I’ve written two books about the excuses people use to explain why they haven’t yet achieved what they’d really like to achieve. Whether it’s better health, weight loss, improved fitness or a better relationship with food, excuses are our way of letting ourselves off the hook.
“I’m not up to it”
“I’m too old”
“I’ve never been good with….”
“I tried it once before and it didn’t work”
If used regularly, these excuses become what coaches call Limiting Beliefs. Say something often enough to yourself and you’ll believe it. And when you believe it it will limit what you think you can achieve, so you stop trying.
But people also use excuses to abdicate responsibility. Here are a couple of examples:
- Jane, in her fifties, says she can’t lose weight because of her age. She says that whatever she does, she won’t succeed, so why try?
- Susan wants to get fit but says that her local gym is too expensive and others are too far away so she can’t establish an exercise regime
Both of these people are closing the door on taking action and avoiding taking ownership of their situation by believing their own “story”.
The fact is you have to own the responsibility for your own situation. You are not a victim of your circumstances. Yes, there may be some things you can’t change, but what can you change? There is always something.
So for our two examples:
- Jane might find weight loss harder now she’s got older, but it’s entirely possible for her to reduce her weight if she takes responsibility for changing the way she eats. Accepting responsibility for how and what she eats (and possibly how she exercises), seeking out expert advice and being willing to try something different would give her the best possible chance of success.
- Susan might not be able to join a gym but she could team up with a friend and go running, look into gyms close to her place of work for lunch hour visits or search YouTube for home workouts.
What these two examples show is that change and success takes effort, and sometimes we don’t actually want to make the required effort, hence the excuse and the abdication of responsibility. In that case, for our own mental wellbeing the best thing to do is be honest and admit that for now we don’t feel like making that effort. Make a conscious decision about it and let it go, or park it. It’s OK to do that.
The alternative is to take action. Set that excuse to one side, take ownership of your situation and do what you can to get started. Baby steps are fine, just do something. You are not a victim of circumstances. There is always something you can do.