No More Excuses!

Happy New Year! It’s the time yet again when we have a chance for self evaluation and to determine what behaviors and attitudes from our past, no longer suit us. Yep, New Year’s Resolution-time is upon us! As a means of lessening our chances for failure, many of us have opted out of setting New Year’s Resolutions altogether. I, too, was headed down that road. I was planning to forgo setting resolutions this year, and instead just ‘focus on changing the things I want to change’. Which is basically the same thing, so why not just call them resolutions?

Well, like a lot of people, in the past I have declared my resolutions and shared them with others, only to hang my head in shame a few months later when I had not accomplished my goal. So I rationalized that if didn’t call them resolutions, nor broadcast them, if I failed, I would have no one to be ashamed in front of and no one to hold me accountable for not reaching the intended goal.

But I knew that was just the cowards’ way out, so I decided to face my past failures head on in hopes of finding out what had caused me to be unsuccessful. I decided to get to the root of the problem, address it and move on. In my analysis, I have found, my failure had nothing to do with whether or not I called them resolutions, nor did it have to do with others holding me accountable. It all boiled down to me letting myself off the hook and creating excuses for not following through with actions which would ultimately lead to my success. So I said to myself,“Sunshine, no more excuses!”

In the past I easily came up with excuses, disguised as legitimate reasons, not to reach my goals. For example, I have decided multiple times to make health and fitness an integral part of my life and not just something I do before an event to look good. I would resolve to workout consistently and eat a well balanced diet. However, after a couple weeks I would be back to eating junk and not exercising. My excuses would include, not having the time, not having the energy, not really caring how I looked anyway, not having workout clothes, not having an ipod, wanting to eat whatever I wanted, and so on.

The excuses would not come all atonce, but instead one at a time. They would inconspicuously enter my mind when the going got a little tough. At each ones appearance, I would rationalize it.  Instead of seeing them for what they were-excuses keeping me from following through- I would see them as legitimate reasons. Instead of immediately dismissing them as an option, I would let myself off the hook “For today, because…” Before long, days would turn into weeks, I would have rationalized and accepted all of the excuses as truths, and I would find myself completely thrown off course. Inevitably, I would get to a point where I wouldn’t even bother to make excuses because I had flat out given up.

But this time around, having assessed my past failures, I am taking steps to let the excuses go and overcome them. So, here we are a few days into the New Year and I will admit it, I made New Year’s Resolutions! One of them is to make health and fitness a regular part of my life. To slim down to my target weight and maintain it all year. The way I plan to accomplish this is by exercising a minimum of three days a week and maintaining a healthy diet in which I cook the majority of the meals I eat.

I now know that any and every good reason I come up with, to not follow through, is nothing more than an excuse. An excuse attempting to plant a seed of distraction and grow into a full grown stumbling block. I have made some decisions/conclusions about my past experiences, decisions/conclusions which I will use to overcome the tendency I have to make and fall for excuses.

1.      (1)  I acknowledge that no reason (aka excuse), whatsoever, is acceptable for me not to follow through on my plans for accomplishing my goals. Before I even begin to rationalize the excuse I will immediately shoot it down as not an option. I know, that no matter what may come up as a potential obstacle to following through on my plan, it is something I have a choice in overcoming.

 If the excuse, I have no i-pod, enters my mind. I will say to it, “So what! Sunshine, are you willing to come to yet another year, without accomplishing this goal because of an ipod? Really? How serious can you be about this if you are willing to not workout all because of an unnecessary comfort?”

2.      (2) Never let myself off the hook. Ever. Even though there are many things in my life I have to juggle, working out and fitness is just as important. So there is never a good reason to let myself out of working out. If I am going to be success this time, I have to be willing to hold myself accountable. I cannot rely on anyone else. I am the only one who can make this goal happen or not happen. I have to follow through.

I can never allow any reason to take root in my mind and make itself look tempting. So, yes, I could sneak and drive to a fast food restaurant and have a burger, fries and sugar filled soda. No one would have to know, but I would know. And since I am living my life for me and achieving this goal for me, I will not let myself off the hook by sneaking to do it. The person I am accountable to would be there, and therefore I couldn’t do it anyway.

3.      (3)  Use the disappointment over past failures to remind me why this time is different.The truth of the matter is, I have failed in the past because I really didn’t want to accomplish the intended goal in the first place. Not really. Why do I say that? Because when I really want to do something I do it! I make a way, find a way, and create a way. So the fact that, in the past I have allowed myself to not workout, get in shape or eat healthy, was because I didn’t want it badly enough. If I allowed myself to eat the burger and fries every day, I was really saying that my immediate satisfaction is more important to me than my long term results. And what I really wanted was to be satisfied right now!  I did not have the discipline to think about the future. I was too weak to think beyond the craving. I wanted to stay where I was (which was in my comfort zone) and just not make it.

So this time around I remember all my past failures. I remember how when it was all said and done, I felt like a failure and I was a failure. I remember how disappointed I have been in the past when I have failed, and that motivates me to keep with it. Do I want to be a failure this time? No. Do I want to look back over this year, at the end of it and say that I reached my goal? Yes. So that means I have to push through the distractions and just do it. Getting in shape does not happen overnight (neither does any worthy undertaking), it is a work in progress so all I have to do is stick with it. Decision by decision day by day and before I know it, if I keep making the next right decision, I will reach my goal.
 If an excuse comes up and manages to sneak past my “excuse detector” I will decide to not let it be a reason. I mean come on now, enough with the excuses, either do it or don’t but I will not lie to myself by saying I didn’t reach my goal because (insert excuse here). The truth is, if I do not reach my goal it is because I didn’t want to in the first place. I decided to fail and so I did. I am in control of me, no one else. An excuse is a justification of why I am allowing myself to fail. Period.

So in 2011 no more excuses for me. What about you?

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