The Excuse not to Try

An excuse not to try is needlessly self-limiting.

It takes a desire, bathes it in fear and tells you ‘no, don’t bother. Your efforts will be wasted’. Evidence is non-existent but your belief in it is high.

What is an excuse not to try?

It’s a weak rationalisation for not doing something you want to do. They usually take a very general form that can be applied to anything rather than specific to your personal situation.

For example:

“I don’t have time…”

“I’m going to do poorly…”

“I haven’t planned anything yet…”

There are many others of this form and there’s a reason for that. They are quite lazy and don’t assess the situation properly.

Here’s an example:

Emily wants to join her university’s football society but chooses not to because she’s never played before and doesn’t want to make a fool of herself.

We have some facts: she wants to join and she’s new to football.

However, she’s made some suspicions that are wrongly taken as fact.

Firstly, that she’ll make a fool of herself. Secondly, that making a fool of yourself is going to be bad. Nothing says she can’t continue to enjoy it. Thirdly, other people won’t be in a similar situation.

The reasons for believing these things are powerful. The image of herself running, falling and getting hit on the head with the ball are potent. They replay in her head many times becoming more powerful each time. She’s already embarrassed before even looking at the sign-up sheet.

If these things aren’t true, what other reason does she have to not try for something she wants?

None.

She can try, overcome the fear and hopefully have fun. If it doesn’t turn out the way she desires, at least she knows why rather than living with ‘what ifs’.

Excuses and Reasons

If we take these excuses seriously and put pressure on them, we find out two things.

  1. They shouldn’t stop us from trying; or
  2. They are justified as actual reasons rather than excuses

Both can be very valuable.

The first is liberating. It gives us the power to follow the things we want rather than being crippled with fear.

To end the excuses we can do a few things:

  1. Find a solution

Want to write more? Set aside 10 minutes every day.

Eat too many biscuits? Simply stop buying them.

  1. Be aware of the excuse

Knowing you’re making an excuse rather than giving a valid reason is useful. Excuses can be so automatic we never put pressure on them.

  1. Ignore the excuse and do it regardless

Put the excuse in a bubble, label it as an annoying pest and do it. There have been times when I’m writing while telling myself I don’t have the energy. Then I realise how silly that sounds.

The second is useful. It puts us in the position to assess our priorities and admit that some things are more important than others. We then put our attention towards fewer things and do a better job in the process. If your justification for not doing it becomes more specific, then it becomes a valid reason rather than an excuse thrown at a problem to avoid slight discomfort.

In short, we actually think about whether we’re being honest to ourselves.

Excuses not to try stop us from achieving things we actually want.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be that way.

We can rid ourselves of the excuse not to try and finally start making some progress.

Is there a big difference between an excuse and a reason? Are you making an excuses not to try something?

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This shouldn’t be taken as a manifesto to do everything.

There are good reasons for not doing things. For example, not wanting to smoke because of the poor health implications is not a flimsy excuse. Finding these reasons can even start us on the path to actually achieving the things we want. Being unable to travel because of money problems gives us the opportunity to start saving for it in the future.

Excuses in general are a slightly different problem. The excuse not to try prevent us from doing things we want. Excuses can also cover things we should probably do but want to avoid (like exercise). I’ll get to that another time.


In other news, I’ve rid myself of the excuse not to try a newsletter. So I made one.

You can subscribe HERE.

To start with, it’ll be about once a fortnight if I keep up my writing. I hate spam too, don’t worry.


Other stuff to read:

99 reasons for NOT making ideas happen

Let the Fear Pass

How to Kill your Excuses

Again, newsletter subscription HERE.

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