Excuses Excuses

One of the more ridiculous aspects of human nature is the ability to make excuses. It’s a strange thing, but no matter how much we want to do something, no matter how fiercely we desire to achieve our goals, we will find every reason under the sun to not actually do anything about it. It’s why so many people resolve to lose weight but never do. It’s why people stay in dead-end jobs despite having big dreams about what they want to do with their lives. It’s why most of us can never get our houses clean, and how we end up with late payment charges on our bills. Whenever something needs doing, we just come up with an excuse for why we can’t do it right now. Whenever we find ourselves being held accountable for something we didn’t do, we just come up with an excuse for why we couldn’t get it done. Some of us are better at coming up with excuses than we are at pretty much anything else.

The most common excuse in the world is “I don’t have the time”, despite the fact that most people have hours a day of disposable time that they waste by checking their Facebook account three hundred times or obsessing over the 300th level of Candy Crush. That is far from the only excuse that people come up with on a regular basis, however. For your perusal, here are a few of the most common excuses I hear on a daily basis (many of them from the inside of my own head), and why they’re an enormous pile of BS.

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Common Excuse #1: “I just don’t have the time!”

Even though I already mentioned it I’ve gotta go with this one first, since it’s the one people spew on a daily basis. It’s all about time, or rather, the lack thereof. No one has the time to do anything, if this excuse is to be believed. We don’t exercise because we don’t have the time to go to the gym. We don’t feed ourselves properly because we don’t have the time for cooking. We don’t work towards our goals (writing a book, running a marathon, renovating a part of the house, etc) because dammit, we just don’t have the time!

It’s the first excuse that almost everyone will come up with, and as much as we feel like it’s true, it’s complete nonsense most of the time. For one thing, the overwhelming majority of us have time, but we spend it doing stupid things like playing pointless smartphone games or investigating every nook and cranny of Facebook like we’re trying to build a court case against our friends and family. For another thing, a lot of us have no sense of how to multitask. For example, say there’s a TV show that you watch every night. It’s a half hour of time that you can’t use for anything else because dammit, you worked hard all day and you deserve to sit down for 30 minutes and watch your show! That’s fine! No one is saying you can’t watch your show! But why not do some sit-ups, or push-ups, or walk on the treadmill, or practice some yoga poses while you’re watching your show? BAM! You’ve had your guilty pleasure and worked in a half-hour of exercise at the same time!

In our rush rush rush world filled with day jobs and chores and kids and all the stuff that you have to keep up on if you want to be a part of the world, it can feel like you have no time. But in reality, you just have to find those little pockets and opportunities to multitask. If you’re spending an hour a day playing Candy Crush you cannot turn around and complain that you have no time to cook yourself a decent meal. If you spend your evenings watching TV you have no right to say that you can’t find the time to exercise.

Common Excuse #2: “I’m just too tired.”

This one is closely related to “I just don’t have the time” because, again, our world today is very much about the rushing around, so we do tend to feel exhausted a lot of the time, at least emotionally. And I will allow that some people genuinely have medical issues that have them feeling tired day after day (GO SEE A DOCTOR!). Regardless, for most people this is an excuse of the highest order because it’s not fatigue…it’s laziness.

The worst offenders are people who decide to skip their workouts because they just feel too tired. I can speak for this one personally because I’ve done it a number of times. The truth is that most of the time you’re just convincing yourself that you’re tired because you don’t feel like doing anything. The great majority of the time if you just get up off your butt and force yourself to go exercise you’ll find that you actually feel great afterward.

The human mind is an incredible thing, but it lies. It will convince you that you’re too exhausted to do something that you don’t feel like doing, and yet somehow, magically, you’ll be awake half the night watching shows on Netflix or playing video games in the dark. Don’t believe your mind. Unless your body is literally collapsing beneath itself and your eyes are burning with the intensity of a thousand suns, chances are that you’re just being lazy and your brain is eager to give you a good reason to be so.

Common Excuse #3: “It’s just so boring!

This excuse is most commonly used for people trying to avoid exercise: as in, “but exercising is so boring!” It can also be used in other situations, however. For instance, someone who would rather eat fast food every night than cook something healthy for themselves might complain that cooking is too boring, or someone who requires practice to achieve a goal (learning to play an instrument, perhaps) might complain of the same.

This is just another form of being lazy because for the most part the “boring” factor can be overcome with a little bit of effort. Exercise, for instance, does not have to be boring if you’re willing to do a bit of research to find a method of exercise that you find enjoyable. Cooking doesn’t have to be boring if you’re willing to get a little creative, maybe involve a loved one or make a game out of it. If you really want to achieve something, you’ll find a way to make it a worthwhile event that keeps you interested.

Common Excuse #4: “I can’t afford it.”

