[Caution : This post adopts a tougher tone than usual.  Read only if you can tolerate being spoken to directly.]

It’s DAY FIVE.  Have you heard the excuses yet?

“I don’t feel like it.”

“I’m sick.”  (well, this one could be legit…)

“I don’t have time today.”

“My gym clothes are in the wash.”

“It’s too cold out.”

“It’s too hot out.”

“I have to get groceries.”

“I can’t find my shoe.”

Let’s be up-front about it; if you are trying to get more physically fit, or are starting a new wellness habit, you will be your own worst enemy. Yeah – I’m talkin’ to YOU! Well, and ME!

YOU, and I, have to find a way to overcome whatever our normal routines and habits are if we are going to make any positive changes. This process will definitely interfere with how we currently do life, and so I’m going to be that guy – that guy that just says, “Deal with it.” To quote one of my buddies, “How do you like me so far?”

No apologies for that. Today’s blog is about dealing with the reality that we can throw an almost infinite number of smokescreens in the way of our own progress. But how often do we actually admit it? If you’re like me, the answer is probably “Not very often.” It’s easier to let an excuse influence our decision-making, and sway us OUT OF doing our challenge activity. I’m not taking about valid reasons here, such as a legitimate physical illness, condition, or injury. Or an unplanned event which barges into our planned schedule. Those things happen, and I’m not going to be that guy (the other that guy) who exercise-shames. I have no use for that. I applaud anyone who tries to better themselves. Truth be told, I am more interested in the effort a person makes than in their actual results.

What I am trying to put in the cross-hairs today are those excuses which interfere with our intentions. Intentions are great, but they’re about as useful as an empty toothpaste tube. [Remember that visual image when you hear an excuse coming out of your mind…]. Unless we find ways to operationalize our intentions – to make them happen – they are just nice thoughts or words. Don’t you just love it when you’re around people who always make lots of promises that, somehow, just never get fulfilled. And there are probably lots of “reasons” (sarcasm intended) that make it all so unfortunate but understandable…

Classroom teaching sensitized me to excuses, because every time you ask students to do a task, you will hear many excuses for why it didn’t happen. I used to roll my eyes and scoff and get all bent out of shape about it, but then I began to notice times when I would make excuses. Not my proudest moment. It’s hard to be critical of someone for doing the same thing you do yourself, eh? And at the root of it all, I believe, is the idea that, somehow, if the excuse is good enough, I won’t be responsible for my failure to achieve. It won’t actually be a “failure”.

I am trying to get better at detecting my own excuses, and then not allowing myself to hide behind them. I know people who have pretty good reasons for not doing things they committed to, and yet they still accomplish the task. That is inspiring. I’m not sure specifically why that is, but there is something admirable about a person whose word is solid and reliable.

So don’t fall into the habit of making excuses for sub-optimal performance. Make a plan. Give the best effort you can muster. Expect the excuses to flood in as you try to accomplish your February challenge. But now that you know better, don’t give in to them. Stay the course!

P.S. If you have (or have heard) a great excuse – email it to me.  If I get some good ones, I’ll compile a list.