What’s the Payoff – Stop making excuses and figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing.

What’s the Payoff – Stop making excuses and figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Excuses… we all make them.

Every single one of us, without exception, makes excuses in our head for why this or that thing in life is not going the way it should, or why we have to do this thing or can’t do that other thing, even though abstaining or engaging as proper would actually make life better.

The difference between those who are stuck and those who are in the Flow lies in how we handle those excuses  once we finally recognize them.

Before I launch into actual techniques, I want to get something straight:
Even though I, myself, also make excuses, I strongly believe in the following –
Excuses are BORING;
they stifle change and encourage the status quo.
Excuses are a roadblock to change and a major reason people get stuck in the first place.
If you want to get UNstuck, the first thing you have to do is change the way you handle your excuses.
You have to acknowledge them for what they are and ask yourself, “What’s the payoff?”

Often, the payoff is relief of anxiety.  Making an excuse for a behavior kind of lets you off the hook for it.  It becomes “excused” like an absence at school and you no longer have to feel bad about it.
The problem with this is: To whom are you making the excuse?  What authority figure is judging you for your behaviors such that you need to be excused for them?
For most of us, it is ourselves… specifically, that critical inner voice that tells us what is “good enough” and what isn’t.
Unfortunately for most of us, you cannot lie to your own inner critic because it’s you. You already know that you’re engaging in something that isn’t good for you.
You. Already. Know…

So why make the excuse?

For some, it’s a habit that reduces the tension of “being bad”.  If there’s a good excuse, then that stern copy of Mom or Dad that we carry around in our heads will make a face but ultimately let it go instead of constantly nagging us from inside our own heads.
For others, it’s a matter of self-deception that if we have a good excuse, then the Universe/God/The Powers That Be will be OK with what we are doing and we will somehow, this time, escape the consequences of our behaviors.
and for yet others, there are a myriad collection of “reasons”, compulsions or “personal codes of honor” that say we have to do this or avoid that.

Ultimately, none of them make a damned bit of difference, though.
Behavior has consequences.
If you do something, something will happen as a result.
Avoid doing something, and nothing will change as a result of your inaction.

So what do you DO about excuses?

Well, stop making them if you can.
Meaning, if you catch yourself making an excuse for a behavior that you KNOW is not in your best interests, whether that behavior is one of engagement (gambling, drinking, procrastination via web surfing or what have you) or a behavior of avoidance (not balancing the checkbook, for instance, because you don’t want to deal with the fact that you don’t even know if you’ve overextended your budget or not), then do the following:

  1. STOP whatever it is that you are doing,
  2. take a moment of stillness and ask yourself a few questions about it, such as, “Is this actually the best use of my energy?” Or  “Does this behavior actually change my life for the better?” Or  “How can I step up to the plate and make my life even better by changing how I approach this?”
  3. Acknowledge that you were making an excuse and forgive yourself for it, but do change the direction of your trajectory. Meaning, do something that actually makes a positive change instead of maintaining the status quo.

Like many things that are good for us, it will feel unfamiliar at first.
It might be uncomfortable.
It may even be downright scary.

That’s OK.
Even the scary stuff.
Because that means that change is happening and,
especially if you are stuck,
change is good.


Thanks for reading and, as usual, this is a dialogue, not a diatribe.
Please leave your comments, thoughts, counterpoints and experiences below in the comments.

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Peace and growth,

In different period of life I have struggled to decide when I am making an excuse and when I am stating what my real limits are. Taking the time to look more closely at my intention can help, but sometimes I just don’t know. Those are the hardest times to put one foot in front of the other and make even a small change. The result of taking that chance, though, is worthwhile.

Thanks for your comment, Heather.
It is pretty normal to not always know when you are making excuses versus when you are being compassionate with yourself for things out of your control.
Sometimes the one is a manifestation of the other!
But for me,the litmus test for whether or not I am making an excuse is whether or not it has an anesthetic effect on my motivation to make things better. I find that when I am making excuses, I feel LESS motivated to make change, rather than more motivated. Almost as if the formulation of the excuse allows me to justify settling back into my comfort zone where nothing changes, and so, like a crocodile sinking back down into the murk of the bog, I fail to evolve.


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