You’re probably used to the words – “I don’t know how”, “It probably wouldn’t have worked anyways”, “I’m too busy” and so many others. You just can’t help coming up with ways to explain your inaction when something to be done crops up.
Excuse-makers are usually seen as weak, lazy or cowardly. Although it’s an unfair generalization because we all make excuses once in a while. I’m sure most of us can remember times when we procrastinated and wasted days before starting a project and some of us can remember times we started immediately, and finished ahead of schedule.
Procrastination can be dealt with in two simple ways: Organising your priorities and Breaking down discomfort
Organising Your Priorities
What’s more important to you right now? Expanding your finances? Succeeding academically? Improving the quality of your relationships? Excuse making is the result of conflicting priorities. When you don’t have a system for making decisions, the tendency is to just go with whatever feels best in the moment.
You can clear this up by defining what your priorities are. The purpose is to aid when one event conflicts with another. If you have to decide between working on a school project and going on a date, you need to look at your priorities. Which ranks higher? Relationships or academic success?
Priorities clear up the need for excuse making, since it simplifies decisions with conflicting values.
With priorities it’s important to define your major focus and minor focuses. A major focus should get the benefit of any extra attention you have to devote to it. Minor focuses shouldn’t be abandoned, but your goal is to put them on autopilot so most of your mental energies are devoted to your major focus.
Splitting your priorities into a single major focus and several minor focuses makes it far harder to put out excuses. Whenever a conflict arises where you would normally offer an excuse, you can simply think of your priorities. When priorities are clear, it is harder to make excuses that justify departing from them.
Breaking Down Discomforts
Mixed-up priorities are not only a part of excuse-making; unwillingness to step into uncomfortable situations is another. Success in almost any effort requires taking risks and facing failure.
The problem is when your priorities dictate you need to take a big step, and you can’t do it. This could mean wanting to improve your business, but not being willing to make cold calls or marketing your product. What results is excuse-making, you find easier tasks to do and excuse your procrastination.
The fix here is to break down uncomfortable steps. Laziness is just another manifestation of fear, so if you can’t take the next step, break it into smaller parts you can handle. Sometimes, however, a step can’t be broken down. You either need to face it entirely or not at all. In these situations you need to get leverage on yourself.
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.