These days, when I make a silly excuse for myself, I can usually catch it—and correct it—pretty quickly.
But it wasn’t always like this. I used to struggle a lot, making excuses that kept me from doing things I really wanted to.
- I’d waste my time with TV and video games and not work on projects I knew would help me develop into a better person.
- I’d avoid hanging out with people I knew were good for me because I thought I wasn’t worthy of their attention.
- I’d put off important decisions about my life because I didn’t trust myself to make the right ones.
I did this all the time.
Today, I struggle to think of recent example I can use. I wanted to point to something here and say, “See, I even still do it now!” But the truth is, I don’t. Not anymore. Not since I realized how the lame excuses I was making were holding me back and slowly ruining my life.
Do I still make excuses? Hell yes, I do. But what’s changed is instead of accepting my excuses as reality that I can do nothing about, I own up to them. I say to myself, “Tyler, you’re making a lame-ass excuse. Can you live with yourself knowing that?”
If the answer is yes, the lame-ass excuse stands! If not, I do something about it.
Any smart Riskologist will tell you this rule will serve you well your whole life.
To properly take a risk in life, it is mandatory that you operate in reality and take responsibility for your own actions (or inactions!). Until you do, everything you want will remain out of reach to you because it’s all controlled by someone or something else that won’t give it to you.
As a service to excuse makers the world over, I’ve gone to the embarrassing trouble of cataloging a list of my own most frequent offenses (with help from a number of other smart Riskologists on Twitter).
Also included is a list of statements to correct your offenses. When you find yourself making a lame-ass excuse, simply stop yourself, recognize your blunder, and correct it by re-stating in the proper, reality-based form.
11 Lame-Ass Excuses You Make Every Day that are Ruining Your Life (And 11 Non-Lame-Ass Alternatives)
1. I’ll get to it someday.
This is the one you use when there’s something you say is important to you but not actually important enough to commit to. Someday is not a day of the week, and it never will be.
If it’s important—if it’s really important—give yourself a deadline to finish it. Otherwise, no one really wants to hear about it.
Here’s a non-lame-ass alternative:
“I like the idea of this, but I’m not ready to commit to it yet.”
2. I need to get more feedback first.
This lame-ass excuse comes from a need for permission to do what you want. If you believe the value of the things you do comes from other people thinking they’re great, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find the courage to do something that you think is great.
The most important risks you take in life will always depend on your own opinion of them more than others’.
Here’s a non-lame-ass alternative:
I’m not confident enough in myself yet to do this. I’m working on it.”
3. I don’t have time for that.
Have you ever noticed the people who complain they don’t have time for something are often the same people who complain they don’t have time for anything.
This lame-ass excuse comes down to an inability to manage priorities. Everyone has the same 24 hours available to them every day, but not everyone makes the same choices about how to use them.
Rather than whine about how you never have time to do what you want, try this non-lame-ass alternative:
“My priorities suck, and I spend a lot of time doing things that don’t make me happy.”
4. I can’t afford it.
I used to use this one all the time, and it was never true. It’s a cop-out I would use when someone would ask me to join them on a trip or ask me why I didn’t own the fancy-pants-whatever-majig that was popular that month.
The truth is, I can’t think of a single thing anyone ever asked me about that I actually couldn’t afford. I had the money but didn’t want to part with it.
A much less lame-ass alternative I should have used (and try to use now) is:
“That’s not how I prefer to spend my money. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”
5. That might work for some people, but not for me.
This is the lame-ass excuse used most often by those suffering from “I’m a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake Syndrome.” It’s a horrendous affliction and, if you have it, I recommend addressing it immediately.
The root of the problem is in your inability to break down an idea (advice/directions/etc.) into pieces. Rather than looking for the parts of a story that you can use, you discard the entire thing the moment you run into something that doesn’t fit your unique situation.
People who excel at this can take a recipe for a spaghetti dinner and turn it into instructions for anything in life. Those with the syndrome don’t have the right pot to boil water in.
Here’s a non-lame-ass alternative to use the next time you find yourself suffering from IABAUSS:
“I’m being a lame-ass, and I don’t feel like applying this to my life right now.”
