Five reasons why we make excuses
Have you ever tried to make a change for the better in your life?
Tried to do something differently?
Then you probably know that it is easy to get bogged down with it. Whilst the idea of change sounds great, we can get more and more uncertain about it once we realise the practicalities of it - or face the first obstacles and resistances on our path.
We might even indefinitely put off getting started. Or decide that, actually, it is much better to stay put where we are after all.
Now, that might, of course, be the case. Or are we perhaps making an excuse?
It takes honesty to admit to this - but there's absolutely no shame in it! Because we all do it.
Here are five reasons why we make excuses
1. Inertia gets the better of us
We can make empty promises to ourselves all the time. Particularly when a new year rolls around, many of us will make a resolution to introduce a regular run or workout into our schedule or to make healthier choices on what we're eating. Or, we aim bigger and promise ourselves that this is the year when we'll quit that job we don't love anymore. Take a sabbatical. Or move to a foreign country.
Then our routine sets in, and waking up in the darkness of a cold January morning makes the prospect of a run far less enticing than it originally seemed. At work, it seems to be everyone's birthday, and cakes and cookies are around. Then the effort to write our notice and start researching what to do next seems huge - the job, after all, is not that bad, and what would we do in a sabbatical, anyway?
Before we know it, inertia gets the better of us - it just seems easier to stick with our old ways, and so we make an excuse to be able to do just that.
2. We're doubting
Initially, the change we wanted to make in our life seemed like a great idea. But, then we get into it a bit more and learn about what it would take to make it a reality.
Our best friend listens to what we want to do, then raises an eyebrow, and asks: "Really? Are you sure?" Our spouse gets worried at the prospect of us leaving our job. Nobody in our company has ever taken sabbaticals before. And wasn't there this acquaintance who had this horrendous experience when she moved to another country?
So an insidious little voice starts to speak to us in our mind: What you want to do is crazy. It's impossible. You can't do it. You haven't got what it takes - it'll never work. We start doubting and, before long, we believe that perhaps the change we envisaged wasn't such a good idea after all. Statements like 'It's too difficult' or 'I can't do it' become our excuse, to help us out of the discomfort of our doubts.
3. We're scared
There are many things we can get scared of when contemplating a change - and sometimes, we're not even aware of what exactly they are. It might be our doubts that we're scared of. The risk we believe we have to take in order to change. Or not knowing what the outcome of our change efforts will be.
Underneath all that is our fear that we might fail, get rejected, be judged as weak by others, end up in unacceptable circumstances, or make a mistake. Some of us are even scared that we might be successful - and have to contend with the envy of others. These are uncomfortable feelings! So we grab an excuse to avoid them...
4. We're not ready
Readiness is a key factor in moving us into actually making a change we say we want. This is both on the inside and on the outside:
- Accepting that we need to make a change
- Feeling that we've researched and mulled over our change enough.
- Making the key decisions our change needs - and feeling at peace with them.
- Putting practical preparations in place in order to get started with our change.
Sometimes, we might need just a little push us over the edge to get us going with our change. Though when we're really ready to make our change, nothing can stop us. Just as forcing things when we're not really ready will not help us succeed. And then excuses buy us more time!
5. We're not motivated
What motivates you more: the carrot or the stick? The prospect of your reward when you've successfully made your change - greater health and well-being, more joy at work, a better life? Or the fear of the negative consequences if you don't change - gaining weight and developing a related illness, stress at work, or dying with regrets?
Many people are more motivated by the stick - it's often the pain or stress of a situation we're in that is our greatest incentive and motivator to change. Until it hasn't reached a level that is almost unbearable, we're staying put where we are! (And making excuses.)
No one has the power to motivate you - motivation comes from within. But, if you're lacking in motivation to make a change, a coach can help you understand what is standing in your way.
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About Monica Castenetto
Monica Castenetto is a life coach, workshop leader, speaker and writer on all aspects of personal change and living a life you love. An Italian grown up in Switzerland, she has lived in London for the past 16 years. Her first book, What's Your Excuse for Not Living a Life You Love? is out now.