Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
By: Laura Posey


I know, you don't want to hear it again: "You're your own worst enemy", but many times it really is true. We are the reason that we don't get what we want in life. We find a way to blame something outside ourselves for not hitting our sales goals, for not taking a longer vacation, for not spending more time with our loved ones.

Summer is a great time of year for this behavior. The hot, humid afternoons sap our energy and make everything from calling to appointments harder to endure. The sunny days attract us outside to play in the yard or nap in the park (yes, I've seen some you). We rationalize our behavior by blaming the weather (it's just too hot to get motivated), the time of year (everyone is on vacation so why call?), the economy (things are so unstable in Iraq), our kids (every since school let out I'm just so tired) and anything else we can think of. The truth is that it is all us. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Sometimes I'm lulled into thinking that it's just human nature to do the least amount possible, to just get by and to rationalize it so well I don't even recognize it. But then I look at how much other people are accomplishing while some are making excuses and I know it's not human nature; it's human habit.

So many of us have a habit of rationalizing and we do it so well we don't even know we do it. It's just become a bad habit. The good news is, we can change it!! And the answer might just be in a little jar.

Do you have an excuse jar? If you don't, maybe you should. An excuse jar is a way to mentally condition yourself to change your mindset and your habits. You remember learning about Pavlov's dogs, right?

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who is remembered for his landmark experiments on conditioning in the late nineteenth century. In his work, Pavlov studied the physiological response of different stimuli on dogs prior to eating. By using classical conditioning, Pavlov was able to trigger an instinctive response to a bell that caused the dogs to salivate.

The lesson for us is that, like dogs, our responses can be conditioned. Conditioning is a form of learning. We can use learn to remove and eliminate excuses from our daily lives. This is how it works. Find a jar. One that holds about a quart or more is perfect. Make it big enough to hold stuff but not so big you can easily get your hand in and out of it. Now, make a sign or label that reads "No More Excuses" and tape it to the outside of the jar.

Now that you have the jar, you'll use it to remind yourself not to let excuses creep into your life. Every time you catch yourself rationalizing or making an excuse, put some money in the jar. The amount of money you choose to drop in each time should be large enough to make you to abstain from making excuses but small enough that it is within your means to actually do it. Five dollars is a good starting point. A dollar isn't really very meaningful and twenty dollars is probably too punitive and will make you give up too soon. Only after you have not made a single excuse for 30 consecutive days are you able to retrieve your money.

Please understand that you are to make a deposit to the excuse jar every time you fail to reach a goal and you rationalize your behavior with statements like, "I didn't have time," "The economy is bad so I couldn't reach my goals," "Betty in shipping didn't get me the information," "I'm too tired," , "It's too hot", "I just got back from or am getting ready to go on vacation" or any number of other finger-pointing rationalizations. An excuse simply means that you didn't live up to your expectations. Even if the expectations are self-imposed they count.

So, do you get the picture? To improve performance, you have to perform. To perform, you have to overcome the obstacles that hold you back, whether they be internal or external obstacles. Become who you want to be and accomplish what you want to accomplish. Banish your excuses once and for all and have a blast with your jar money!

2004 Laura Posey. All rights reserved.

- Visit us on the web at http://www.dancingelephants.net