Why Making Excuses Is Killing Your Chance of a Successful Life

Why Making Excuses Is Killing Your Chance of a Successful Life

Several years ago a friend and I had a great business idea.  We sat together and brainstormed for a couple months, developed a plan and set a date for our launch.  We had our product in hand and it was a good product.  It was spring 2007 and the possibilities of the future made it an exciting time in my life.  My visions of success would finally allow me an escape from the golf business, money and leisure time.

I could already feel the island breezes through the palm treezes!

Woman in red bikini relaxing on palm tree in the Caribbean
image credit: matteocolombo.com

Then, while on vacation in West Palm Beach, I noticed a quarter-sized numb spot on the bottom of my right foot.  It felt funny when I walked, but presented no other issues so I didn’t put too much thought to it.

I left my Florida vacation on a Sunday morning and received a phone call from my mom that a good friend of mine had be shot and killed while on duty for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.  I cried the entire way home.  SC and I had not talked in a few years, but throughout our teen years we were like peas and carrots; inseparable.

It would take several weeks of crying for life to start getting back to “normal.”  It was during this time that I noticed the numbness had spread and now my entire foot and part of my right leg was numb.  When i say numb, imagine the feeling you get when you’ve sat on your leg and it falls “asleep.”  I decided to visit one of the members of the country club who had worked as a podiatrist for 40 years.  He examined me and recommended I go see a neurologist.  His speculation floored me: multiple sclerosis!

My thoughts went immediately to Anette Funicello as she was the only example of MS that I knew.  I investigated the disease online, freaked out a little, then got my head right and started the search for a neurologist.  While this was going on, my business partner and I still had a business launch waiting in the wings!  We had product produced and it was waiting for me to sell.

Long story short, I was ultimately diagnosed with a disease called transverse myelitis,  a fancy term for sick spine, which would serve as my precursor to multiple sclerosis.   My right leg was numb to the shin, I was experiencing a lot of shooting “flash” pains in my legs, arms and hands.  It was a scary time as I thought my life was finished and I should start picking out the fabric, style and color of my wheelchair!

One regret I have inside me is the truth of knowing I used my medical issues at the time as a excuse to dodge the challenge of starting that business.  Up to that point I was excited, full of enthusiasm and scared out of my mind!  So when T.M. came along I had my out; and I took it.  After all, who was going to argue with me??  All of my friends were in shock and we had no clue what was really going to happen!  Who knows where my life might have ended up?  It might have failed miserably.  I will never know.

What I do know is the chains of excuse making can be very powerful.  Once you make backing down a habit, it becomes easier and more probable to continue to do so!

Wikipedia describes making excuses as follows:

In psychology and logic, rationalization or rationalization (also known as making excuses[1]) is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable – or even admirable and superior – by plausible means.[2] It is also an informal fallacy of reasoning.[3]

That’s a fancy way of explaining how we get scared or feel inferior or incapable and instead of facing a challenge we back down and rationalize our retreat.  “I would go workout, but my back hurts.”  I would go back to school and complete my degree, but I’m too old.”  “I wish I could start my own business, but I don’t have enough money.”  “I would volunteer at the nursing home, but I don’t have the time.”  I would start eating healthier food, but it just costs so much.”  I could list enough excuses to fill 10,000 books!


We makes excuses for a few basic reasons:

  1. They make us feel better about ourselves.
  2. Ignoring a problem is easier than making change.
  3. Failure makes us feel insecure and making excuses helps cover up our mistakes.
  4. We don’t like to admit the truth about ourselves and excuses help us maintain how others view us.


Ultimately, you either die making excuses, having lived a life full of regret and missed opportunities OR you admit to yourself and others that you abuse making excuses and determine that you are going to change your habits.

image credit: thesameffect


What I do to try to overcome excuse making is to take action immediately when my mind says not to do something.  As some of you have read, my wife Evelina is from Poland and I have recently taken up the challenge of taking Polish lessons.  I bought the Pimsleur Approach (highly recommend) and take my lessons right in my home.  Yesterday I needed to check “Polish lesson” off my to-do list and my mind said “let’s just do that later.”  I immediately did the opposite and thanked myself 30 minutes later.

