Self-Help Guides

Stop Making Excuses

Lesson 1

Many people have a habit of making excuses, and most of them don’t recognize that they do. There is no doubt that in our society there exists a culture of blame. You may have made a habit of delivering up an excuse in response to every query. Your self-talk may be based strongly around justifying your actions or intended actions.

If so, your subconscious has latched onto a time in your past when offering up an excuse got you out of trouble, or helped you in some way. That action may have been necessary, but if repeated often enough, may have become a habit.

That explains the why, but the real problem is that constantly and automatically offering up excuses can hold you back from potential success in all fields, in a big way. If you are always defensive, you are creative and not moving forward. Your existence is likely all about CYA – Covering Your Assets.

This guide can help you recognize if you may be unconsciously making excuses, instead of reasons, as well as accepting that you may have faulted, or have been able to improve.
It will also discuss ways of overcoming the problem. This will increase your confidence, productivity and happiness.

Are You Making Excuses Simply Out of Habit?

Have you worked with someone who makes endless excuses about everything? It feels terrible, right? You wished you had never had to deal with this person and probably preferred that you had done the job yourself.

As human beings, it is our nature to use our default responses to various circumstances. We ignore the possibility of thinking creatively. As an alternative, we choose familiar and sometimes nonsensical excuses just to get things over with.

To know how to avoid making these trivial excuses, let us understand first why we make them.

You Do Not Have Goals

Do you know what you want? Do you have an end goal in mind? The things you partake and do in your day to day life should lead you towards achieving a specific goal.

If you do not have realistic and measurable goals, you will have less care for what is happening around you. With that, it is very easy for you to make excuses, even to yourself, to avoid doing something valuable.

You Are Afraid

From childhood days, you are conditioned to live up to other people’s expectations. You are probably expected to do well at school, land a well-paying job and start a family. In short, you are programmed to follow a certain path. If there is a detour from this path, fear and hesitation can start to overpower you.

The fear of what might happen next, which is not according to plan, is one of the reasons why you may make an excuse. Why not try to be radical sometimes? Something great might even happen.

You Might Fail

Sometimes we are hesitant in starting actions as they may ultimately lead to failure. Human as we are, we do not want to be blamed for our own failure and even the failure in others. A huge part of emotional maturity is the realization that failure is just a word.

A wise person changes course and continues towards their goal, with one less variable to contend with. Anyone can fail, even the smartest and strongest ones will stumble.

You Are Unsure

Uncertainty can be stressful. But having nothing to do can be stressful, right? One of the common reasons why people resort to making excuses rather than doing actions is the uncertainty of the future. You are unsure due to lack of experience. This the catch-22, you cannot get experience until you try. So have a go!

You Lack Knowledge

A person can also be uncertain about a specific situation due to the lack of adequate information and knowledge. Even if we have a great idea, we may shy away and hide it because we are not equipped with the right knowledge.

You might think that others will question your idea because you do not have knowledgeable expertise in it. However, when we make excuses, things don’t get done, or are not done as well or quickly as they should.

Bland and trivial excuses are often times the main reason why people are not able to accomplish their life plans. It can become very limiting when making excuses becomes a habit, as the excuse it seen as justification by yourself not to do what really does need to be done.

Take time for some critical self-reflection and ask yourself if your excuse habit is what is holding you back. So, now is the right time to stop making excuses and do things right. Avoiding the signs above will help you achieve greater things in life.

Do You Make ‘Excuses’ or Give ‘Reasons’?

What type of person are you? A person who gives excuses when things do not go according to plan? Or someone who gives a valid reason and accepts responsibility even if it’s not your fault and tries to improve the next time?

You can fast-track your personal growth by a closer inspection of the difference between “excuses” and “reasons.” Have you heard your boss say, “I need results, not excuses”? Giving excuses may be common in your workplace. Perhaps you’re guilty of doing so. You might have said, “I did not finish the report because I have a lot of things to do”.

There’s always an excuse when a task has not been accomplished, or a goal has not been reached. An excuse is justifying and defending yourself for not doing the things you need to do. You’re absolving yourself by shifting the blame to another person or to the situation.

In a sense, you're saying 'It's not my fault!”. There’s no positive result from this behavior. It conveys that you're inefficient, irresponsible, and refusing to accept responsibility.

Excuses can be habitual. You may practice it only in the office but also in another aspect of your life - dealing with your partner and children or in your relationships with other people.

Limiting what you are expected to do by giving excuses is often a very real reason why people fail to see their dreams and visions become a reality.

