When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. More often than not, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:
- I don’t know how.
Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project as a way to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don’t push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience in doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to take action.
- I’m not good enough.
Not everyone has high self-esteem. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people or lack motivation. They just have a fear that they won’t be able to make good on commitments. Professional help may be warranted if self-esteem issues are a continuing problem. For most people, however, using the excuse that they’re not good enough is a stall tactic. And it will only backfire.
- I didn’t have any help.
OK, so you had to go it alone and could have used some assistance. But did you let your boss, friend, loved one or family member know you were having difficulty and needed help? If you failed to request help, that’s on you. Don’t use lack of help as an excuse for not taking action.
- I was sabotaged.
Really? Is it true that your co-workers, family members, friends or others have ganged up on you to make you look bad? Sabotage at work, home, school or elsewhere isn’t all that common, although it is rather commonplace to put forth this excuse for an inability and unwillingness to take action. Your less-than-stellar results should never be minimized by blaming others. That just shows you to be a small person, not very much a part of the team.
- Others can do it better.
Maybe they can, but using this excuse — especially if your boss, teacher, friend, parent or other loved one has given you the task — is a poor way to handle the situation. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to prove your worth, show your talents and and demonstrate how you can be relied upon to see the task through.
- I have too many projects now.
It might be worthwhile to look at who’s responsible for all the projects you do have. Who loaded up all these items on your desk in the first place? Could it be that you did this yourself, not anticipating the kind of conflicts you’d encounter when one or more of them ran up against each other?
The way out of this dilemma is to pare projects down to the absolutely essential, stripping away what isn’t productive, necessary or time-sensitive. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
- It wasn’t my fault.
After a blunder, oversight or colossal failure, you may use this excuse as a way to deflect criticism and point to others as the culprits. It also is a weak way to get out of doing anything further, especially to rectify the mistake you’ve already made. Whether it’s a misstep at work or elsewhere, own up to your mistake and offer suggestions on how you’ll turn it around. Otherwise, you’ll risk looking irresponsible.
- I’m not feeling well.
If you’re sick, you should be at home recuperating. Don’t go into work or school or bounce around town running errands, having coffee and perpetuating the excuse that you’re not well enough to tend to your responsibilities. Besides, nobody wants to be around someone who’s got a bug, is miserable with symptoms or lolling about doing nothing. They’ll resent your presence and steer clear. Worse yet, they may have to wind up doing your work as well, and that’s not going to help the next time you need their assistance with something.
- Something’s come up.
The excuse that some other pressing obligation took precedence over what you’re supposed to be doing is common. It even has legitimacy to it on occasion. The problem is that too many people fall back on this white lie as a reason to avoid taking action. After a few times hearing this excuse, however, the person in charge or those who are relying on you to get things done will start discounting your reliability.
- This can wait until later.
When you’re really trying to get out of a project or task, throwing out the notion that this one can be put off until another time doesn’t garner any points. It tells the person who’s looking for results that you’re a skater, someone who can’t be counted on to get the job done. Sooner or later, you’re likely to find that your procrastination costs you dearly. You could be overlooked for a promotion, others may fail to include you in activities, and your closest friends, loved ones and family members may turn elsewhere for help when something needs to be done.