How to Live an Excuse-free Life

If you stopped 20 random people in the grocery store and asked them what their dream is, I bet few would be able to articulate one. And I get it. It’s much easier to focus on your 87,000 daily responsibilities than to purposely add more on. I GET IT. Some of us weren’t taught to dream, some of us grew up with the message that pursuing more was selfish and Who do you think you are? While others, well, we let the dream go because life is so hectic, and we don’t have time to figure out how to make things happen.

Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Do you ever say I’m too tired, I’m too busy, or I don’t have enough time? Of course you do, you are normal. I’m sure you’ve also heard others say versions of those sentiments, too. But what if we are using these three lines as excuses so we don’t have to step out of comfort zone? So we don’t have to figure out how to go back to school or how to train for a 5k? Or what if we tell ourselves one of those lines so we don’t have to learn the ins and outs of starting a business, learning social media at 40, or how to juggle your new interests while also working and maintaining a family and relationship? That would put you in the average box.

Is that who you want to be? We only get one life, and we take it for granted day in and day out. If you have a spark inside you, something that interests you, who are you not to pursue it? Sure, you can tell yourself you will do it when the baby is five, when you get that promotion, or when you reach your goal weight, but what if we aren’t alive in three years? Is this how you want to live your life – banking on the future?

I know I’m sounding a bit morbid, but I wish I had six lives. The thing is, once you let yourself start dreaming and that excitement perpetually lives in the pit of your stomach, you can’t go back. You feel alive, dedicated, and optimistic about the future. I will not sugarcoat things, though. Anytime you pursue something new, like running that 5k, starting a business, or going back to school, it will be a roller coaster of emotions. You will feel excited, happy, and proud, but also frustrated, fearful, and doubtful. But you feel alive. And that’s a completely different feeling than when we stay in our comfort zones.

So, you have a decision to make. Which life do you want to live? Do you want to go all in and see what you are capable of and push yourself or do you want to settle for a mediocre life? Below are the three top excuses we use to allow ourselves to stay in the satisfactory column.

I’m too tired – Um, newsflash, we all are. My favorite Peloton instructor, Robin Arzon, peppers her spin classes with inspirational sayings. Once she said, “I didn’t ask if you were tired. No one cares.” That’s right. You can be tired and still show up for yourself. Life is exhausting. Regardless if you have children, a job, or a spouse, we can easily fill our days up with enough tasks to make us exhausted by the end of the day. Some tasks are legitimate, like completing a report for work to meet a deadline and some are arbitrary, like watching an entire season of a new show on Netflix in one weekend. No judgment.

I’m not making light of this. I’m tired, too. By 9:00 at night, I’m exhausted. As a high school counselor, I talk all day, so when I finally get time to sit down after the kiddos go to bed, sometimes I’m too tired to even talk. Like so tired you feel it in your muscles. Your body feels heavy, and you feel it in your throat. You need sleep. I get it. At that exact moment, you will not be productive for the rest of the night, right? Some people will tell you that if you have a dream and are working on mini goals to reach it, then you must be willing to stay up until all hours of the night to achieve it. If you work during the day and you have kids, you must be willing to go without sleep to conquer it.

That’s not me. I’m not going to tell you that. And here’s why: I need sleep. I’m willing to be many of you do, too. I don’t make good decisions, am not as patient, and don’t write as clearly when I’m tired (whoa, triple negatives). It’s just reality. Our bodies must get enough sleep to allow us to show up the next day.

So, if I’m encouraging you to pursue your dreams ON TOP of your 87,000 daily responsibilities, but also suggesting you don’t stay up until 3:00 am, how are you supposed to do this? In my article “3-Point Plan or Wellness,” I discuss the importance of sleep, and it comes with a FREE guide to help you create your own plan. First, you must figure out how much sleep you need. Everyone is different. For me, the magic number is seven. If I get any less than seven hours of sleep each night, I’m cranky and not as rested. The free guide will help you determine your perfect number.

I use the word “magic” purposefully. If you get the number of hours you need, you will be rested, like magic and can conquer more. Now that you know how much sleep you need and you will honor it, how can you accomplish everything you need to without staying up significantly later?

The answer: be strategic in your schedule. There is no way around it. You will have to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and maximize the time you have.  Example: I wake up at 5:00 am during the week to exercise and make my smoothie before leaving for work. I exercise before work because I know there is 0% chance of doing it when I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Some of you are probably nodding your head right now. Then, I do research for my blog and Follow Your Spark by listening to podcasts during the commute on the way to work, during the return route, and during half of my lunch period while I’m getting my steps in as I walk around my work building. This keeps me motivated, and I get ideas every time I listen to a show.

