I was originally going to write a post about burning out. About the sheer number of things I have on my plate and the writer’s block that it’s all contributing to as I continue to try and crank out some quality work. I was going to write about how we over-complicate things and tend to be our own worst enemies. I was going to write on the things we do to act against our long-term interests for short-term gains and what we can do to better ourselves and steel ourselves against it.
But it didn’t feel authentic. It didn’t feel as if I was writing anything I actually believed — or anything that actually mattered. It felt like I was describing the symptoms of a problem that I was getting too lazy and tired to actually deal with. So instead of just whining and not moving forward, I decided to go in my files and find what half-written wonders might be awaiting me there, and I found one that was perfect.
Excuses. How Many of us Have Them?
I’ve discovered that it’s easy to be lame. All you have to do is refuse to go out to things or cancel your attendance with a silly reason. There have been times in the past where instead of meeting up with friends, I’ve opted to stay at home, watching whatever series I might be into at the time or playing whatever game might be the latest rage. When I failed to produce something that was expected of me, I’d have some elaborate story for why I didn’t get it done rather than simply admitting fault and seeing what could be done to fix the situation. But I think there’s a reason why we end up dishing out piles of excuses rather than dealing with the things requiring our attention in life —
We spend a ridiculous amount of time doing things that we don’t want to do!
Think about it: how much of the day do you spend doing things you just don’t want to do? Don’t bother to stop and think about it. I already have an answer for you: TOO MUCH. Some of it is outside of our immediate choosing — things at our jobs, chores at home; the majority of us can’t completely choose what our days will be made of and have to deal with whatever comes our way. But what about the things we can choose? The times where we can choose whether or not we want to do a favour for someone that makes us feel uncomfortable? Or the times where a boss is looking for a volunteer for something undesirable, and we put our hands up in the hopes that it’ll help us increase our chances for the next promotion? For some reason, we tell ourselves that our entire lives reflect a mentality of “no pain, no gain”, but why does this have to be true? We dedicate much of our lives to jobs we don’t like, events we don’t want to go to and people who drain us. Things we don’t want to do. Food we don’t want to eat. What the heck is our problem? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we just do the things we want to do more of the time?
I have a challenge for you: SPEND MORE TIME DOING THINGS YOU WANT TO DO.
“It’s not so simple!” you cry.
“I just can’t drop everything — I have responsibilities!” you retort.
Yet you can. You’ve told yourself so many times that you can’t do things that you’ve probably lost sight of what’s well within your abilities. We obviously aren’t conditioned to handle drastic changes to life very well, but what about minor nudges toward making things better? Spending a little time at work on things we’re interested in learning about or things that will make our lives a little easier? Or what about making new arrangements at home to re-organize responsibilities to the people best suited for them so that things are easier for everyone involved? There’s always a way — we just don’t always see it immediately.
Excuses are the worst. In many situations we don’t want to own up to the truth because we don’t have a good reason for failing to do what we were supposed to — but going to the other extreme and creating a ridiculous lie probably isn’t the answer, either.
To give you a good idea of why we make so many excuses, let’s just see what a life without the horribly long-winded excuses we come up with daily.
“Sorry, I couldn’t come to your party because frankly, your parties are boring and I had more fun on my couch watching Lost.”
“My bad, I didn’t get it done because I was playing a really good game of World of Warcraft…”
Or the extremely honest thought that many of us have but never articulate: “I just didn’t feel like it.”
But you know what happens if you simply blurt out the truth when you’ve already disappointed someone — you only make a bad situation worse.
So because we shouldn’t lie, and we don’t want to hurt anyone further, and also because we committed to do something in the first place, I think there’s only one solution to this problem.
DO THE THINGS YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO.
It’s even hard for me to take my own advice here, but it’s really the only answer. You need to work past yourself, and do whatever it is you say you plan or promise to do. It’s the only way to develop the habit of actually getting things done and not having to rely on half-hearted excuses to function in life. It’s the only way to move away from our ruts and feel better about the lives we lead. It’s on all of our to-do lists — we just need to stop convincing ourselves that there’re better things to do.
–Casey E. Palmer