I’m not going to set up my Roth IRA today. It’s complicated and I feel kind of tired. I’ll do it tomorrow.
I’m not going to exercise today. My leg is a little sore and I have this project I’m working on… I’ll exercise tomorrow.
I’m not going to shop around for insurance today. I need to make supper and there are some good shows on tonight. Maybe tomorrow.
I’m not going for a walk today. It’s a little bit cold out. I’ll do it tomorrow.
I’m going to splurge a little today. I really want this thing, you see. I can always be thrifty tomorrow.
Actively taking positive steps in your life can be hard. Very hard.
At the same time, it’s incredibly easy to find some reason why you’re not going to make that change today. You’ll do it tomorrow… or next week. Our life offers us a ton of reasons to avoid taking action right now.
I’m willing to bet that right now there’s something that you should be doing, but you came up with a reason to avoid doing it. Are you avoiding some exercise? Did you break your diet today? Did you splurge a little? Did you put off a financial decision? I’m betting you did at least one of those things in the rather recent past.
There’s always a reason not to do the things we should be doing. Always. The people who succeed are the ones who put aside those reasons and do it anyway.
Here’s how to break through your excuses.
Constantly revisit your priorities. I constantly remind myself of the key things I want to be focusing on in my life. I use them as a mantra. “I want to lose some weight. I want to be financially independent.” I run those big ideas through my head all the time.
Beyond that, I spend some time each week actively reviewing my life. I look through the choices I made for the week and I look ahead at the coming week.
Your two or three biggest priorities in life – one or two big ones and one or two small “goals for the week” – should always be in the front of your mind. If you keep them in the front of your mind and keep remembering that your other wants and needs are secondary to those core things, it becomes a lot easier to put excuses aside.
Excuses pop up when those key priorities aren’t in the center of your mind. When you let your priorities “drift” in everyday life, it becomes much easier to excuse not doing it. Your big priorities should always be both important and urgent. If you let them cease being central in your mind, you lose the urgency and other “urgent” things grab your attention.
Figure out why you’re unhappy. I think exercise is a good example here. I almost always feel really good after an exercise session, yet when I think about them later, I’ll think that exercise is miserable and not enjoyable.
Why do I do that? Like it or not, exercise is work. By its very nature, it’s requiring you to spend energy to move your body more than you usually do. It’s requiring me to make a harder choice than just sitting in my chair.
At this moment, sitting in this chair is more appealing than exercising. At the end of the day, though, I would feel serious regret if I didn’t exercise.
Similarly, spending money at a particular moment might be more appealing than not spending it. At the end of the day, though, there’s regret from spending that money.
I might be unhappy right now due to making the hard choice, but when I reflect that I’ll eventually be even more unhappy if I don’t make that choice, it becomes easier to do the hard thing in the moment. It leads me down a more positive path overall.
Still, I sometimes fall into excuses. We all do. The goal is to simply get better and make excuses less frequently.