10 Flimsiest Excuses For Not Taking Action

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. Often, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:

I don’t know how.

Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don’t push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to act.

I’m not good enough.

Not everyone has high self-esteem. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people or lack motivation. They just have a fear that they won’t be able to make good on commitments. Professional help may be warranted if self-esteem issues are a continuing problem. For most people, however, using the excuse that they’re not good enough is a stall tactic. And it will only backfire.

I didn’t have any help.

OK, so you had to go it alone and could have used some assistance. But did you let your boss, friend, loved one or family member know you were having difficulty and needed help? If you failed to request help, that’s on you. Don’t use lack of help as an excuse for not acting.

I was sabotaged.

Really? Is it true that your co-workers, family members, friends or others have ganged up on you to make you look bad? Sabotage at work, home, school or elsewhere isn’t all that common, although it is rather commonplace to put forth this excuse for an inability and unwillingness to act. Your less-than-stellar results should never be minimized by blaming others. That just shows you to be a small person, not very much a part of the team.

Others can do it better.

Maybe they can, but using this excuse now – especially if your boss, teacher, friend, parent or other loved one has given you the task – is just a poor way to handle the situation. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to prove your worth, show your talents and demonstrate how you can be relied upon to see the task through.

I have too many projects now.

It might be worthwhile to look at who’s responsible for all the projects you do have. Who loaded up all these items on your desk in the first place? Could it be that you did this yourself, not anticipating the kind of conflicts you’d encounter when one or more of them ran up against each other?

The way out of this dilemma is to pare projects down to the essential, stripping away what isn’t productive, necessary or time-sensitive. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

It wasn’t my fault.

After a blunder, oversight or colossal failure, you may use this excuse to deflect criticism and point to others as the culprits. It also is a weak way to get out of doing anything further, especially to rectify the mistake you’ve already made. Whether it’s a misstep at work or elsewhere, own up to your mistake and offer suggestions on how you’ll turn it around. Otherwise, you’ll risk looking irresponsible.

I’m not feeling well.

If you’re sick, you should be at home recuperating. Don’t go into work or school or bounce around town running errands, having coffee and perpetuating the excuse that you’re not well enough to tend to your responsibilities. Besides, nobody wants to be around someone who’s got a bug, is miserable with symptoms or lolling about doing nothing. They’ll resent your presence and steer clear. Worse yet, they may have to wind up doing your work as well, and that’s not going to help the next time you need their assistance with something.

Something’s come up.

The excuse that some other pressing obligation took precedence over what you’re supposed to be doing is common. It even has legitimacy to it on occasion. The problem is that too many people fall back on this white lie as a reason to avoid acting. After a few times hearing this excuse, however, the person in charge or those who are relying on you to get things done will start discounting your reliability.

This can wait until later.

When you’re really trying to get out of a project or task, throwing out the notion that this one can be put off until another time doesn’t garner any points either. It tells the person who’s looking for results that you’re a skater, someone who can’t be counted on to get the job done. Sooner or later, you’re likely to find that your procrastination costs you dearly. You could be overlooked for a promotion, others may fail to include you in activities, and your closest friends, loved ones and family members may turn elsewhere for help when something needs to be done.

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

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10 Proactive Ways to Figure Out What’s Most Important to You

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Life offers infinite variety, along with myriad challenges and opportunities. It’s easy to get lost in indecision with so many choices. You want success, yet wonder if you’re on the right path. You’d like to have balance in your life, but there are so many conflicts that you often find yourself spending energy too much in one direction.

What’s happening here is a lack of prioritization, of figuring out what in life is most important to you — and then acting upon it. While not life-threatening, a failure to identify what is most meaningful to you can erode your quality of living. To ensure that you have the most opportunities to live a full, happy and productive life, you must zero in on your key priorities. Here are some ways to do just that.

Identify the most important people in your life.

When you care about someone, they are important to you. Sometimes, however, we take loved ones, family members, friends and coworkers for granted. This does both them and us a disservice. By listing the most important people in your life, you make a conscious effort to recognize and value these meaningful relationships. Since man is a gregarious creature by nature, tending to those closest to you is a practical, effective way to make the most out of life.