“Just Give a Reason”

A reason is giving an explanation and showing factors beyond your control that contribute to not finishing your task or reaching your goal. However, you accept responsibility for what you have done and not done. You allow yourself a chance to change and grow.

With this proactive view in life, you believe you can improve and do better the next time. By doing so, you’re open to greater possibilities of what you can accomplish. It shows you have an analytical mind, you’re logical and rational, and a person who is goal-oriented and can find ways to reach them.

When you accept your shortcomings and personality flaws, you start to think of a better course of action to reach and accomplish what you set out to do.
With this attitude, you establish a stronger relationship with your boss, co-workers, family, friends, and acquaintances.

You’re a person that can be relied on. You can take on more responsibility. Opportunities for promotion within an organizations are enhanced . As far as your future is concerned, you will be more successful in whatever endeavor you have chosen.

Four Popular Excuses You Can Transform into Potential

1. I don’t have the skills and education to qualify for the job.

Is this a valid reason for not doing your job well, or attempting to do better? Of course not! Skills are acquired, you can learn them. If you don’t have any idea how to do the task, ask someone.

Find someone to mentor you. You can also learn different skills needed for your job from online courses or short courses and training offered by universities and colleges.

2. I can’t find the time to do all the things I want to do.

There’s always something to do to occupy your time. Making priorities is the key to be more productive and efficient. You can make a journal and list your task from the most important to the least and give each one a time frame. At the end of the day, you’ll find that you still have time left to spend with your family and friends.

3. I’m not given the right opportunity.

Waiting for the right opportunity, or worse still, waiting to be ‘discovered’ is the slowest road to success. How about if it never happens? Instead of waiting, make your own opportunities. Make your own bridge and cross it which means you can create opportunities for yourself. Meet new contacts, learn new skills or try a different approach. There are a lot of possibilities, if you are proactive.

4. I’m a failure whatever I do.

Negative thinking will forever keep you from maximizing your potential. How can you be successful if you always think of failure? Be positive. Don’t compare yourself with others.

Constantly remind yourself that you have your own set of talents and skills. Set achievable goals based on your potential. Don’t waste time fantasizing about unattainable things. Put real effort into real goals.

Stop Making Excuses for Bad Behavior

There are many things we can’t control, and sometimes we are put in a difficult situation that prevents us from keeping our promises or from delivering what is expected of us. When times like that happen, we crave for understanding from the people we disappoint.

On the flip side, when a family member or friend wrongs or disappoints us, we try to understand and accept whatever justification they make for being late, for not showing up, for telling lies, and so on.

That is fine for an occasional lapse, and forgiveness is noble, however, if we keep on making excuses for our own or other people’s bad behavior, that is another story. We all know that habitual bad behavior is unacceptable. Still, people often choose to find something or someone else to blame for their bad behavior or that of their loved ones.

When anyone does that repeatedly, especially if unchallenged, it becomes a habit. A person will continue because they know they can get away with it. This is simply taking the path of least resistance, but it is not exemplary behavior.

Why Should You Stop Making Excuses for Bad Behavior?

Simple. It’s neither good for you or for the ones you’re making excuses for. If you’re someone who keeps on making excuses for turning up late, it shows that you’re not valuing other people’s time and that you think you are more important than them, or at least that your time is more valuable than theirs. You are also not managing your time well.

Have you ever told yourself, “It’s okay, everyone else is doing it anyway”? You want to be right, so you give justifications for your actions, even though deep down, you know it’s not true.

Maybe you don’t want to get emotionally hurt, so you avoid confronting the issues, and you lie to yourself. Perhaps you’re in a bad relationship with someone, and your friends are pointing out to you the red flags, and yet you refuse to listen to good advice that you should just leave.

Or, “I’m too busy,” you say, when you’ve been wanting to lose weight but you haven’t exercised even a bit.

Making excuses for your poor choices could have serious repercussions - on your career, personal relationships, self-esteem, and physical health. Being consistently late for work can affect how your employer and your co-workers view your professionalism. Staying in a toxic relationship will not make you happy.

Meanwhile, if you make justifications for other people’s bad behavior when they have wronged you, it is also doing more harm to them. For instance, when someone is abusive, and you tell yourself it’s okay because he had a difficult childhood, it disempowers that person, as well as destroying your happiness.

By allowing them to continue their bad behavior, you are saying that they are not capable of getting better. It can also make them act like an entitled jerk. Having a bad life doesn’t mean they should be a bad person.

