Excuses or Valid Reasons: Which is it?

Excuses or valid reasons

You can’t achieve your goals.

You come home from the office tired, so you don’t want to put the work in.

After a long day, you deserve some rest, so you scroll through your phone before hitting the sack.

There’s no way you can start your day earlier because you didn’t sleep and don’t want to be tired and miserable all day.

You can’t take control of your life because you work on your kids’ schedules. You drive them from one activity to the other. It’s not like you can keep them home all day.

Sure, you want to achieve your goals, but under current circumstances, it’s not possible.

Let’s pause and reflect.

Which of the explanations that you give yourself for not achieving are legit?

Today’s world is all about the hustle. You are told not to let anything stand between you and your goals. Otherwise, you are lazy and making excuses.

It’s not always that straightforward, though.

The exemptions we give ourselves fall into two categories.

  1. Excuses
  2. Valid reasons

Unfortunately, most don’t differentiate between the two.

The Psychology of Excuses

Have you ever heard of ego defenses?

They’re quite fascinating.

I’m sure you already know about your id, ego, and superego.

Here’s a quick recap:

Your id is that part of you concerned with your urges and desires. It is impulsive, unrestrained, and seeks pleasure at all costs.

Your superego is the opposite. This part of you cares about your values and morals.

Follow it, and you are rewarded with feelings of satisfaction and pride. Disregard it and be drowned in guilt and shame.

Your ego is the balance between the two. Your ego helps the id get what it wants without upsetting the superego.

In other words, your ego creates a plan to satisfy your desires without going against your morals.

How is this relevant to our topic?

Your ego is making a fool of your superego while secretly conspiring with the id.

Here’s the process:

The psychology of excuses

You do something you shouldn’t have or don’t do something you should have (This is your id at play) →

You feel bad about it (Superego activated) →

Your ego defends the id with an ego defense.

There are multiple types of ego defenses. The one we are concerned with is rationalization, i.e., justifying what happened.

You make it make sense.

  • You didn’t work out because you had the slightest pain in your left leg.
  • You didn’t read the book because you spent all day reading documents at work.

Adding because to the sentence makes it more acceptable. It’s OK because you had a REASON! (Notice how it’s bold and underlined to make it seem important, but you know half of the reasons we give ourselves are BS.)

But it’s not an excuse!

Sometimes, the reason you give yourself is not an excuse.

This is the single parent who decided not to work overtime because they don’t want their kids to grow up without them.

This is the student saying I’m not going to drop out of college to focus on my start-up because 9 out of 10 start-ups fail.

It’s not giving up. It’s making smart decisions in difficult situations.

These are valid reasons.

They are usually accompanied by guilt for not doing the thing you are told that you should be doing. You wonder is this an excuse or are you cutting yourself slack.

The world has fallen victim to the hustle culture. You either give up everything to work on your goals or you are living wrong.

What’s the difference?

Now, we have a problem.

How do you know whether the reason you are giving yourself is an excuse or a valid reason?

Are you letting yourself off the hook or is this something to consider?

The truth is unveiling the nature of your reasons will always be a struggle. Some clues can help you differentiate between the two.

Excuses are easily pushed through. With a strong enough motive, you can overcome whatever it is that’s holding you back. For example, you don’t want to train for a marathon. Yet, if running a marathon will impress that certain someone, you’d do it anyway.

When a valid reason is holding you back, you’ll try to find workarounds. You’ll try to come up with ways to do the thing in spite of their existence.

Let’s say, you want to network with the big names in your industry, but doing so would mean moving to a new state.

You can still do it, right?

But your partner is settled into her job in your current area. Your kids are in school. Your elderly parents live nearby so you’re around in case of an emergency.

That complicates the situation, doesn’t it?

In this situation, it’s quite unreasonable to just pack your bags and leave.

Does That Mean I Can Give Up?

I am not cutting you slack.

I am not validating your excuses.

When you have a valid reason, you try to make it work anyway.

In the previous example, you may head out to where the networking happens on the weekends. You may try to connect online.

You do what you can to get what you want.

Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, it makes sense to try again later, and that’s OK.

The world makes you feel guilty for making the decisions that are right for you at the moment.

The mentality is that you get it done or you aren’t trying hard enough.

The key is to recognize which category your reasoning falls into. Do you have a valid reason for which you need to find a workaround?

Or are you making an excuse in which case you should shut up and achieve?

I have a separate post on how to stop making excuses. You can read it here.

Dealing With Valid Reasons

Excuses are tricky.

They try to disguise themselves as valid reasons. With a keen eye, you can distinguish the two.

Putting your all into overcoming whatever is holding you back is key. Excuses crumble easily. Whereas, it’ll take a while to find ways to work around valid reasons.

The world tells you to ‘drop everything and chase your dream’. Think about how you can chase your dreams without neglecting your other responsibilities.

Reaching your goals despite these obstacles’ presence is possible. It just takes a little extra planning.

Execute your excuses. Accommodate your valid reasons.

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Excuses or Valid Reasons: Which is it?