Excuses or Choices?
If you interact with the public on a daily basis, you’ve probably heard a ton of different reasons for why people do or don’t do certain things. Sometimes the reasons are worthwhile, well thought out, and very smart. Sometimes the reasons are comical and don’t make any sense. Many times reasons turn into excuses, and excuses are often the things that hold us back and keep us from becoming the people we want to be. Here is a look at some common excuses and how to turn them into choices so they won’t cause problems when trying to reach your goals.
I Don’t Have Time
Now this is one I can certainly relate to. When you work, have a family, and are involved in other outside activities, time is certainly a scarce commodity. I have also been guilty of trying to do everything myself because I felt no one else could do it as well as me. Not having enough time can also cost you in terms of money and health if you are eating out every night because you feel you too rushed to cook or if you don’t exercise or take some time for relaxation. There are only 24 hours in every day. We have to make time for the things we need to do, so we’ll have time for the things we want to do.
Make a Schedule– I admit, I never used to schedule my time at home, and I generally got nothing done because I would start fourteen things and never finish any of them. At work, we would fall apart without a schedule, and home tasks really aren’t that much different. Write down what you need to accomplish during the week and start prioritizing. I’ve found that taking care of the least fun task first often helps.
Delegate– Maybe there are some things you can delegate to others. When I worked all the time, I still felt like I had to do all the cooking and housekeeping, even though Jim got home hours before I did on many days. Finally, I asked if he could make dinner on the nights when I worked late. Guess what? He could. Maybe he doesn’t always make things I would choose, (hot dogs do belong to a food group, right?) but that’s OK, and we don’t end up having to get takeout.
Get Up Early– If I wake up an hour or two before everyone else, I can be super productive or work out without feeling Mommy guilt. It does require turning off the TV or computer so I can actually go to sleep at a reasonable hour, but it’s well worth gaining the extra time.
I Can’t Afford It
I was in line at a convenience store last week when I overheard a customer taking to the clerk about how expensive health insurance was and that he couldn’t afford it. He was buying an energy drink and two packs of Marlboros. I’m generalizing, but if he took the $15 he likely spends every day on these items, that would be over $450 a month. He looked to be about my age, and especially if he stopped smoking, that would certainly buy a health insurance policy.
“I can’t afford it” is a huge excuse that gets used to account for lots of things we don’t do; everything from buying healthy food, making a budget, funding a retirement plan, the list goes on and on. While it may be true that you don’t have enough money to buy whatever you need or want at this exact moment, you likely can afford it.
Track all of your spending-If you have no idea where your money goes, you’ll never be able to save any of it.
Find ways to lower costs or make more money-Sometimes this requires tough decisions. If your rent is eating up all of your money, you might have to move. You might have to take a roommate. You might have to sell your new car and drive a beater. You might have to tell your friends that you can’t go out with them. You might have to take on extra work or mow yards. You might even have to cut up your credit cards, but I guarantee that if you spend less that you earn, you’ll find more and more ways to afford the things that are important.
Consider every purchase-My rule for purchases is a three step process. I have three questions. Is this purchase an absolute necessity or will it add value to my life? Do I need it right now? Is this the best possible price? If the answer is yes to all three, go ahead and buy it. Otherwise, you likely don’t need it or can find a better price.
Make Choices Not Excuses
I’m as guilty as the next person of using excuses like the ones listed above, especially lack of time. In reality, we make choices, not excuses, every day. I could have time to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese, but I would probably have to cut out all other activities and save enough to spend some time immersed in China. I choose not to do this because speaking Chinese is not important to me. I could go back to work full time and make more money, but I choose not to because we have paid off most of our debt and currently have more than enough money to live on. Choices are great!
Excuses, on the other hand, are not so great. If I use the excuse that I can’t afford to pay off my credit cards because I don’t want to cut spending and change my lifestyle, then I’ll never have choices besides divvying up how much to split between Visa and Mastercard. If you use the excuse of not having time to exercise when you’re really scared of failing or that someone might laugh at the overweight person trying to jog on the treadmill, get over it and make the choice not to use an excuse.
We need to think choices instead of excuses. If you can think positively by saying I choose instead of I don’t or I can’t, it goes a long way toward getting to where you want to be. Even if you are making bad choices, realize that they are, in fact, choices. I’m sure it sounds better to say that you can’t afford health insurance instead of saying that you choose not to afford health insurance because you buy two packs of cigarettes every day, but isn’t that your choice?
What excuses have held you back? What’s the best one you’ve heard? What choices do you make every to reach your goals?