Think about what you most enjoy doing.

For some, it may be arranging floral displays, trying out new recipes, walking at sunset with a loved one. Others may most enjoy sports and recreational activities, or reading books, listening to music, participating in spirited debates. Whatever you most enjoy doing is obviously important to you. It is more than passing time or relaxing. If you take the time to identify what you like doing the most, you are more likely to make room in your life to take advantage of those opportunities. In the process, besides identifying what is most important to you, you will also be acting upon that knowledge.

What qualities, skills or talents do you have?

Looking back at your life, what qualities, skills or talents would you say you have? When you were a kid, for example, were you great at marbles, ping pong, sledding, multiplication tables, spelling bees? Did you find you excelled in science or English or math? Are you skilled in carpentry, landscape design, building things, figuring out how to fix what goes wrong? Do you lose yourself in artistic expression, creating something from nothing? There is a strong likelihood that what is most important to you is deeply embedded in these qualities, skills and talents.

List your highest achievements and accomplishments.

In line with analyzing what you believe you do best, take some time to jot down the successes you’ve had. It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge accomplishment or something minor. What does matter is the feeling the result gave you. When you are proud and excited about your accomplishments, you experience joy and satisfaction in life. It is also a good hint that these are important to you.

Ask your friends, loved ones and family members to list your best qualities.

You might think you know your best qualities or strengths, but you might over- or underestimate what you’re good at. Besides, you are not very objective when it comes to self-analysis. That’s why asking those who know you best what they believe are your best qualities is illuminating. You might discover, for example, that you possess keen analytic ability, something you haven’t tapped or put to effective use. Maybe it’s your compassion that is most impressive. Or, the fact that you listen well and are supportive of others in a way that’s empowering and uplifting. Once you know what these qualities are, you can decide what, if anything, you want to do to take advantage of them. There is something here that is important to you. Perhaps asking others to help you identify them is a painless way to figure this out.

While it might be challenging, you don’t have to sacrifice a goal because it’s too difficult.

One of the saddest things to witness is someone giving up just as they are about to reach their goal. We’ve all done this, not that it’s anything we like to admit. Granted, some goals are incredibly challenging. They’re difficult, expensive, take an inordinate amount of time, or require resources and allies that are hard to come by. The secret to holding fast to a goal that seems out of reach is to parcel it into pieces. Take it apart and identify stages or steps. By focusing on the next stage instead of the end goal, it’s easier to make the effort necessary to see this phase through. Over time, you’ll pass through various stages on the way to the goal. That’s how you achieve even the most challenging goal.

You can still pursue your dreams and make ends meet.

Maybe you find yourself stuck in a job you don’t like. You took it because you needed the money and stick with it because things haven’t changed financially, or because you can’t see a way forward. It’s time to ditch this dead-end thinking and map out a plan to make changes that allow you to both pursue your dreams and take care of your financial responsibilities. It may be that you decide to back to school to get additional training or pursue or finish a degree. What you learn in the process, the people you meet, the opportunities you are exposed to can make a profound difference in your outlook. In addition, be sure to maximize your leisure and recreational pursuits. If you love skiing, schedule some ski trips. If painting is your forte, get busy creating in the medium of your choice.

Deal constructively with the depression or anxiety and may have stood in the way of doing what you want.

Fleeting sadness or anxiety is a normal part of life. The emotions, while not without pain, can motivate us to make necessary changes. Prolonged depression or anxiousness, however, will only be alleviated with professional help. Perhaps medication and/or therapy is in order. If you find that these powerful emotions are standing in the way of doing what is most important to you in life, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the help you need.

Get past the feeling that you’re not good enough.

Most of us have felt the sting of disappointment, either that we didn’t live up to our own expectations or those of someone else. Overt or covert criticism, biting or harsh comments, the gradual shifting away of friends and colleagues just adds to the sinking feeling that we’re not good enough. Yet, others don’t define us and we should never allow them to act like they can. The only way to be good enough is to believe that you are. Since no one can make you do anything and only you make the decision how to live, choose the option that’s affirmative and uplifting. Select what gives you the best likelihood of achieving the outcome you desire. Give it your utmost effort, attention and diligence. If you do the best you can do, you’ll always be good enough. In fact, you’ll be better than just good enough. You’ll be right where you want to be.

