About two years ago, I wrote down all the excuses I made for not completing a task or project. It was a short 2-day experiment. Yes, I was that bored.
Initially, I just wanted to see what excuses I made most often. What I learned however was much more profound than “how many times do I blame the weather”.
My list of excuses changed my life forever.
I already knew I was good at making excuses. I can be a professional excuse maker if I really put my heart to it. What the list showed me though was how poor I was at taking ownership over my life.
Some of the excuses I made were valid. It was traffic. My contact replied late. My proposal was rejected. These were things I didn’t fully have control over. But was there something I could have done differently? Absolutely. I could have left earlier. I could have followed up. I could have made a better proposal. A little more effort could have spelled the difference between success and failure. I was more in control over the events in my life than I realized. Applying this ownership comes with two tasks.
First, you must embrace the fact that there really are things you cannot influence. No amount of rain dancing will stop the weather. No amount of honking (or swearing) will make the traffic move faster. We get so obsessed with wanting to change the unchangeable that we end up angry or disappointed. This is useless. The unchangeable will stay unchangeable. Fact. Learn to accept it.
Second, you must also realize that in any situation there is always something you can do. Always. I cannot stress this enough. Your efforts may seem futile but there is always room to take action in whatever capacity. This may seem to counter the first point but it really doesn’t. You can’t change the environment you’re in but you can choose how to navigate through it. You can’t always predict when problems come up but you can always decide how to respond to it.
Thanks to my list, I’ve stopped blaming the situation and started working on my reaction. It’s honestly one of the most important things I’ve ever done for myself. Learning to let go of my obsession with the unchangeable has allowed me to do more. The control I was able to regain has been instrumental to my success and happiness thus far.
So the answer to bad traffic, late replies, and rejected proposals? Stop making too many damn excuses! Take control over your life.