Anybody who says they don’t make excuses would be lying. I know I would. But I’d still be lying if I say I love them all, or at least I love making them. I actually love a few, but I’d loathe them later anyway. Why? Because I’d feel that I only fooled myself, tricked myself, and the worst, only delayed another stepping stone toward my dreams.

How do you stop making excuses? Well, for the most part, there are billions of people on earth. Everybody has their own lifestyle. Everybody has their own problem. Everybody follows a unique routine. That’s right, I bet there are also billions of different ways to stop making excuses.

But we can summarize them all into this one simple tip: Only do what you must do.

Does that sound stiff to you?

I know it doesn’t to me. I take work off of my mind on Sundays—it’s a must. And it doesn’t mean I hate the work I do for the whole week I’d find an excuse to relax on Sundays. The truth is I love what I do I’d even want to work on Sundays. But I set that day to not do any work at all. I know it’s a right thing for me—it has become part of my schedule.

You see, you only have to determine whether something is done out of an excuse. And it could get tricky. Watch out for it. No matter how much you’re enjoying an activity, you’ve made an excuse if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, what you have carefully planned to do. Of course, urgent and important activities that suddenly come up don’t necessarily count.

The Goals

This is precisely where you can start detecting possible excuses.

Remember your one big goal in life, the mother of all goals you consistently try to meet every day. Is it to get rich? To get fit? To find peace with yourself? To find a job you love? To follow your passions?

Then reexamine the smaller goals that support that big goal.

You’ll find that these smaller goals should be an intersection of what you should do, and what you can do. These goals have to be identified clearly there is a need to write them down. I don’t know about you, but writing down goals is a timeless piece of advice anyone can take freely. The idea is simple. Get anything on which you can write them down—a piece of paper, notebook or laptop—whatever. Then write realistically. Be sure you can read them every day.

You don’t have to follow templates you see on goal-writing. You only have to be realistic.

This is what I did before I finalized my everyday hourly schedule: I listed down everything that’s not work-related and considered those that might keep me from working effectively. That meant naps, coffee breaks, reading rituals, some two- to three-hour errands downtown and yes, the once-a-week “sanity” breaks.

The Reality

This is when the fun starts—when you actually try to sneak fun at any moment. Why shouldn’t you, right?

I used to say, “Following a schedule is boring!” Or, “I can sneak (insert any awesome activity) right now. It’s only going to take a few minutes anyway.” Then I’d start doing another thing to satisfy a certain longing, as if I’ve been robbing myself of some freedom that only I can give myself.

Does that sound familiar to you?

You may come up with the perfect schedule, or the most realistic one, but following that schedule would be harder than you think if you don’t create habits to back it up with. Motivation works in a 50-50 fashion. Motivation alone won’t bring you anywhere. Develop habits that would bring you to taking action. Others even believe that there’s no such thing as motivation before action—action causes motivation; this has actually caught my attention I’d like to experience this myself. But the whole point is still action. What you beautifully create in your mind, which you translate into writing, won’t mean anything if you don’t do them in practical terms. Yes, like the goals you write down, your actions should also be realistic. They should be practical.

The Clash and the Aftermath

What we think and what we do could be totally different. And no one should be blamed for not being able to religiously follow the goals they set every day.

You don’t have to feel bad about yourself if you think you can’t keep up with your plans. The important thing is you’re learning. You may consider that a small failure, but remember that a failure isn’t the end of everything. As Denis Waitley said, failure is only a temporary detour, not a dead end. The real purpose of failure is to allow yourself to look for other ways to reach that same destination.

So if you think you’re not being able to meet your goals, go back to those goals and revise them if needed. This must be for your everyday goals, the smaller supporting ones. You wouldn’t change your one big life goal right away because of some adversity, would you? But if you would anyway, try to rediscover your life’s true path. Maybe you’re only getting distracted. Maybe you’re only getting tired. Or not. Perhaps it isn’t the right path for you after all. But why did you have to pursue it? Could there be other factors? Are you pursuing it for other people whom you treasure, and not yourself?

You have your reasons. Some of those reasons won’t even be appreciated by others. But that shouldn’t really matter. You can stop for a while and listen to criticisms, but keep moving forward. If you recently haven’t been confident enough, or just had an unpleasant experience, or have been frustrated—take some rest. But remember that something has to give. If successful people were able to work around such inconveniences, then there should be no excuses for you too.

Remember I said I’d eventually detest making excuses? This may sound counterintuitive, but making excuses actually reminds me to stick with the day’s plan. I make plans such that there’s only little room for doing anything not included in them. But take note that all horsing around is already included. That is what’s great about hourly schedules. You may think they’re too restricting, but they’re actually not. If any, they make me feel freer.

If I don’t write after the first fifteen minutes sitting in front of my computer, I couldn’t focus on doing other “unimportant” things, like checking emails. If I let procrastination get me by not going to bed at a particular time, I know I’m going to feel terrible waking up late in the morning. If I don’t go out on a Sunday to meet friends, I’d feel lost, sad and selfish. Yes, I have my reasons too. But they’re only ways to take care of myself while not compromising my goals and the things I love doing.

It’s an instant damage combination if I don’t follow the goals or plans or schedule that I make for myself every day—I waste the time making them by not following them (what’s the whole point?), and I’d feel totally uneasy doing other things that are supposedly fun but are just out of schedule. And to think I have the enthusiasm and motivation writing down plans.

The Choice

Why do you find it hard to stop making excuses? Do you always look at the big picture? Perhaps you only think too much—always.

Start small—be specific. If you can’t stop making excuses for almost everything, start with one small task. Master it by continuously doing it. It certainly won’t take you overnight to nail it. A week perhaps? A month? Who can tell? Only you can set the pace for yourself.

But just start with one task, and every excuse that comes with it. Write it on a piece of paper. Stick it on your wall, fridge or even the cover of your notebook. Just to keep you consistently reminded. By being reminded and simply doing it without much thinking, like breathing, are how you create powerful habits. You may spend a whole comfortable day in the most relaxing place just to reflect and meditate on these things—yes, I guess you can overthink for that day. But when it comes to the field, to your everyday life, where you think you’re helpless facing excuses—just stick with your habits. Don’t think while doing them. There is time for everything. Thinking whether pursuing a particular habit is right every time is not allowing other important things to be done gracefully.

Excuses can be made in the blink of an eye, but the truth is, you can easily say no to them, too. You can rule over those temptations by actually knowing what to do. Get there first. Execute your plans for at this stage, you already know they’re the right thing to do. You can always go back to adjust some details but again, there’s another time for that.

What you want right now is to stop making excuses.

You only have too many thoughts for a day. Excuses could simply use those thoughts to attack you especially if you let your guard down. Think about it: Do you have as many tasks as those thoughts? Your mind is the only thing you have complete control over. Get rid of, or filter, those you don’t need. And stick to those that would make you the best version of yourself, and help you reach your goals much, much faster.

Stop making excuses. If you haven’t thought about this one little disease that’s slowly eating up your entire future—it’s never too late.

Stop making excuses. Ain’t that simple enough?

Speak Your Mind

When do you think is making excuses excusable? (Yup, the pun.) What’s the simplest way to avoid excuses? Tell us about it below!

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