Do you feel annoyed with yourself sometimes to the point where you give yourself a mental kick when you find yourself giving excuses for an assignment you ought to have completed? Do you find your mind probing for reasons you cannot achieve some set goals or get something fixed or done?
You will find out that many people will consider you as being fearful, weak, or lazy. Definitely, there are times when excuses are legitimate because the situation may not be your fault or it might be beyond your control. However, it is generally not good for you to train yourself to give excuses. Rather, you must try to do all that you humanly and possibly can to avoid situations where you would have to give excuses for your inability to achieve your set goals or the assignment given to you.
I remember that I used to advise my students during my National Youth Service primary assignment at Command Secondary School, Abakaliki: “Avoid the failure balm. Giving excuses is a failure balm that soothes you from the need to accomplish your goals and assignments. Look for excuses to succeed/excel and not excuses to fail!”
Steps to overcoming giving excuses
In order to stop making excuses, there are certain things you need to know, and certain steps you need to take. Scott H. Young mentioned two steps in his article, “How To Stop Making Excuses”.
Organizing your priorities
Determine what is more important to you. Make sure that you are not majoring in minors or minoring in majors, so to speak. Be clear about what your priorities are. According to Scott, priorities clear up the need for excuse-making – they simplify decisions with conflicting values. When you don’t have a system for making decisions, the tendency is to go with whatever feels best at the moment. So you have to define your major focus and your minor focus. For instance, you can determine that your major priorities are getting your Master’s degree and a good job afterward. Renting an apartment and traveling abroad for a holiday might be minor priorities.
Breaking large, uncomfortable steps into manageable pieces
The inability to prioritize your assignments is one cause of excuse-making. There are times when people are unable or unwilling to step out of their comfort zones to go into uncomfortable situations because of the magnitude of the assignment or the fear of the unknown. If you want to succeed in anything in life, you need to put in the required effort and take certain risks. So, nursing the fear of failure would only keep you from moving forward. The way out of this dilemma is to try to break down the intimidating assignment into easier and manageable sizes. This would give you the courage to take them bite-by-bite or step by step.
For instance, if you have to write a book, you could decide to start writing an outline of the contents you intend to put into the book. Then, you begin to work on it chapter by chapter – building the storyline gradually until you complete the book.
In a situation where the assignment can’t be broken into manageable sizes, you could get yourself an accountability partner who you respect, that does not have the same problem of excuse-giving as you do. That way, you would have somebody to encourage you, and if necessary, push you to meet up with your goals and aspirations.
In the words of Scott H. Young, “The next time you catch yourself making an excuse, ask yourself, “Does this fit within my priorities?” If it doesn’t, and you still find yourself making excuses ask yourself if there is any way you could push yourself through the next step.”