Once again we come back to lifestyle habits!!  Designing your life does not happen by chance, it takes tremendous focus and effort to develop positive habits.

Pay attention to your speech patterns.  Do you make statements about things you want or wish to do and follow that up with “but?”  Often, what follows the “but” is the excuse.  If you have doubt then go ask a friend who will tell you the truth.

If you use excuse making, chances are others around you realize it; you are not fooling anyone but yourself!  This is the most honest article I’ve written and it was difficult to do so.

What I ask in return from you is to be honest with yourself about your ability to do more with your life and the excuses you might be using that keep you from excelling.



43 thoughts on “Why Making Excuses Is Killing Your Chance of a Successful Life

  1. My life long excuse is buried deep inside; fear of failure. My childhood was somewhat negative and though I’ve pretty much repaired all the damage done by the violence and negativity of my earliest years, for me it seems that the early programming is so deep it’s ingrained still fghting my ‘stopping myself’, but boy it sure makes life hard. LOL

    1. Early programming is tough to deal with. It’s always there no matter what you achieve, regardless of how hard you work to overcome it! It’s almost a second “mind” there to cause conflict when allowed.

    1. I love that simple quote. Funny how those little sayings stick in our mind out of thousands of words that person might have said. I turned in a term paper late in college and provided my excuse at which time my professor told me “a crisis on your part does not constitute one on mine.” I have never forgotten his words.

  2. I like the way that wise old Jedi Master, Yoda, summarizes it. Do or do not, there is no try. Using an excuse is like saying, “I’ll try” while knowing that you won’t.

    1. Coach…there is nothing that annoys me more than when I hear someone say “I’m trying to do _____.” I just want to strangle them. And funny note, when I read your comment I did read it in my Yoda voice. lol

    1. Thank you for reading! I wrote this post a while back and it was tough for me to write. It was the first time I had been brutally honest with myself and at the same time published it for the world to read. lol

  3. I’m going through a stressful time at the moment and I woke up at my usual 5 am, I said to myself, I will workout later. So, I set my alarm for 5:30…then 6…then 6:30…and then I had to go to work without completing my workout. I feel VERY crappy right now, but that is not a reason to make excuses about working out. In fact, working out is something that probably would have made me feel better.

    You’re right that “later” often becomes “never” and as soon as we have a thought to do something, we really should get it done before it gets to the “never” point. I would love to go home and workout now, but unfortunately I’m trapped at work, lol. However, as soon as I get home, I’m getting my butt downstairs and doing some cardio, no excuses.

    Thank you for the reminder. I’m the only one to be hurt by the excuse I made this morning, and that’s not doing me any favours.

  4. I hit send too soon. I should also say that sometimes we do have to be kind to ourselves. I think it sounds like you were dealing with something terrible and you were probably going through a myriad of emotions. Sometimes, it’s not an excuse but actually an admission that you have enough on your plate and you really can’t handle anything else. There is a huge difference between “can’t” and “won’t.”

    That’s my public service announcement to you: don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re awesome!

    1. Why thank you for your kind words. I did have a lot going on at the time. I still use that example inside my own noggin as a friendly reminder to be diligent.

  5. I know you wrote this post a few days ago, but it couldn’t have caught my eye at a better time. It has made me assess a few of my own habits/excuses. Thanks for the good read!

    1. These are the moments that keep me inspired to keep doing what I do. When someone reaches out and lets me know how a post helped them or motivated them. It just makes this blogging thing so special!!

  6. You are so right! I think excuses will always be there. It’s easier to find an excuse than to do what you need to. We just have to find a way to chase them away and get things done. Do what we should be doing and realizing that it’s all up to us. No one will come and do it for us.

    1. I have a saying that I use often…”If you are capable of more, you should expect more.” Push yourself to the limits and find out what you are made of. Some people are capable of more than they give themselves credit.

  7. Reading through your recent posts is inspiring me more and more to make my dreams a reality. I sincerely thank you for the encouragement you are giving me and I am sure to many others;)

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