THE BLOG

We've Got to Stop Making Excuses! Here's How

10/21/2013 04:49 pm ET | Updated Dec 21, 2013

How often do you find yourself coming up with a myriad of reasons why you can't accomplish your goals or achieve the success you've been craving? My personality is to see the world as very "gray" and is accepting of creating and telling elaborate stories about why things didn't work out.

When managing engineering projects, I was receptive to hearing team members' litanies of excuses for not meeting goals or deadlines and tried to encourage them with positive words. Then, I married a fighter pilot who sees the world very much in very black and white. In that world, if you mess up and you could die. Fighter pilots learn to apologize, learn from the mistake, never make the same mistake again, and move on. For my husband, it was hard for him to take my laundry list of reasons for every mistake I made or failure I had. I had to "explain" everything for it to be okay.

You can imagine the troubles this caused for my husband and me, especially in the early days. "Erin, you didn't pay our credit card bill on time!" is something Steve might have said. The answer he would have liked to hear is, "Oh crap, my bad, I'm so sorry." End of story. No excuses. Instead, what he would get is, "Well, I was going to pay in on Tuesday but my computer battery died, then I got a cold and was too sick to think about it on Wednesday, and then by Thursday I was so behind at work I was just swamped and then the baby was puking and Ella had her school play," and on and on.

I found myself having the same type of litany in my mind every time I didn't meet a professional goal. When things weren't moving forward as quickly as I'd like in my career or with sales of a new product, I'd blame myself and then to deflect the self-loathing I'd come up with a list of excuses such as I was too busy with my kids or I am too sleep deprived from the teething baby. After a time, I realized that most of my excuses were related to motherhood. And, they were all real reasons -- real things that made success significantly more challenging.

So what's going to change? My reality is that I have three very young kids, a husband with a demanding full-time job, a house to manage, and a burgeoning business of my own. My life is promising to be a little nutty for the next... oh, 18 years or so. And it's a beautiful, glorious, loving, and fun, but also stressful and incredibly demanding life.

I cannot let that stop me from achieving my dreams and goals!

So, I am adopting my husband's "no excuse" line of thinking. I f*#ked up? Didn't meet a deadline? Didn't meet a goal? I know the reasons, but I need to stop letting them be my excuses. I know my priorities, and they are my husband and children. My business will always come second... and that's okay.

I will accept my failures or lack of success in whatever way, and find ways to always improve. I'll set more realistic and achievable goals in the first place, and stop setting myself up for failure by creating deadlines and milestones that would be difficult for a dedicated single person with no kids who works 60 hours a week to achieve. I'll still practice self-compassion, but that's different than a list of excuses.

There is a difference!

Where do you find yourself making excuses in your life?

Does it serve you? If not, join me in the "no more excuses" club. Let's accept our lives as jam packed with unforeseen challenges (such as puking kids), and not let it get us down. Let's vow to accept when we screw up or can't perform like we'd like, say sorry to those we affect, and simply try each day to be better.