Excuses will always be there for you—opportunity won’t.
Think of the material, physical, emotional or academic things that you desire. Now put them down on paper in no particular order.
What do you see? Just a list of words?
Now take a second look. Do any words jump out at you? Let’s make a new list now starting with the words that leap off the page each time you look down. Put those words at the top of the list. Now look again. What stands out this time? Make another new list with those words at the top. Repeat this exercise until your list best represents the most important goals or desires to you. Take a clean sheet of paper or flip the one you have and draw a line down the middle separating pros (ways of achieving these items) and cons (a list of the reasons that are stopping you). Now review your pros vs cons. Are your cons really reasons you cannot achieve your goals or are they excuses?
Excuses can be disguised as roadblocks. However, there are frequently ways around the roadblock… if you want it bad enough.
The number one excuse is time.
There is a shortage of time always. No one ever has enough time to get to the gym, read a book, work on a hobby, cook, clean etc. But I’m going to call “bull” on “time.” Because you make time for things and people that are important. I’ve heard all the time excuses from my clients: tired, overwhelmed, kids’ activities, husband, work, commute, doctors appointments, luncheons, travel etc.
Nowadays your smart phone can tell you how much screen time you are using. You may be surprised how quickly it can add up. And sometimes when we opt to eat out instead of cook, we spend more time going, being seated and ordering than we would have had we just quickly scrambled an egg and called it dinner. My point being is that if you really start to observe how you are spending your time, you will likely find that there is more time. I personally find the best time to achieve anything at all is the time before the kids wake up. But maybe for you that time is after kids go to sleep or while they are at school. You have to find the right fit for your schedule and mindset.
I don’t want to come across preachy because I too find that sometimes my gut reaction to things or activities that make me uncomfortable is frequently the excuse of “time.” I tend to procrastinate when I think the action item is intimidating. For example, I am in the process of hiring a college financial advisor as I prepare to send my eldest off to school in a year. I will do everything else on my “to do” list first, regardless of its importance, before I make those phone calls. I know it’s necessary, but it’s also intimidating.
Quite frankly the “time” excuse works.
Who is going to argue with a single mom of three running a business? Time works every time. But that said if you offered me a free shopping spree during the same time period, I would make time. And so would you. As much as I would like a shopping spree, I, believe it or not, crave gym time in the same way. I get that I may be considered unusual and I am “ok” with that. My client load begins most mornings around 6:00 a.m. and continues until school pick up. Therefore, if I want to go to the gym, it has to happen before. Working out is a priority for me for many reasons including the fact that I actually think it feels good. Weird. I know. I make time while most of the world is still asleep. On the upside I never have a problem falling asleep at night.
I default to working out examples because that’s what I do. However, the same rules apply to nutrition, meditation and prayer, self care, hobbies and starting a business. If it is important to you, it is important enough to prioritize it. Sometimes that’s going to mean comprising today, so that you can be successful tomorrow. Sometimes your kids, spouse and ultimately your family may have to compromise too. That’s okay. Because last time I checked, you only get one chance on this earth and there is no guarantee for how long.
So you can come up with all the excuses you want, saying “some day, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year,” but that won’t achieve your goal. Guess what? Your time on this planet is equally as important as your family’s time here. Living and participating in a family is about supporting and loving one another. The greatest love you can show your family is being a happy and healthy individual, so that you are strong enough and ready to support them emotionally, physically and financially. In the end the sacrifices made will only benefit those surrounding you and supporting you.
Lori Sternberg, NASM CPT, FNS & PN1 ACE Group Ex, is a certified personal trainer and nutritional coach. She has worked with both corporate and private clients and creates individual programs specific to her client’s needs.