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I’ve been thinking  about the excuses we make to avoid the work it takes to better ourselves.

I think they fall into three categories.

1.    Know I Need To, But

2.    Don’t Know How

3.    Legitimate Excuse

That’s it.

Plain and simple, every excuse we have falls into these three categories.

We have millions of different excuses, but when it comes down to it, they’re all one of these three.

1)    Know I Need To, But

This category is a majority of excuses for most people. It is an excuse that we can say “I know that I need to, but” before it. A couple examples:

•    I know I need to workout, but John invited me to dinner tonight.

•    I know I need to eat well, but this one time won’t hurt.

•    I know I need to do this chore, but I just don’t have time.

Can you think of any excuse you’ve made recently you can say like that? I know I get unahppy when I make excuses and don’t get things done. I believe in living a life maximizing my time happy, and using excuses like this doesn’t add to that time.

What we can do instead is to just do the tasks we know we need to do. It’s not easy, but next time you hear yourself saying an excuse like this, stop that thought and switch it.

•    I wish I could go out to dinner, but I have to workout tonight.

•    I wish I could eat that pizza, but it’ll wreck everything I’ve worked for.

•    I can watch TV right after I do the dishes.

The more you make commitments to yourself a priority, the more successful you will be. Realize overriding your self commitments is no worse than skipping commitments to those closest to you.

Would you skip a meeting with the most important person in your life for an excuse like this? You should be as important if not more important, especially regarding activities that further yourself.

2) I Don’t Know How

I don’t know how holds the rest of the illegitimate excuses out there. When it comes to making life goals, we can prolong procrastination and avoid the tasks that lead to achievement just because we don’t know how.

I think this excuse is the worst excuse there is.  A lack of knowledge doesn’t hold you back from doing anything. The amount of free resources available to us today are expanding more and more every day with new websites and forums, not to mention the library.

If there is anything out there you truly desire to do, the knowledge is usually available at a very low price or even free. My personal favorites for researching a new topic are quick Wikipedia searches, browsing a relevant subReddit, or picking up a book off of Amazon.

If cost is a limiting factor, Reddit and other free forums are a huge wealth of information. I would advise crossreferencing as much as you can when researching any new topic to get the fullest understanding before you risk your health/wealth on anything.

If you don’t have the internet available (surprising considering you’re reading this), then realize there are free sources for the internet. Local libraries generally have at least a computer or two that provide internet access. Not to mention you can check out books relevant to the topic your interested in.

Dated knowledge is usually just as useful as the most up to date knowledge in most fields because they are additive. I mean that the knowledge builds on an accepted foundation and has branched out to what it is today.

3)    Legitimate Excuse

For an excuse to be legitimate, we need the power to recognize the difference between it and the previous two illegitimate excuses.

The difference depends on the urgency and importance of the excuse, a concept covered in Stephen R. Covey’s  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If an excuse is both urgent and important, then it demands your attention. Only you can determine what is important.

We tend to treat any urgent excuse as an important one and launch it to the top of our to do lists. This is a habit we can break by evaluating each task’simportance and urgency. When a family member enters the hospital for an emergency procedure, that’s probably both urgent and important. If a friend calls inviting you to dinner that night, it presents itself as urgent, but is it really important?

Evaluate each task you have on a given day with it’s importance in your life. If it is in pursuit of your more passionate goals, then it is highly important. Consider any ‘urgent’ task you can reschedule to be of lesser urgency and likely not as important.

When a friend contacts you about dinner, is there a reason you can’t reschedule? Is there a reason you have to do it tonight? Evaluate whether or not it  has to replace your personal commitments. Be honest with yourself.

When you do have a legitimate excues, allow it to take the place of whatever personal commitments if it is important enough.

Knowing the types of excuses, you can evaluate if it is legitimate or if you’re dodging your responsibility and commitments. A successful person can prioritize the important tasks into his/her day.

Written on 12/15/2013 by Derek McCullough. Derek is extremely passionate about personal development and helping others achieve success. Subscribe for more on uncovering your personal passion, living a life worth living, physical and mental conditioning and more at his Personal Development blog.

Photo Credit: vandys

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