My dream is to be a full-time writer and speaker. My mini goals, then, include writing consistent blog posts every Tuesday, learning about SEO, and maximizing traffic to my website. Additionally, I’m facilitating a group to help people create their morning routine. I work on portions of these goals during my lunch break, for 30-45 minutes after work before I pick up my children, and for about five hours on the weekend. You must get enough sleep so that you have enough energy to show up for yourself every day. As a high school counselor, I frequently talk with students about their grades, specifically the importance of doing homework consistently. If they only do homework 50% of the time, 50% is still a failing grade. Similarly, if you only show up for yourself 50% of the time, you won’t reach your goals. Period.

Bottom Line: Acknowledge that you are using this as an excuse, treat sleep with reverence, and plan better for it. You can’t overcome this excuse without all three.

I’m too busy – No, you’re not. Let me rephrase that. I know you are busy, but you aren’t so busy that you MUST put yourself last and not pursue your dreams. Nope. Not buying it. It seems like lately everyone is saying “I’m too busy,” as if we will receive a gold star for who’s the busiest. No one is getting an award, people. You are just being a martyr. You are allowing yourself to hide behind the “I’m too busy” cloak so that you don’t have to do the hard work of sitting in the discomfort of growth.

I know, harsh, but you know if this rings true for you. Here’s the hard, cold truth: People do what they want to do. We make time for what we want to make time for. If you don’t want to do something, just be honest and say that instead of saying “I’m too busy to do it.” If you don’t want to do the hard work of exercising, that’s ok, just own it. If you don’t want to spend the time researching bakery courses, then admit that. I realize it’s easier to say “I’m too busy” because if we admit that we don’t want to do the hard work, then we must confront what that says about us.

Personal growth is hard, y’all. That’s why people make excuses! But they are just that – excuses. If you really, really want to pursue something, you will. If you are honest with yourself, there are likely responsibilities you have that can be delegated to or shared with someone else. Can anyone else take your daughter to softball for some weekly practices? Can you arrange with a neighbor so you can work at home on your new project? Can you hire a cleaning person to free up the hours every week you use to clean? If you and your partner both need to exercise every day, can you come up with a compromise and help each other with childcare? The maxim “where there is a will, there is a way” is true. You know it in your heart.

Bottom line: Acknowledge that you are using this as an excuse, map out what you can eliminate from your routine, prepare for the obstacles that could prevent your success and then plan how to overcome them.

I don’t have any time – Please, none of us has enough time, which is why we must be more strategic with the time we have. I’m so passionate about using your time wisely that I wrote an entire article about it: “I don’t have enough time.” This article also comes with a FREE guide to help you reflect on how you use your time and how to plan better.

If you have a goal, you must do two things: Make more time and be smarter with how you use it. Can you wake up an hour earlier each morning to work on your goal? Use that hour as writing time, research, exercise, or whatever you can toward your goal. Notice I didn’t ask you if you want to because no one wants to. But can you? You know in your heart that you can do it. I promise that if you wake up an hour earlier and focus only on your goals, you will feel like you suddenly received the gift of time. This time, like sleep, needs to be treated with reverence.

The only time you can build a sustainable morning routine, though, is by having an effective nighttime routine. That means you need to go to bed earlier, too. Maybe you are reading this and thinking, I am not going to bed earlier. That’s the only time I have for myself. I GET IT. That’s the only time I have to relax with my husband each night, too. I understand, friend.

Flip the script, though. Your “me time” at night will become your “me time” in the morning, and I guarantee your morning routine will be more productive for your life. You will feel powerful and have a different perspective on how to use your time. You will feel more in control of your life and find it easier to make time for goals because you are building your self-confidence.

I’m not saying don’t spend any time with your significant other at night. I’m saying that if you have a goal that excites you, you can still spend time with him or her, but cut it a little short. Instead of staying up until 10:30 and falling asleep around 11:15, what if you were asleep by 10:15? These are choices. We control our decisions.

Bottom line: Acknowledge that you are using this as an excuse, reflect on how you use your time, make more time, and be strategic.  Refer to the FREE guide that comes with my article “I don’t have enough time.”

What’s it gonna be? Which path are you going to choose? I’m writing this article while sitting on my backyard patio, watching my son play with the neighbors. They are going back and forth between yards, playing swords, and living it up on the playground set. My son took a quick water break, and we chatted about how this has been a fun-filled weekend for him between earning his yellow belt in Taekwondo, a playdate with a friend, swimming at my parents-in-law, and now this. You know what he said to me? – “You only have one life.”

Indeed.

Did today’s topic resonate? Did one of the excuses strike a chord? Do you think you use these lines to prevent growth? Comment below in the comments!

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