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No More Excuses By Betty Mahalik

What if you woke up this morning to find that someone had removed from your mind all of your excuses? What if there were no "if onlys" or "when this happens, then I cans" floating around in your head? What if, instead of the story about why you can't do whatever, followed by all of the reasons and explanations for your previous lack of success, you heard a half a dozen reasons why you could be successful, followed by the lessons you've learned from previous attempts that would help you succeed this time around?

There is no reason we can't change the paradigm from excuses and explanations to affirmations and visions of success. The choice is ours. I recently finished presenting a three-session presentation skills training for a local business that brought this truth into clear focus. One of the participants was a walking, talking excuse-making machine, who spent more time telling me why she was going to fail, how she always forgets what she's going to talk about, etc. than she did actually doing her presentations. At one point, I stopped and asked her a question that seemed to shut off the spigot of negative self-talk. I asked her: "So how's that working for you?"

When she started back into the same excuse-riddled monologe, I stopped her again and asked the question over. She finally realized in that moment how debilitating her self-talk was. The next week she returned and only once did I hear her revert to the old yada, yada, yada. The rest of the time she was speaking about something she really cared about, and the results were night and day different from her previous presentation. What I hope she also realized is how that on-going negative chatter affected the rest of her life: her productivity and effectiveness at work as well as her parenting abilities and certainly the model she was exhibiting for her child and co-workers.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: we can either have what we want or we can have all of our reasons and justifications for why not. Start monitoring your self-talk as well as the external messages you send out. Notice how often your internal and external conversations are filled with self-negating images of failure. And next time you catch yourself in the downward spiral, ask a question to break the pattern: "How's that working for me?" Another alternative is to quietly but firmly repeat the words, "end session" to yourself. These methods work by creating a "pattern interrupt" that derails your inner critic and gives your wise mind, the one not filled with excuses, explanations and justifications, an opportunity to reroute the conversation or at least quiet the mental din.

Imagine your life without excuses. Imagine just one day without the negative internal chatter driving you insane. You really do have a choice. Start exercising it. End session.


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