Stop Making Excuses in 10 Steps

Are you the kind of guy who always finds excuses for his shortcomings? If so, it's time to find out why and start doing something about it.

The habit of constantly making excuses for oneself can have multiple impacts, ranging from laughingly being referred to as undependable to being considered overly defensive and paranoid. You may be strong, forthright and well-respected in all other aspects of your professional, personal and family life, but if you're always covering up your shortcomings with excuses, some kind of negative reputation is bound to develop.

The solution lies entirely within your own control. It's time to break the habit of making excuses.

Recognize your excuses
You know your excuses have become a problem if someone confronts you about it, even in a joking manner. Worse still, people may not seem to respect or trust you. Maybe you're known as someone who breaks promises places blame on others, or doesn't accept responsibility for actions or errors. You might be the guy who always procrastinates, takes on too much or can't say "no" and then can't get everything done.

In any case, your reputation is that of someone who can't be counted on. Your friends and colleagues view you as the last person they can ask for a favour and no one wants to be that guy.

When you make excuses all the time, you're perceived as a man who is overly defensive and not dependable. It's time to make a change.

"The one common denominator in every mess you find yourself in is you."  - Bob Wall

Your goals
In order to restore your reputation as a reliable guy, you're going to need to shed some of the hallmarks of the chronic excuse-maker. It's time to:

·         Regain respect and stop allowing people to take advantage of you.

·         Change people's perception of you from weak to assertive.

·         Increase your self-confidence and sense of pride.

No more excuses!
Time to stop being the excuse guy. Here are 10 steps to get you there.

1- Face the facts
As with most bad habits, the first step to dealing with excuse-making is to acknowledge that you have this problem. Don't procrastinate and hope it will resolve itself. Your friends and family have stopped accepting your explanations at face value -- so should you.

2- Get over yourself
Because you have never acknowledged your own responsibility in making excuses, maybe you have felt like people are out to get you. Well, it's time to leave the conspiracy theories to Oliver Stone. Try to stop being paranoid. There will always be people who disagree with you, criticize you unjustly or disrespect you. Don't waste a lot of time and energy creating explanations and excuses to prove them wrong. You'll just sound suspicious, distrustful and immature.

3- Clarify expectations
If you restrict yourself to tasks that you can actually accomplish, you won't be tempted to later account for your failings. Be upfront when asked to plan the office team-building activity. Ask what time commitment is required before you take it on. Don't feel forced to accept if you know that you'll end up laying the blame on others when you fall short.

4- Be honest

Making up excuses is as stressful as lying, because you have to remember exactly what you have told various people. Be honest and relieve yourself of the stress. Stop embellishing descriptions to cast your own self in a better light. Your defensive attitude makes your friends, family and co-workers uncomfortable.

5- Stop complaining
Constant hypercriticism of others doesn't make you look any better. Stop shirking responsibility and looking for the easy way out. If, in fact, the gym is overcrowded, expensive and has lousy parking, find an alternate one. Otherwise, admit you don't like working out, find another way to get fit and quit whining. Remind yourself each day of the negative implications of constantly finding excuses. Drive yourself to change.

6- Speak up, then shut up
Learn to say you're sorry without launching into a long-winded explanation. The reasons why your report was late don't matter. If you forgot your wedding anniversary, face the music and apologize without hiding behind fictitious reasons. Challenge yourself to eliminate extraneous excuses -- starting right now.

"Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn to exercise his will -- his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals."  - Albert Schweitzer

7- Accept criticism
Take ownership of your shortcomings and mistakes, but don't let habitual faultfinders undermine your confidence. You may be reinventing your attitude, but not everyone else is -- don't let others force you to revert to your old defensive ways. When you receive criticism, ask for specifics. In your annual performance review, discuss ways to improve for the future rather than trying to rewrite the past.

8- Develop a buddy system
Make a pact with a friend or colleague who has the same problem. Agree to point it out if you see him regressing to his old ways, and have him commit to doing the same.

9- Write yourself a contract
Jot down all your short- and long-term goals, along with set deadlines for reaching them. Date and sign the agreement, and have a witness (perhaps a good friend) sign it too. Seeing your goals in writing might have more of an impact on you, especially if you have a "buddy" checking up on you regularly.

10- Ask for collaboration
Invest your energy into finding solutions instead of creating justifications. If you're always late for your car pool, ask a fellow commuter for a wake-up call each morning. When your friends complain that you're always late for parties, laugh and ask them to invite you a half-hour earlier. If you need to, you can even seek help from a professional motivator or attend a seminar.

There's no excuse
Your health and well-being are your own responsibility. You have choices in life, and you're entitled to choose to find excuses for yourself, to blame other people and to sound paranoid. But you'll be happier and healthier if you opt for honesty, integrity and confidence.

How you react to external events is one of the things that will form people's impressions. It's never too late to improve your image. Show your willingness to change by eliminating this bad habit and becoming more dependable. Start creating solutions instead of excuses. It takes time and effort to change a habit, but it will be worth it.

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