Sometimes this is a valid excuse, but only in specific situations, like if want you’re trying to eat better but have been recently unemployed (healthy food is damn expensive and that’s a rant for another day). In most cases, however, this is another situation in which the excuse-maker simply refuses to put in a bit of thought. Someone who is trying to lose weight and get in shape, for instance, may whine that gym memberships are too expensive and there’s no way they can afford it. But who said they had to go to the gym? There are tons of excellent exercises that you can do right from home with little or no equipment. This is more a case of people assuming that the only way to accomplish something is to spend a ton of money. Paying for things makes us feel accountable and as though we’ve already accomplished something just because money has changed hands, but it’s a hollow victory. Save your money and look instead for ways that you can accomplish your goals without spending anything.

Common Excuse #5: “I just have no motivation at all.”

Of all the excuses out there, this one may be the worst because it is effectively saying, “I have these goals, and I really want to achieve them, but I just plain don’t want to do anything and don’t want to have to take any responsibility for not doing anything.” No matter what kind of goal we’re talking about, stating out loud that you have no motivation is the same as stating that you don’t actually care about your goal at all, because if you did that would be motivation enough. I’ve heard this excuse a hundred times, even coming out of my own mouth, and even hearing myself say it is frustrating to say the least. Don’t say that you “have no motivation.” Skip right to the honest truth: “I feel like I should probably [lose some weight/get my book published/do some work around the house/etc] because that’s what other people expect of me, but I don’t actually care enough to actually do it, so I’m just going to sit around and whine like there’s a secret ‘motivation switch’ in the back of my brain that someone flicked off while I wasn’t looking.”

What it all comes down to in the end is that excuses are only just that…excuses. If you really cared about your goals, about getting things done or making changes in your life, you would do it instead of just telling the world around you about all the reasons why you can’t manage. Because, trust me, no one really cares about your excuses. They’re too busy complaining about their own.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 30

Tuesday again, and time for some accountability. Are we really 30 weeks through the year? Wow…time flies when you’re having fun I guess. 😛

Health and Body Image Goal

I’m starting to believe that I should just strike this one from the list. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but I just can’t seem to find the time in the day for exercise. Okay, that’s a lie; I could find the time, but it would come at the expense of something else. Likely that something else would be playing video games, which is one of the only things I do these days to relax. Excuses excuses, I know. Anyone want to be my motivation? Give me a good kick in the pants?

Editing Goal

I didn’t get as much done on my supernatural romance this week as I was hoping (you’ll recall I wanted to be finished by the end of this month), but I did get a bit done, so that’s better than nothing. I’m thinking now that hoping to be finished by the end of the month was a little ambitious. I’m actually only about halfway through the story. So my new hope is to finish by the end of August. That should be enough time, I believe. I can’t wait to be rid of it, to be honest. Not because I don’t like the story, but because I’d like to be able to set one of my stories aside and say “THIS IS DONE” and not have to worry about it anymore. Well, I’ll worry about submitting it to a publisher, but that’s a whole different kind of worry.

1,000,000 Word Goal

As with above, I didn’t get as much done this week as I was hoping, but it was still pretty good. I ended the week with 10,794 words worth of blog posts, new words for my supernatural romance, and morning pages (which we’ll talk about tomorrow). This past week has brought me up to approximately 181,000 words total for the year, so I have a mini-goal for myself for this week. I’m going to try to write what I have to write to bring myself up to a total of 200,000 words. Think I can do it? I think I can. Wish me luck!

It Only Makes Sense, When You Think About It

I have never been someone who exercises. Oh sure, when I was a kid I would ride my bike around town or go swimming and the like, but I grew into a pretty sendentary adult. I’ve always been more of a mental individual than a physical one, more artistic than athletic. I’ve always liked to read and write, to play piano and guitar, and to indulge in movies and video games. I did not play sports, I never got into anything like track or gymnastics, and I absolutely loathed physical education. I just never enjoyed any of it, and even the stuff I did get into had downsides. I became a cheerleader for a while in high school, but while I enjoyed the actual routines, I hated the fitness program portion that went with it. I was into Tae Kwon Do for a couple of years and I loved the training, but I hated the warm-ups and forms and the running at the beginning of each class.

Especially, especially, I hated the running. I’ve always hated running because I’ve always been bad at it. My legs get sore so quickly, I could never seem to be able to control my breathing, and I’ve always found it just dreadfully boring. I have had people around me telling me for years that if I want to get into shape I should run, but I could just never convince myself to do it. I’ve tried a number of times, but it always came to the same conclusion: “It’s too hard, I’m no good at it, and I hate it!”

