say they don’t have time somehow find plenty of time for marginal activities like watching TV. If you don’t have time to exercise, then surely you don’t have time to watch any TV at all. Such people are really saying that exercise simply isn’t important enough to them. It’s easier to blame the problem on a lack of time, but the real problem is a lack of will.
I don’t know how.
This is one of the feeblest excuses of all. I don’t know how to make a web site. I don’t know how to write well. I don’t know how to get a better job. Are you capable of learning? Did you stop after learning to crawl, complaining, “I don’t know how to walk?” The truth behind “I don’t know how” is “I’m unwilling to learn.” In other words, you have to admit that you’re lazy.
I don’t have the money.
If there’s something you want, “I don’t have the money” is no excuse for not getting it. You can always earn the money or find a way to get the item at reduced cost. The truth behind “I don’t have the money” is “I don’t want it badly enough.” Earning the money you need is only a matter of time, and we already know that not having enough time is no valid reason for giving up, nor is not knowing how to earn the money. If you want to buy something out of your price range, you’re fully capable of setting it as a top priority and then putting in the time to learn how to earn enough to acquire the item.
Don’t let excuses run your life. If you catch yourself using one of these lines, immediately replace it with a statement of the real truth. At first that truth may seem uncomfortable. It’s easier to say, “I don’t know how” than it is to say, “I’m unwilling to learn.” But when you admit your unwillingness, laziness, or lack of motivation, then you’re finally facing the truth, and from that point you’ll have the opportunity to grow. For example, if you face your unwillingness to learn, you may decide that even though it would be a lot of work to learn a new skill, you could do it if you wanted it badly enough and really applied yourself.
It’s easier on our egos to blame failure on external, uncontrollable factors such as lack of time, information, or resources. But as long as we use such excuses, we can never solve the underlying problems because those factors aren’t under our direct control. We need to invert our excuses and look beneath them to find the internal causes that we can control. What we can control, we can improve.
We can’t control time, but we can control how we prioritize the actions that fill that time. We can’t control information, but we can control what we choose to learn as well as how much effort we devote to learning. We can’t control money, but we can choose to undertake more effective income-producing activities. So by controlling the factors that are within our control, we can create as much time, information, and resources as we desire.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of your growth. Muster the courage to face the truth instead of making excuses. Only when you admit the truth do you gain the power to do something about it. If you admit your laziness, you can work on that. If you admit your lack of motivation or skill, you can work on those too. But you’re powerless to work on time, information, or money directly. Don’t give away this power and doom yourself to perpetual mediocrity. Shoot down your excuses, face the bitter truth, and start taking the steps necessary to change in the direction you want to go.