6. They have an advantage I don’t have.
This is the one you use when you think the only things that allow other people to succeed at what they do are the things that you don’t have access too.
This is one of the worst lame-ass excuses there is because, over time, you convince yourself that you can never succeed at anything because you’ll always be lacking something that someone else has.
Here’s the perfect non-lame-ass alternative to use the next time you catch yourself making this excuse:
“I don’t make use of the unique advantages that I have.”
7. I wish I could do that, but…
This is a lame-ass excuse I meet often right here on this site. I regularly get emails from people who enthusiastically say things like, “I think it’s great what you do. I wish I could do it too, but [insert lame-ass excuse].
Here’s a good rule of thumb for understanding anyone’s real feelings: discard all words that come before “but.”
- I’m not a racist, but…
- Not to be rude, but…
- That’s all great, but…
- I wish I could, but…
Here’s a non-lame-ass excuse to use in its place the next time you find yourself making this one:
“This isn’t something I’m able to do with my current priorities. If I actually want to do it, I’ll change them.”
8. I don’t know what I want.
Bullshit. Nothing more to say about that one. Here’s your alternative:
“I know exactly what I want, but I don’t have the courage yet to go after it.”
9. It’s not the right time.
This is the one you use when you’ve finally fessed up to what you actually want from your life but haven’t made the commitment to take action yet. Instead of just owning up to your own fear, you blame your inaction on the imperfect circumstance du jour:
- The economy is bad.
- I have too many other things going on.
- I don’t have enough education/whatever yet.
- I need to talk to an expert first.
There may very well be some things you need to take care of before it is the right time. But, in the mean time, don’t make lame-ass excuses about things you can’t control keeping you from doing it. Here’s your non-lame-ass alternative:
“I am delaying myself by waiting for the perfect opportunity that won’t come.”
10. They’re forcing me to…
I hate this one. It’s the worst because it’s the lamest of all. This is the one you use when you refuse to take responsibility for yourself and try to blame all your misfortune on other people who force you to do things or demand things from you.
The truth is—if you live in a free country—there are very few people who can or even want to force you to do anything besides pay your taxes, take care of your kids, and do things you signed your name to.
Everything beyond that is optional! Here’s a non-lame-ass excuse you can use the next time you find yourself blaming others for your own circumstances:
“I’m a pushover, and I take care of everyone else’s needs before my own. This makes me grumpy.”
11. No one really cares what I think.
You’re damn right no one cares what you think. You haven’t given anyone a reason to care what you think. And no one’s going to care what you think until you prove that what you think is valuable to anyone else.
But fear not, there are two ways to fix this:
- Stop caring what anyone else thinks.
- Change what you think to be valuable to others.
In either case, you have control over both options! Here’s your non-lame-ass alternative:
“I worry too much about what other people think of my opinions.”
Fear and Personal Responsibility for Non-Lame-Asses
I plagued myself for a long time with lame-ass excuses like this. Why? Because I was afraid—afraid of making mistakes and looking bad trying something new or different.
I didn’t want that responsibility, so I pushed it off on others. As long as someone else was keeping me from what I wanted, I didn’t have to take full responsibility for my own failures.
But this is no way to take a risk because it assumes failure from the start.
To properly take a risk, you must embrace the principles of Riskology. One of those principles is to take personal responsibility for your actions. When you shift your mindset so that you’re the one in charge, you get to navigate the tricky path and you get to call all the shots. At least you have a chance to succeed.
If you fail, yes: it’s all on you. But guess what? If you succeed, that’s all yours, too.
Notice that the alternatives to the lame-ass excuses above are still excuses! But they’re excuses that force you to think about your challenges in a way that you can actually do something about. They shift the blame away from everyone else and back onto you.
At the end of the day, the lesson is:
Quit being a whinypants and take responsibility for your life. It’s the only way to navigate a risky situation. And fear is not nearly as scary when you’re the one in charge of it.
Your Homework Today:
In the comments below, list one lame-ass excuse you make, and create an alternative that puts the responsibility back in your own control.