Excuses, Excuses

"Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure." -Jim Rohn

Running has always put me in my happy place. 

I am one of those people who get a shit-eating grin after a good run and get a runner’s high. I sort of float around thinking the world is made out of fairy dust and unicorn magic. Running is where I get my best ideas. Running gives me more energy, relieves my stress, and gets my feel-good endorphins pumping. 

Running is such an important key to my happiness, that loved ones in my life have been known to suggest I go for a run when I show up a little less than happy.

It’s curious, then, that despite my love for running, I haven’t been running as much in the last few weeks.

If you asked me why, I’d give you what I think are some very good reasons: I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m tired. I’m so busy. I don’t have enough time. My running clothes are dirty. I need new sports bras. I already washed my hair.

A laundry list of excuses. I’ve already washed my hair? I mean, come on.

The truth is, I hadn’t been prioritizing myself, and I hadn’t been prioritizing running. I had made a choice not to run and wanted to feel better about it, so I made myself a few nice-sounding excuses. 

At the end of the day, this isn’t about if I should or shouldn’t be running, or where I should be placing my priorities (we can chat priorities and values another day). It’s about the lies I was telling myself to make myself feel better.

Who hasn't been there?

Excuses are a form of self-protection. It feels much better to whine about being busy than to cop to the fact that I haven’t been prioritizing myself. 

And, what’s so bad about that? After all, it’s making me feel better. 

In some circumstances a little excuse here and there can actually serve us well. Research from the University of Florida points to the benefits of excuses boosting our self-esteem and lowering our anxiety and depression.

Before you get all gung-ho and excuse-happy with these findings, the same research points to excuses leading to worse performance.

While excuses might be a way to soften the blow of possibly hurtful news and to protect our self-image, they don’t do much for us when it comes to our performance. It isn’t just our performance that suffers. A new study indicates that making excuses before we perform an activity as a way to explain our potentially poor results is linked with lower motivation and achievement. 

Excuses don’t help us get better. 

I might have felt better about missing my runs, but all of those excuses didn’t do much to help me get back out there and go for my run.

Charles R. Synder, one of social psychology's leading theorists calls making excuses "self-handicapping" in this article for The New York Times.

Excuses cause us to shift the responsibility in our lives and place blame outside ourselves. 

Taking responsibility isn’t always so fun (it's up there with paying taxes). Instead of taking responsibility for our actions (or inactions), we place ourselves in the role of victim when we make excuses. When we make an excuse and place blame, we also remove the belief that we are capable of creating a change. This is where the vicious cycle can start.

Except, it’s no one else’s fault. In my case, no one else made me not run. Excuses hide the truth of what’s really happening. As long as we make excuses, we remain stuck. 

Our excuses become the story we tell ourselves as to why everything is the way it is in our life. It’s a pretty nice setup, actually, because this way we don’t have to take responsibility for anything.

If we really want to change, if we really want the things we say we do in life, we have to take ourselves out of the victim role and take responsibility. We have to stop lying to ourselves with excuses...says the girl who is looking with longing at her running shoes. 

Excuses give us an easy pill to swallow and keep us from having to look deeper at our fears and motivations.

What happens if we stop swallowing that pill? What happens when we shift the blame and step out of our victim role? What happens when we decide to hold ourselves to a higher standard?

I'll leave you with this from Tony Robbins, "Remeber: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, or half-assed or fearful states."

Where in your life can you decide to stop making excuses and step into the role of ownership? As for me, I'm creating the space and time tomorrow to lace up my sneakers and go for a run. No excuses. 

xo, Kim