In this Wisdom Note, let us consider that the way to ensure success in our daily trek is to make sure that we eliminate excuses because excuses stifle our results and make us less effective. So, it is time to head out onto the trail and look for the markers that will teach us to eliminate excuses forever. The markers are not hidden, but you do need to follow their instructions if you want to successfully navigate the trail of no more excuses.
During our past two Wisdom Notes, we explored the trails of specific types of excuses and presented some ideas on how to overcome the excuse obstacles on our path. On this week’s trail, we will study the markers that give us some general ideas, suggestions, and techniques we can use to eliminate all excuses forever.
As we study these trail markers, it’s important to understand that our excuses lead to stagnation and a life of regrets. Moreover, success in any field of endeavor requires a period of discomfort when we must venture into unfamiliar territories not knowing what to expect.
Trail Marker #1 – Avoid making comparisons.
Making comparisons between yourself and others will often make you feel disheartened if you are unable to live up to people’s standards and achievements. Instead, only compare yourself to your “best self.” No other comparisons are necessary. If through your highest efforts you surpass your personal best, then that’s good enough, at least until your next attempt.
Trail Marker #2 – Avoid dwelling on the past.
The moment we begin dwelling on past mistakes or failures is the moment, we begin experiencing the emotion of regret. Immediately we look to point the finger at someone or something else in order to justify our failures instead of taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. As a result, we begin rationalizing and making excuses for our failed attempts.
If you begin today by focusing on the present moment, rather than on the past, then you will begin to throw all your excuses out the door. Yes, by all means, learn from your mistakes and failures, but do not use them as a platform for your encyclopedia of excuses.
As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church Philippi Chapter 3 verses 13 and 14, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Trail Marker # 3 – Begin by asking questions.
The moment you catch yourself making excuses immediately ask yourself the following set of questions:
- How badly do I really want this?
- Why don’t I have what I want?
- What excuses are getting in the way?
These questions will essentially help you to identify the gap between your current and desired reality. This likewise will help you get a better understanding of the circumstances that are holding you back from getting what you want most out of life.
The moment you identify these excuses, examine what you are lacking (as we did in the previous section), question the validity of your excuses, and take immediate action to fill these areas with everything required to keep moving you forward toward your goals and objectives.
- Is this a genuine reason, or is it simply an excuse?
- If this is an excuse, then what is it that I’m currently lacking?
- What do I need specifically that will help me move beyond this excuse?
- What’s the next step I need to take right now that will move me closer to my goals?
Trail Marker #4 – Focus on solutions and opportunities.
When making excuses we often focus on problems, regrets, and things that just didn’t work. Therefore, to eradicate excuses from our lives, we must instead begin focusing on solutions, opportunities, and the things that did work. It’s a simple shift, but if we keep this principle at the forefront of our minds when making excuses, it will immediately transform our perspective of the situation at hand.
Trail Marker #5 – Seek alternate perspectives.
Often the excuses we make are a result of a lack of perspective. We simply don’t have or know the bigger picture. It’s like looking through a keyhole. You will never see the entire room, but only a small section of that room.
Say, for instance, you looked through a keyhole and saw papers scattered all over a table. It would be easy to assume that the entire room is an absolute mess. However, you don’t have the full picture, do you? The rest of the room could be clean and spotless; however, your lack of perspective is preventing you from seeing the bigger picture.
Seek alternate perspectives by asking other people for their opinions, comments, and feedback. Get an understanding of how they see the situation before you commit to making excuses.
Trail Marker #6 – Accept full responsibility for failures and mistakes.
Excuses are often made because we simply don’t want to take responsibility for our shortcomings. When we take full responsibility for our failures and mistakes, we begin to gain confidence in ourselves and our own abilities. Moreover, we begin to feel empowered because life is no longer built upon luck or good fortune, but rather on our ability to successfully adapt to the changing conditions that life throws our way.
Trail Marker #7 – Learn from past experience.
Instead of making excuses, commit to learning from the experience in order to better yourself for the future.
- What can I learn from this experience?
- What has this experience taught me about myself, life, and others?
- How can I use this experience to do better in the future?
- What action could I take right now that would help me take a step in this direction?
Trail Marker #8 – Focus on your strengths.
When making excuses, we often focus on how inadequate and incapable we are. This limits our focus and brings to light all of our weaknesses. To counter this, we should instead focus on our strengths and how we can use them to make the best of every situation.
Trail Marker #9 – Cultivate four critical qualities.
Finally, to overcome your excuses, always cultivate patience, optimism, confidence, and persistence. And, if you must make excuses, then at least keep them private. Nobody likes people who can’t take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about things that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation no matter what the outcome.
Now that we have studied the 9 trail markers that teach us how to eliminate excuses from our lives, we will explore Six Reflection Points for Life’s Transitions next.