It is no secret

When you were a teenager, did you always sit as close to the back of the room as you could in class or church or even at the movies? Most of us did, probably to avoid the attention of teachers or other adults.

by Kathy Gates — 

When you were a teenager, did you always sit as close to the back of the room as you could in class or church or even at the movies? Most of us did, probably to avoid the attention of teachers or other adults.

And as you grew older, did you find yourself sitting in the back of conference rooms or seminars? That habit probably did not get you noticed for promotions or earn you a reputation as a go-getter.

If you think about it, you will find many things like this in your daily life. Most of what you do on a daily basis is not the product of a deep, dark psychological reason. It is just a habit. And that habit may have worked for you at one time. But if that same habit is not helping you today, then it is time for a change.

A common habit is making excuses. If you had a parent who let you get away with things or get out of work because of your excuses, it is likely you learned this behavior well. Very well.

The good news is that you “learned” it, which means you can un-learn it. More accurately, you can learn to replace that behavior with something that better serves you today. (By the way, your parents were not doing you any favors by letting you excuse your way out of responsibility. Keep that in mind when modeling behaviors for your own children now.)

Making excuses instead of taking action, and its best friend, complaining, are nasty habits. Remember when your toddler was old enough to ask for what he wanted — juice, a toy, to be picked up — but since his language skills were still developing, he often would just give in to frustration, sit down and cry.

Imagine yourself as a big toddler who has given up and is sitting in the middle of the floor, throwing a tantrum, making excuses, pointing fingers and complaining. Do you know that is how other people see you? Not exactly what you had in mind, is it? You probably would not want to hire or befriend a person who behaved that way, would you?

Want more good news? You have the power to change this behavior! It is not some deep, dark psychological secret. It is just a behavior, a habit. It is an automatic response, not a conscious one. It can be changed, the same way you stopped biting your fingernails.

It just takes some practice to begin teaching yourself to ask for what you want instead of complaining and blaming, to take action instead of making excuses. The process may be more challenging in one way — but the results of being seen as an adult, of accomplishing things that make you feel good, of being known as a get-it-done person instead of a never-finish person — aren’t those all worth a little work?

And you know what else is buried under all those excuses? Self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-confidence.

Stop making excuses. Stop procrastination. It is just that simple. And you thought it was a big hairy secret, didn’t you?

 

Kathy Gates is a professional life coach in Scottsdale, Ariz., who helps people deal with the stress of everyday living in a more organized and efficient manner. She is the author of several e-books and e-courses. 480-998-5843. www.reallifecoach.com. 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 2, April/May 2006.

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