Getting Things Done in an Excuse-Free Life

If you’re feeling held back in some area of your life and wondering why you can never seem to reach your goals, I have a good idea of what may be getting in your way: Excuses.

That may seem like a harsh thing to say, but at least one wise man seems to agree with me. Benjamin Franklin is widely credited with the quote, “A person good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

Now, if you’re really good at making excuses, you’ll already have an excuse prepared for why you make excuses. You may think you’re simply rationalizing events and circumstances in your life, and why things happen to you the way they do. The problem is, the reasons you invent may, in fact, be tailor-made to defend unhealthy behavior or neglect responsibility for your actions.

Excuses may make us feel better about what does or doesn’t happen to us, but they never help us move closer to our goals. Just the opposite, in fact—excuses hold us back. They make us stagnate.

Some of the most common excuses people make revolve around time (“I just don’t have enough time to do it!”), money (“I don’t have enough!”), age (“I’m too old/young to do it!”), or education (“I’m just not smart enough!”). Many people will also fall back on the common excuse of fear—sometimes of failure, sometimes of success.

That doesn’t mean excuses aren’t rooted in truth. You may not possess the ideal circumstances to do what you want to do and be where you want to be—but you can get there if you stop making excuses and start seeking a solution.

That’s what living an excuse-free life is all about. It’s about truly believing that if you’re committed to something, you will find a way to make it happen, whether it’s quitting a dangerous addiction, improving your financial life, moving forward in your career, or bettering your health.

That simple step—believing you can do it—is a crucial part of breaking free from excuses. Here are some other ways to put them behind you:

  • Look forward. We often use past mistakes to justify our current failures. Learn from the past and then focus on moving forward.
  • Be conscious of your fallback excuses. Then ask yourself how to move beyond them.
  • Look outside yourself. Ask others for their perspective and advice to avoid getting stuck in your own head.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. It does nothing more than give you fodder for disappointment and, yep, more excuses.

Overcoming the urge to make excuses is almost like beating an addiction—and it can be just as powerful. If you want to live your best life, you’ve got to start by believing you can and stop telling yourself all the reasons you can’t.