You Have to Stop Making Excuses for Your OWN Behavior

Recognize your mistakes and take responsibility. Grow up, as this is a real form of emotional immaturity. Don’t let fear overcome you. Instead, confront the issues and build your self-esteem. Listen to yourself. Assess how you’ve been acting and determine if you’re behaving in a way that’s not in line with who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to fail, because it’s an important part of learning and succeeding in life.

As a member of society, you also need to help others to stop justifying their unacceptable behavior. Say no to an abusive person. Call them out for their negative words and actions. Analyze your relationship with them. If they are not willing to get out of their way to meet you, why should you? Those who truly care would make time and find ways to be there for you.

Walk away from a toxic relationship, especially when the other party is not willing to change. Hold them to higher standards, and if they are not willing to change, just let them go. The more you let them lie to you, the more they will repeat it, and the more you’ll get hurt and disappointed.

Let’s not make life more complicated than it already is. Simplify it by focusing your time and energy on people who deserve your kindness the most, and those who have earned it. You deserve to be treated right as well, so don’t sacrifice your happiness.

Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, but when they are repeating a bad behavior, don’t just let them get away with it. Because you can do something.

Stop Making Excuses Due to Fear and Start Doing

For many of us, fear stops us from doing what we want and need. Fear can be debilitating and paralyzing. When our comfort zone is challenged, fear sets in and stops us dead in our tracks.

Then we end up making excuses, which essentially just reinforces the fear. Instead of giving in to fear, it’s time to conquer the fears and live the life we were meant to live.

Being completely free of all fears isn’t rational, or safe. Biologically we are wired to handle threatening situations by a fight, flight or freeze reaction.

Walking down a dark alley at night isn’t a good idea. Why?

Because we don’t know what’s lurking in the dark and it’s not worth the risk to find out.

Swerving through traffic at an increased rate of speed also isn’t a good idea. Why?

Because we can’t predict the behavior of the other drivers and the results could be disastrous, even deadly.

Those types of fears are normal and necessary.

Irrational Fears

Irrational fear can be based on many things, some of which include:

  • Uncertainty – worry about outcomes unknown
  • Future – events or circumstances that may or may not happen
  • Failure – defeat, lack of success or desired outcome
  • Mistakes – imperfection, inadequate
  • Comparison – being compared to others, insecure
  • Embarrassment – public or personal humiliation.

By no means is that an exhaustive list, but they are some of the most common fears that keep us from moving forward, and there’s an excuse for every fear.

In some way we rationalize our fears by providing excuses so we aren’t forced to challenge ourselves. The thing is, without challenges personal and/or professional growth is virtually impossible.

Let’s look at some of the best excuses we lean on, how to push past the fear and start doing.

Excuse: I don’t know how.

Solution: If you’re reading this right now, you’ve got all the tools you need to discover just about anything. The internet is like having every resource known to man right at your fingertips. Videos and tutorials are the big thing, in case you didn’t know. No one else on the planet is more responsible for what you know than you.

Excuse: I don’t like people.

Solution: First of all, that’s probably untrue and you’re telling yourself a lie. Not being confident or comfortable around other human beings doesn’t mean you don’t like them.

It means you need to expose yourself to others and learn that you aren’t so different after all. Humans are naturally social creatures. Just get out there and start mingling!

Excuse: I don’t know what I want.

Solution: Lack of direction will stop you before you even start. To combat this excuse you can begin by writing down a list of the things that make you happy, that make you feel good, and that make you feel smart and beautiful and creative.

On the other side of the paper write down things that make you unhappy or uninspired. Fix the compass of your life to point in the direction of the first side of the paper. Your goals and desires will eventually surface when you are honest with yourself.

Excuse: I’m too old.

Solution: Did you know Harlan Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 62? Or that Samuel Jackson didn’t land an award-winning lead role until he was 43? Or that Ronald Reagan was 70 when he became the 40th American President? Or that Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at age 73? Age is a poor excuse. Don’t use it.

Excuse: I’m too young.

Solution: Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook at the age of 19. Alexander Graham Bell was 18 when he began developing the telephone. The Braille reading system was invented by Louis Braille when he was just 15.

Age doesn’t limit intellectual ability or creativity, but your excuse sure will if you allow it. Ask yourself this question: At exactly what age will I be old enough? If you can’t answer it, your excuse is invalid.

Excuse: I don’t have the time.

Solution: The truth of the matter is, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll make the time. Sometimes we can’t figure out a starting point and use a lack of time as the excuse to never even get started. It helps to start small.

