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Overcoming our habit of excuses

How often have you (and I ask myself this as well!) taken a decision to start a new habit and to take action for a new and exciting goal? The energy and enthusiasm is there for that goal and for a new habit you will start, yet, for one reason or another, you either do not maintain the new habit or your actions are inconsistent before they dwindle to almost nothing.

Even with the best of intentions and the motivation to get something done, be that a daily exercise/yoga/meditation routine, writing a book or doing the necessary steps towards a big project, life can sometimes get in the way. How often have you heard that before … that life gets in the way?!?

I know I certain have heard that and said that before! Recently though I have experienced a shift because I have been inspired by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. One of his recent blog posts struck a chord with me … right message, right time! Leo suggests that it is not life that gets in the way, it is our excuses that get in the way! Right message, right time!

Rather than staying focused on the outcomes we want to achieve and doing whatever is necessary to achieve them, we listen to the excuses and stop taking regular and consistent action! Whatever the goals you have set for yourself, just pause for a moment and ask yourself whether you are taking regular action or are you listening to those excuses?

We have 101 excuses that we can create that stop us from doing what needs to get done. Leo suggests a few ways to overcome those excuses.

A good first step is to have answers to your excuses. So, before they even come up as excuses, you are prepared to counter them to help you stay on track. For example, if your excuse is that you are tired (to get up early to work, meditate or whatever else), then remind yourself of the gift of taking this time and the benefits you will feel all day as a result. If you are afraid to start that big project and simply been avoiding that first step, remind yourself that you only have to do a little bit. Sometimes by taking small little baby steps, even 5-10 minutes on something really scary, can get you moving.

Another step is to create a conducive environment to take those actions. If getting up early to exercise is what y0u want to do, then make sure all your cloths and equipment are ready for you so you can simply hop out of bed and jump into them. No time for thinking, just do it. If there is some writing work you want to be doing, then clear your desk and make it the first thing you do before anything else. No emails or no social media, just straight onto the project to take those small steps. By clearing away distractions that might get in your way, you clear the path to easier action!

A final suggestion from Leo is about ‘finding the freedom‘. Essentially, he suggests that you find the benefit of doing what you want to do, that result of those actions you take. Take a step back and see the bigger picture of how doing that action, starting that habit, completing that project or whatever else will make a difference. For getting up early to exercise, what are the positive benefits of feeling fit, healthy and strong? If you are wanting to incorporate meditation into your routine, how will that positively impact the rest of your day? If you are wanting to tackle a big work project such as writing a book, Leo suggests to “think of it as freedom from procrastination and distraction, freedom to express yourself, freedom to finally create when you’ve been running from it for so long.” Tap into those benefits of doing that new habit to provide incentive to actually do it!

When you can overcome your procrastination habits and develop new and empowering habits, you will energize yourself to get on with those exciting and empowering things that make such a positive difference to your life! Positivity breeds more positivity whereas fear and excuses don’t!

Point to Ponder: What needs to happen right now for you to start those new habits? What incentive could you use to motivate yourself and take action now towards your goals?

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