Just like the financial loss of a unattended credit card debt or an unused monthly membership, whether you realise it or not, you are paying a significant price for some of your thoughts and words.

It’s a concept you’ve probably never considered, but the payoff is huge.

Which thoughts and words?

The most expensive words you’ll ever utter are the excuses you use to rationalise not doing the things you know need to be done.

But guess what? You probably have just a few (instead of dozens) different and recurring excuses you repeatedly use to get out of doing what needs to be done. If you make a shift and eliminate those, you’ll experience a tremendous boost in progress and happiness.

The bad news? You might not be aware of these thoughts and words in the moment because they seem so natural, so appropriate and so accurate and rational for what you feel. Yet, when you stop and reflect on them you’ll see them for what they are – just excuses that give you permission to stay in your comfort zone.

What’s more, you’ve probably been nurturing these excuses for so many years that they’ve become ingrained in your psyche and happen in a flash — stopping you in your tracks, and shutting down your growth without you even noticing what’s happened.

Understand this: These thoughts and words are preventing you from getting what you want. 

Said another way: these are the excuses that are keeping you from your dreams; that create chronic internal conflicts (which pull your heart, head and gut in three different directions); that shatter your confidence and self-esteem; that train you to play smaller than you are capable of; that zap your energy and optimism for your life.

Yes, it’s true, these little thoughts and words are that costly and dangerous.

The good news? Once you see – and accept – these words for what they are, they lose their power over you and you stop thinking away your success. Which means you achieve and become much more when these thoughts disappear.

So, what should you do about this?

Do not to place judgement on yourself. Simply start your log with “I’m noticing that I usually/often/sometimes…

Awareness is always the starting point so I strongly encourage you to start making notes, keeping a log of the excuses (…you may find you’ve been calling them ‘reasons’…) you use for not doing what you know you should do. Take regular notes, or put it in your journal, or create a ‘draft’ email you can quickly open and jot them down, whatever works for you to capture the thought in the moment. But don’t try to be perfect, just start doing it and adapt as you go.

Stop the cycle of excuses and take this small action now – don’t put this off – do this for yourself.  This is too important to delay.

Another key point is not to place judgement on yourself. Simply start your log with “I’m noticing that I usually/often/sometimes…” Just capture what you notice on reflection and reject the temptation to rationalise your rationalisation of these thoughts.

Over time, and possibly quite quickly, you’ll realise you have your own personal ‘choice excuses’.

Why do you set an early alarm and hit snooze for an hour? 

Why do you bring your workout clothes to work but never make it to the gym? 

Why do you not pick up the phone and ask for the sale instead of hiding behind the safety curtain of email? 

Why don’t you tell your partner how you really feel when he/she does that?

Your excuses will be personal to you, but they here are some thought starters to help you recognise them:

  • If I don’t check my email one more time before going to bed…
  • I can’t start ______ until I am totally organised…
  • I can’t start saving until I make more money because….
  • I’ve done enough today already…
  • I need to be more prepared before I…
  • Only when things calm down at work can I….
  • I know this food won’t help me achieve my health goals but I deserve it because…
  • I never have enough time to….
  • I’m too tired to do this now, I’ll do it tomorrow when I feel better…
  • My relationship will improve when they….
  • And so on…

You don’t need a list that long, and you’ll quickly realise there are 3 or 4 excuses that come up the most often.

The next step, once you’ve identified your ‘choice excuses’, is to remain highly sceptical of their truthfulness and to challenge your automatic response to them. You now recognise them as excuses that prevent you from making real progress. You now are able to loosen their grip on your behaviour. YOU now have the power to make better decisions and take more purposeful action that will lead you closer to your dreams.

So the next time they surface, flip these excuses of why you can’t into reasons of why you MUST take action now if you are going to achieve the success you desire.

Leave a comment below to share what you learned from this and what excuses you now see are holding you back. We’d love to hear from you.