What makes you happy? Do that.

Happiness is like sunshine. It makes you feel good, envelops you in warmth, and costs nothing. Yet, how many times do you walk away from happiness and instead involve yourself in some task or activity that’s boring, uninvolving, repetitive, endless or unproductive? If you want to be happy in life, think about what makes you happy. Find a way to insert that pursuit or activity into your everyday life. It might be walking in nature, working in the garden, whipping up a culinary delight, playing with the children, making love to your partner. Whatever it is, this is something important to you, something you value highly. Be sure to do it as often as you can, with full presence of the moment and joy that you can have this experience.

 

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.

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How To Start Telling The Truth Instead Of Lies

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.” — Cervantes

 

A little-known fact is that it isn’t all that uncommon to bend the truth. People do it all the time. I know I’ve slipped and told a few whoppers. Sometimes it is to spare someone else from feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes it is to give yourself an escape from consequences you know you will encounter by telling the truth. But guess what? The truth will eventually come out, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

There is something universally appealing in this, although few would admit it. No one wants to be regarded as a liar — even though almost everyone sometimes falls into that category. The idea that little obfuscations or outright tall tales would come back to haunt us isn’t particularly attractive. While working so hard to skirt the truth — knowing full well that it is wrong, but doing it anyway — means there is some self-improvement that needs tending to.

Think of the biggest lies in history and how they eventually were unmasked. The world is flat was debunked. Men are superior was called into question. “I’ll call you” is universally discredited. Big lie or little, as Shakespeare’s quote in “The Merchant of Venice” so aptly reveals — “the truth will out.”

If you accept that truth has more value than lies and acknowledge that it is going to come out anyway, how do you begin to cultivate the habit of telling the truth to begin with? Is this something you can teach yourself to do — after years of doing just the opposite?

You can and here’s how.

Stop and think about what you are going to reveal.

Before you respond to a question, embark on telling a story, fill out an employment application or apply for a loan, pause and think what you are about to reveal. The first thought that pops into your head may be a lie, or it could be the truth, which you quickly push aside. You will know whether it is truth or lie. Being able to identify what the thought is qualifies you to make the decision what to do next. You need the time to figure out what you are going to say or do.

Prepare a truthful answer.

Prepare answers (truths) you are willing to say ahead of time so you’re not stumped when you need to say something. Let’s say you are going to a job interview and you want to appear your best. You know you will be asked about your strengths and your accomplishments. Instead of saying you saved your previous employer $100,000 by uncovering duplicate projects when you only observed someone else doing that, if it is true you were part of a team that streamlined corporate projects to maximize efficiency, say that instead. If you are not particularly innovative, talk up how you’re a hard worker that supports team efforts. If you take the time to realize your strengths, you will be able to come up with talking points that are true, not false.

Give yourself time to think of an appropriate (and truthful) answer.

If you are uncomfortable, ask for a break. Maybe the truth you tell now would cause harm, make someone unhappy, or result in your getting fired. Instead of instantly incriminating yourself, ask for a break — literally. You need some time to frame the truth so that it’s less harmful, or to summon your resources if the blowback will be serious. It is better to say nothing than to blow it completely by telling a lie that will come back to roost.

Work on your core values.

Learning to tell the truth instead of spouting lies every time you open your mouth takes patience, time and practice. Begin by addressing your core values, identifying them and striving to live in accordance to them. If you value friendship, act like a faithful friend. If you prize family above all else, put your family ahead of everything else you do. Be the person you most admire. Adopt the traits of people you respect.

Ask others for help.

No doubt you have people in your life who are familiar with your tendency to embroider the truth, to embellish stories for effect, or to keep telling falsehoods despite your best efforts to stop. Ask for their help in supporting your quest to tell the truth. Have them call you out when they recognize you telling a lie. This might smart a bit, but you need the assistance to change your behavior.

 

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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