In about a month, some of us will probably be making excuses for why we're not sticking to our resolutions.
Excuses are like worry.
They don't make you taller.
They don't change the situation.
They don't provide next steps to a solution or an improved outcome.
So, why do we make them?
Well, for one, we use them as a way to gain pity or compassion.
For example, if I failed to make a complete stop at a STOP sign, or I went on red, I revert to excuse-mode as a way to get the officer to lighten up on me. Or if I swayed from my diet and started loading up on carbs from fast food, I may blame it on a 'busy' schedule which in turn doesn't give me much time for sourcing and/or preparing healthy alternatives. The list goes on...
I have plenty of experience with excuses. Here's what I've learned over the years, both from a personal and professional perspective:
1) There's Never A Reason For Them
Ok, I get it, you really don't want to get any points on your license and you want to avoid a hefty fee, so you give the officer an excuse (getting back to my earlier example). Been there, done that. But the reality is, I still broke the law.
I will always go further by admitting my wrong rather than trying to cover up my wrong.
Resolve: Next time you feel the inkling to make an excuse, at home or work, or anywhere in between, take some time to reflect on the real reason you came short. Was it carelessness? Lack of sleep? Poor planning? Make it personal, bring the focus on what is in your control. Identify the real culprit and deal with it head on.
2) They Make Me Look Shady
When I think back to all the good mentors, managers, and spiritual dads/moms that I've worked with, respected, and/or wanted to be like, one of the things they all seem to have in common is that they've not been known to make excuses. They were people of their word and they were accountable for their actions. If they messed up, they admitted it and promptly sought corrective action. They didn't try to scheme up some type of excuse, play the blame game, or attempt to protect their reputation.
Be resolute not in your portrayal of perfection but in your progress towards perfection. There's a big difference.
Trying to appear perfect is exhausting and my facade will eventually collapse. On the other hand, progress is noteworthy. Even noble, if I may go that far. Progress says, Hey, world, I've not arrived but I'm striving towards the goal! That's the type of attitude people can connect with and gather around.
3) People Get Tired Of Hearing Them
You know them. They work in the same office or at the cubicle across from you. They pass by you on the plant floor, the school hallway, or at the gym. They sit near you in church. Maybe they live in the same house. That person who, at times, you've gotten to find more than a bit annoying because they're regularly making excuses and can't seem to conjure up the willpower (or integrity) to admit they're wrong. Or...maybe that person is you. I know I can relate, sad to say.
Resolve: Put yourself in the shoes of the people around you for a minute. The people who you're in contact with on a regular basis. Do you think they feel energized by your excuses or are you draining them emotionally/physically? Excuses bring you and the people around you down. So, speak life and truth!
4) They Take My Focus Off What Matters Right Now
Excuses are in connection to an event of the past. Whatever the circumstance involving your excuse...it already happened. So, get your attention on the here and now. I don't need to blame my children for not being able to make the 6AM executive team meeting at work, or for missing church. I need to do my best to not let it happen again by setting up some actionable steps.
Resolve: Immediately after dropping the ball in any situation, get in the mind-set of recovery. What can I do, right now, to make things better, to solve the problem, to clean the mess, etc.?
5) Rationalizing My Faults Is Bad For Me
The more I rationalize my faults, the more comfortable I will become to keep doing them.
I most often rationalize my shortcomings because I don't want to look bad or dumb in front of others. But it really makes me look worse. I can't right a wrong with a wrong.
Resolve: Let's not rationalize poor behavior. Ever. Lord, help us.
Keep the Fire Burning,
PS - Here's our go-to source on excuses, the Bible:
But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
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