Then I tried the Zombies! Run! 5k Training app. Yes, I know, I’ve already written about this before, but this is not a shameless plug. Just hear me out. I tried the app out partly because I was trying to figure out how to work some exercise into my day, but mostly because it sounded so interesting and different. Train to run by running from imaginary zombies? Hmm. Neat. So I gave it a whirl. I didn’t honestly expect to become hooked. I am now obsessed with this program. I long to hear more of the story, I’m motivated by the playful characters urging me on, and I feel genuinely proud of myself whenever I finish a run. I’ve done other exercise programs that made me feel good about myself at the end of the workout (P90X comes to mind), but this is the first time I can ever recall being excited to start the exercise. I’ve been practically leaping out of bed in the morning, I’m actually disappointed when the run is over, and I’ve been skipping the program-designated days off because I want to keep going. Let that sink in. The program is telling me to take a day off and I’m saying, “Screw that, give me more!”

This all confirms what I’ve been hearing for years; that is, the trick is to find something you enjoy doing. Exercise feels like a chore because we force ourselves to do things that are easily defined as “fitness” moves, like weight lifting for instance. But for every gym buff who lives for the free weights, there are a hundred more people thinking up every excuse in the book to not go to the gym because weight training makes them miserable. For every dedicated marathon runner there are dozens of people who spend their entire workout fantasizing about breaking a leg so they don’t have to run anymore. For every enlightened yogi there is a veritable army of agitated people with zero balance two deep breaths away from strangling their instructor with the yoga mat because it’s just not working for them.

You’ll never exercise if the very thought of the exercise makes you cringe. You’ll just keep making excuses, or you’ll phone it in, and afterward you’ll feel bad for not making the effort.

So find something you truly enjoy. It doesn’t have to be “traditional” exercise; it just has to be something physical that you enjoy enough to keep doing it. It could be swimming at the local pool, golfing with a friend, walking a friend’s dog, learning how to pole dance (they have classes for that now!), joining a gentlemen’s hockey team, tending your own garden, or any number of other possibilities. Find something you enjoy doing, do it often, and you will see results.

Myself, I may not have experienced any significant weight loss (yet!) on the Zombies! Run! program, but I have reduced my average pace from a 20-minute mile to a 14-minute mile in just two weeks, which is something I’m sure I never would have accomplished had I not found this app.

What kind of fitness programs have you tried? Have they worked for you? Do you enjoy your workouts? Please share!

We Are Currently Experiencing Difficulties…Technical and Otherwise

Scheduling has never been a strength of mine, and as such it’s not surprising that only a few weeks after setting up a blogging schedule for myself I mucked it up. You’ll have to forgive me, however, because the lack of updates the past two days was the result of a mixture of my own lack of planning ahead, a ban of mobile devices in the control room in which I work, a chintzy-at-best internet connection at the camp where I stay, and a very, very terrible few nights of sleep.

I swear I’m not making excuses. I’ve been so tired that I passed out and started snoring on the bus to work yesterday. Very unbecoming.

I am currently working on ensuring that next week does not befall the same fate that the end of this week did, so I hope you will be kind enough to cross your legs, fold your hands, and wait patiently for regular posts to resume.

Or don’t. It really won’t make a difference.

(But I have found patience to be somewhat less stressful.)

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 5

Tuesday again! That means I’m halfway through my work shift, and that it’s time for me to feel bad about myself again! Huzzah!

First I’d like to mention a mini-goal that I reached yesterday: WordPress informs me that the post I made yesterday was my 200th. Woo hoo! Honestly I’m finding that more than a little difficult to believe…I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with anything so long before, so yay me! Here’s to another hundred posts!

On to making myself feel bad…

Health and Body Image Goal
If you could be legally punished for neglecting to take care of yourself, I’d be put away for life. I’ve been trying to eat decent foods, I will say that, but there’s only so many options at camp and after a while you start to get sick of salads and oranges and whole wheat bagels. Additionally, I’ve found myself completely unwilling to exercise at night. I keep telling myself that it’s going to happen, but it never does. I swear it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s just that I work for 12 hours plus an hour’s worth of bus rides, then I have to eat and shower, an sometimes I have to do my laundry, and… Okay, yeah, I know, I’m making excuses. Shut up. 😦

Editing Goal
And as though I weren’t feeling bad enough as it is, I have to admit that I still haven’t touched my manuscript. I’ve become so obsessed with finishing my current work in progress that I just keep writing and never get around to the editing. The caveat of that, of course, is that I’m going to end up with two manuscripts that need revision and editing. So really, I’m just punishing myself in the long run. Ugh.

1,000,000 Word Goal
Okay, here at least I can feel a little good about myself. This week, mostly between taking commissioning calls at work, I managed to scribble out 2837 words worth of blog entries and 4730 words worth of my work in progress, for a weekly total of 7567 words, my best yet this year. Yay! I may be way behind on the goal, but man, I’ve been writing a heck of a lot more than usual. I may just be a “real” writer after all!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I wrote a ton o blog posts this week but didn’t get around to typing them up, so I better get my butt in gear.