Excuses. We have all made them at one time or another. Some people are more gifted than others in this department. Are you or do you know someone who breaks promises, places blame on others, or does not take responsibility for personal behavior? Always procrastinating? Never on time? Known for missing appointments? And then offers up a million and one excuses? No one wants to count on someone who is not accountable.
According to the dictionary, making an excuse means “to explain a fault or an offense in the hope of being forgiven or understood.”
Excuses are comfortable lies we tell ourselves so that we can avoid responsibility. They are cleverly engineered traps. And we fall into them regularly.
Chronic excuse-makers are nothing more than habitual liars, not only to others, but to themselves.
Making excuses can have a detrimental effect on your reputation, your life, your career, and your relationships. The more excuses you make the more likely you will be labeled as undependable, defensive, or paranoid. People will begin to lose respect, especially if they can’t trust you.
For many years, I worked with someone who habitually missed appointments that he himself scheduled. Staff members would show up at his office only to be told to wait. And wait. And wait. He was a no-show ninety-five percent of the time. The other ten percent of the time, he’d show up late only to reschedule the appointment, and he’d pull the no-show act again. This frustrated people because he disrespected their time and worth. There were times when we actually conducted committee meetings without him, even though he organized them! Then he’d make his grand entrance with his grand excuses as if he were the only one with a busy schedule. One time he emailed me to meet with him. I purposely did not show because of his track record. When I ran into him a few days later, he apologized for not making it to the meeting, to which I replied, “Neither did I.” Do unto others…
He wasn’t too pleased, but he got the point.
Did it change him? No. He’s still the same even though a number of people have confronted him on the issue.
If you find yourself constantly making excuses for your behavior, it’s time to change, and the solution lies within your control.
First, confront yourself. Admit that you make excuses. Take a long, hard look at your excuse-making behavior and resolve to change it. It’s not going to resolve itself until you take positive, corrective action.
Second, develop a plan of corrective action for yourself. For each offense that you have committed, write down what you can do to correct it. For example, if you are typically a late-arriver, be courteous and let people know your status so they are not left wondering and stewing. If someone tells you to be somewhere at 10 a.m., write it down for 9:30 a.m. Have a friend witness your plan of action to hold you accountable.
Third, take the heat without blame. Learn to apologize without giving a dissertation of an explanation. Take ownership of your behavior. Of course, don’t let habitual fault-finders try to undermine your confidence as you reinvent your attitude.
Fourth, quit with the complaints. Complaining isn’t going to get you out of the mess you’ve created. Taking responsibility will.
Fifth, find solutions instead of creative justifications. Set up a system to remind you of important tasks, meetings, and get-togethers.
Sixth, ask for help. Put your faith in a higher power that will guide you. Doing self-work is not always easy. Surround yourself with a support system. If you need professional help, seek it by all means, especially if it means saving your relationships.
Taking the steps to confront excuse-making opens up a door to a new you as you reinvent yourself. When you put a personal plan in place to help you remain accountable, you’ll find your life changing for the better.