The motto at the gym where I work out is, "eliminate excuses." It is printed on t-shirts, on the gym's website, and even on a digital billboard near my house. The billboard also says that my gym is the "Cheers" of gyms, which is pretty much true because it's small and everyone does know your name. But instead of sitting around and drinking beer, we heckle each other from our respective cardio machines.
Excuses are one thing I have absolutely no tolerance for. I spend a lot of my time talking about wellness, helping people devise plans for becoming healthier, cheering my friends along to meet their goals, and supporting my friends who are discouraged. There is almost no end to the effort that I will put in to helping someone reach a goal. But as soon as someone pulls out an excuse, my time becomes very limited. I just have no patience for people who make excuses.
Seeing the motto to eliminate excuses brings me back about 15 years to college, when I can recall chewing someone out about their constant habit of making excuses for why they couldn't do this or that. I don't remember the details, I just remember being at my wit's end, completely losing my cool, and angrily explaining that there is a difference between a reason and an excuse and that until they understood that I didn't want to hear anything about why their life sucked. I have no idea what happened after that. She probably added me to her list of people to drop a piano on someday.
That stuck with me for a long time and eventually became one of my personal mantras. I am a firm believer that we make time for what is important to us, and that the things we never get around to doing just aren't important enough yet. So when I hear that someone doesn't have time to exercise or prepare healthier meals, it's no biggie. It's just not important enough for them to find a way.
When someone says that they can't exercise because they have kids (take them with you), or because they work too late (get up earlier), or because their foot hurts (go to the doctor), or because they have a bad back (get in the pool and swim), or because it is too expensive (a jog around your neighborhood is free)....they're really just saying that it's not important enough. That's cool. Just stop complaining about being tired, overweight, and in pain until you're ready to do what is necessary to change those things.
And, when I find myself saying that I don't have to run the whole route because my knee hurts, or that I can do 12 reps instead of 15 because I am tired, or that it's okay that I didn't drink much water today because I was busy, I am quick to catch myself in those excuses and remind myself to stretch before I run, get more sleep so I can lift more, and plan better so I don't leave my water bottle on my desk before meetings.
I've been catching myself in an excuse lately, and it is bugging me. I don't like hearing myself justify poor behavior and downplay the significance of small diversions. So I am taking this chance to call myself out and remind myself of the difference between a reason and excuse - and that there are really no good reasons for bad habits.
Can we ever really eliminate excuses? Definitely! You'll be amazed how much easier your goals are to accomplish when you do. Try it today and see if you notice a difference in the number of opportunities that suddenly open and wait for you to walk through them. Just be sure to leave your baggage at the door.