Break up an overwhelming project into smaller tasks so it doesn’t feel so intimidating. Use an agenda, a calendar or project management app to get organized. Once you have steps it’s easier to climb.

There will always be fear. Frankly, it’s inevitable. There will also always be reasons to quit or not start at all. You will never know how far you can go until take the first step. And the next.

How to Stop Making Excuses

We all want the good things in life. We want to succeed, be happy, to fulfill our greatest potential; all of which hold the key to our long-lasting happiness and success. However, if this were easy, we would all be living our best lives today, and all of us would be successful and happy.

What keeps most of us from our greatest potential is not simply life being ridiculously unfair, it’s our excuses. We are all given the same hours in a day. Yet, still, many people are unable to maximize their time and opportunities because of their excuses.

It’s very easy to make an excuse and believe it to be the truth. One study from the University of British Columbia confirmed that the human brain is innately attracted to doing what is easier. Making excuses comes at a lesser cost than working hard and taking action on our goals. Our brain’s first instinct is to resist difficulty.

This is why making excuses is convenient and easy to do, which gives us an escape from challenging tasks. However, we all know that making excuses won’t get us any closer to our goals in life. If you constantly succumb to the path of least resistance and don’t challenge yourself to greater heights, what are the chances of growing into a better person and becoming the best version of yourself?

It is very important to overcome this bad habit. Making excuses will stunt your mental and emotional growth. It is one of the biggest mental blocks that is stopping you from enjoying many opportunities in life.

Learn how to stop making excuses with the following strategies.

Be Accountable for Your Success In Life

Nobody else is responsible for your success in life. You have to learn how to overcome obstacles and challenges, rather than excusing them away. If our first instinct is to make excuses, we will never become successful at anything. If we take responsibility for our goals, we will persevere. Tenacity, not excuses, will ensure our success in life.

Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Create Action Steps to Achieve Them

We need to create goals that are S-M-A-R-T enough. Goals should be ‘Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely’. With clear goals in mind, we can then take action towards making them happen.

If your goal is too big, you’ll most likely feel overwhelmed, so make them attainable to start. Sometimes you can sabotage yourself by making an easy excuse that it’s all too much or too hard.

The key is to break your goals down into smaller goals which makes them easier to accomplish one task at a time. In order to win against the many obstacles that will challenge you along the way, create a strong vision of your end goal. This will support you when the bad excuse habit wants to kick in.

Challenge Yourself

How you will be able to really win against the habit of making excuses is to challenge yourself constantly. Practice self-discipline and remind yourself of what will or won’t happen if you succumb to making an excuse. Remind yourself constantly of your goals and the sacrifices you need to do right now, in order to achieve them.

Improve Your Self-Worth

It takes a healthy sense of self-worth to fuel your confidence in order to achieve your goals. It will enable you to achieve your desired results with more confidence in your ability to do so. Know you can do it and praise yourself.

Celebrate Small Wins

Motivate yourself by celebrating small wins. Don’t take your efforts for granted, instead, give yourself little rewards that will keep you moving towards your goals. Always celebrate your progress, and don’t look for perfection, or make excuses that you’re not perfect. No one is, and it’s not what matters.

Keep Going, Don’t Stop

You really just need to keep going, even when the going gets tough. We all feel like some days we need more motivation, or more energy, or more inspiration.

Listen to yourself and try to understand why you’re feeling like this. On days when it’s easier to make excuses than make progress, give yourself time to process and reflect on your actions. Remind yourself to keep moving forward, and remind yourself you don’t want to stop until you succeed.


Modern societies are increasingly litigious. This has led to problems on multiple fronts. Firstly, there must be someone at fault, someone to blame, someone to pay. Secondly, make sure that is not you!

Most of us have some habit or another that holds us back, or causes us to act in ways that are not in our best interest. Like all negative habits, they formed as a protective mechanism.

Now that you have read this report, take some time for some honest self-appraisal. Does any of this describe you or your actions?

If so, weigh up your options. You can continue as you are. But do feel like you are living less than you could be? Do you feel you are overlooked or ignored when there are advancement opportunities?

A mindset that is based on defensive excuse-making is at odds with ‘going for gold’. If this is you, you will always feel defensive, and will have to be satisfied with whatever others decide you should have.

When you learn to accept that mistakes and even ‘failure’ are a big part of progress and success, you can move beyond your current limits.

It is very empowering to be able to accept criticism and even blame, and then use it to better your thoughts, actions and your very self. Like everything worthwhile, it requires real personal effort, but it can change your life, and your attitude to everything around you.

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