When I first heard those words, I thought to myself, “Oh, that doesn’t apply to me right now, because it’s just not possible.” My coach at the time smiled, and seemingly reading my mind nodded and replied, “That’s a very good excuse. It should work well.”
This left me wanting to argue that it’s not an excuse and just reality. Yet (fortunately) my reasonably good brain kept my mouth quiet.
It was an excuse. And it worked well. No problem.
Without Self-Honesty, You Will Find an Excuse.
If you intend to reach an outcome or a goal of any type, the key is self-honesty. In other words…brutal, ego-shattering, gut-wrenching, and fully transparent self-honesty.
What does this do? It leads to clarification. Without it, self-deception runs amuck, and excuses flow like water out a fountain.
I want to lose weight. Great! That could be quite honest. However, when it comes to eating better, I choose to keep cheating. After a few failed weeks, I proclaim that nothing seems to work for me. Dishonest.
I want to keep my cool with the kids. Again, likely an honest intention. Yet, when the kids aren’t listening just two days later, I am screaming at them again. I declare this time that it’s my Mediterranean heritage that has control over me. Dishonest.
I want my son to do better in school and assert that I will do anything to help him. Yet, I refuse to make his participation in sports tomorrow, contingent on doing good work today. I announce that it’s just too hard to manage kids this day and time. Dishonest.
I find most of us can be profoundly capable of self-deception, and the pointer is always in the excuse. It’s easy to want something. It’s easy to wish for something. It’s easy to talk about change. But usually, it’s just wishing.
A Price Must Be Paid.
In the wishing for change or the seeking of something better, we pretend that some price does not have to be paid. This is foolishness.
This thoughtless process is oddly childlike in its orientation to reality and destined to create failure and the excuses that follow. We must grow up if we want mature, life-fulfilling results to flow into our lives. We choose to accept the price to be paid.
The Price: We give up every obstacle, every habit, every thought, and every attachment that obstructs daily movement toward the goal or intention. With that goes every excuse possible.
Notice that we can suddenly see why most of us remain self-deceivers. We like the idea of having worthy goals (for many good reasons), yet having good excuses protect us from giving up those things we are attached to.
Brutal self-honesty upfront is the protection from playing this fulfillment-sucking game throughout our lives. Before seeking any goal, self-honesty requires that we examine carefully the considered outcome. How important is it? What must I do every day to prioritize this in my life? What excuses have I offered before, and now I must abandon forever? What excuses have others volunteered, that I must also determine to be unacceptable for me?
The Ultimate Release from Self-Deception
Imagine thirty days from now, and you have failed with your goal. You are chatting with your best friends, and they are all trying to be supportive. Write down every thought that runs through your mind. Write down every excuse you hear, and every reasonable reason why you failed. Do this relentlessly, until you have covered every possible excuse a human being could have for not taking daily action.
Now, do the unnatural. Allow each excuse to be okay, as an excuse. Affirm to each excuse that ‘you are good excuse…just as you are!” See each excuse as a valid, and worthy ‘excuse.’ (Yes, I know this sounds weird, but please just do it.)
Then, and only then, check each excuse, one by one, against your goal. Determine now, if you want your goal or outcome more than you want the excuse. In these moments, notice if a ‘fire’ starts to burn inside, where you become aware that every excuse is only that: an excuse.
And just an excuse.
Find a Way.
When you abandon excuses in every form, only one option remains: Find a way.
There exists no inspirational story without this simple secret: Find a way. There were no Olympic winners on the platform without this secret juice. There are no successful businesses without this secret juice. There are no extraordinary moms or dads without this secret juice.
Stop the train of excuses and self-deception in advance (with this little exercise), and you will discover whether you are ready to pay the price. If not, no problem. Because truly…any excuse will do.
It worked for me. As my coach predicted, I didn’t find a way…until later (when I abandoned all excuses.)