Excuses—Free Yourself from Your Own Chains

Self Imposed Chains May Be Looming Over You, and Linking You To Your Own Demise.

Looking back on what I learned as a 25 year old, one thing stands out above everything else. My 25th year was a year in which I actually learned a lot, but my most important lesson is arguably still being absorbed and put into practice. The most important thing I discovered is to confront excuses and the power that they can hold over ones life. I spent 2014 in a huge commitment to a project, 65h weeks were on the low side of average, in a mentally and physically demanding position. In 2014 I was a Sous-Chef in a brand new restaurant. It was easy to let my health, personal desires, love, and sense of a normal life to fall by the wayside. Or at least such a commitment appeared to allow my ego to justify that as an excuse. I think all in all a second valuable lesson was what life can be like in a state of immense commitment. I didn’t practice or study music, write/blog, or develop any of my own business ideas into business plans. Misuse of my “free time” is to blame. Where does the excuse come in? I told myself that the commitment itself justified putting my true desires aside, and that I couldn’t compromise my commitment to someone else’s dreams to pursue my own. That is an excuse to stay complacent, in place, and put others interests over my own. That being said, I did accomplish one of my true desires outside of my major commitment: completing 4 Spartan Races in 11 months. I was able to attain this goal despite maintaining high performance in a role as a key management member of a busy restaurant. Surely if I can do that then I can adjust, restructure and address the excuses I made that held me back from pursuing true personal freedom.

I make excuses, and you do too if you’re being honest. Not all excuses are malevolent, and not all of a grandly deceptive nature, but overall the process of making excuses is subtly eroding away at lives of fulfillment. The human body, spirit, and mind are capable of amazing and incredible feats. The same human body, spirit, and mind will often allow a falsely justified attitude or idea (an excuse) to control itself, robbing the potential of the amazing and incredible. Excuses are created to escape responsibility for giving direction and purpose, to one’s own life. As awe-inspiring as the capabilities of the human being may be, conversely the un-inspiring excuses created by the same human being can be just as astonishing. The mind, or rather the ego takes pride in it’s creations. Subconsciously there is pride in standing by the excuse that has been formulated. Justifying excuses often takes even more effort then to change the behavior or to be accountable. Everybody has met someone standing behind an excuse with bullish stubbornness. “I can’t because… insert self-defeating statement.” When questioned or shown the fallacy of their justifications, they only entrench more, “No, I can’t because…x,y,z.” The x,y,z are reasons that they believe in their inabilities over their abilities, or fear over faith. It’s like solving a math problem, but never double checking it or verifying the validity of the answer, then finding out you got the wrong answer but trying to argue for the miscalculations merit, or that you did get the right answer. It is astounding the level of effort that someone can thrust into their false rationale of why something can’t be done, rather then redirecting that effort into solutions, or changing thoughts and behaviors.

Why Didn’t the Bird Cross the Road? He’s got an excuse just ask him.

What few people will say or realize is that change, and a life with direction require effort, but SO DOES MAKING EXCUSES. Wasting cognitive resources explaining, and defending excuses repeatedly through flawed logic is no way to become successful. I think the root is gratification. Especially in today’s society, people value instant gratification. The work required to affect positive change in life is seen as less gratifying because the reward is at the end, not the beginning. People think that by making an excuse they have avoided the problem, situation or event, thus receiving subconscious gratification immediately. The reverse is in fact true. The gratification that was felt from making and justifying an excuse to not act, grow, or change will ultimately sour into a state of un-fulfillment and fear of change. Putting in the work to change, to plan, to learn, then to become fulfilled through creating a real purposeful life is much more desirable in the long run than its counterpart. Taking the easy way out, avoiding real decisions and work, feeling a small sense of reward from avoidance, only to later have life deteriorate and collapse when the foundation of excuses crumbles, and simply cannot be vindicated any longer.

How do you overcome the propensity for the easy way out? Initially you must recognize and address this in yourself. The capabilities of our species are limitless, and constantly being defied. Latch on to the reasons why you can, versus why you can’t. Other people are pursuing, and achieving their dreams without excuses, or at least crushing the excuses into oblivion along the way. Join them. Don’t let another day, hour, or minute go by without realizing that you have the same potential to achieve as any other, you just choose not to. Choosing to live a real life, or subsisting in a state of non-action, and avoidance. Seems like an easy choice, or should when it’s spelled out in black and white. Evaluate your life as it is currently, why you’re not where you want to be, and take 100% responsibility for where you are and directing yourself towards a future that is desirable.

What has helped me face my excuses? One day in December 2013, I can pinpoint my battle against excuses taking a turn in my favor that fortuitous day. I completed a grueling 15.5 mile Spartan Beast, on 2.5 hours of sleep, and still finished in top 100 in my age group. If I can even complete the race under such circumstances how am I allowing myself to not reach that potential regularly? That day was my first step in taking on excuses head on. One day, and one event is not enough. I still created elaborate excuses throughout 2014 that held me back. Adopting a vigilance against self-defeating thoughts must be maintained daily. That is what I really learned. I am not 100% free of excuses yet, but I continue to challenge any notion that what lies in front of me is beyond my capabilities, and I know there are individuals alive today that overcame this and achieved great things regardless of circumstance.

(Morning) Rituals and Routines—What Might Be the Unifying Factor in Success.

BY @multitude27

Day Break. #nofilter

First post of 2015!!!!!!

 

This post is adapted from a post I published at Medium yesterday. I’m a huge fan and follower of Tim Ferriss (follow him on Twitter and his blog to be on the cutting edge of performance and success) Through his blog and podcast Mr. Ferriss has really emphasized the morning routine of the successful and how they vary but can contain striking similarities.

 

The following words are a synopsis of where I’m at personally adopting a functioning routine into my life.

 

 

(Morning) Rituals and Routines—What Might Be the Unifying Factor in Success.

I honestly don’t practice a routine right now. But, I’m developing a system. I am the type of person that can’t have a monotonous life, and routines are monotonous, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Completely wrong. In all my studying of success nothing recurs quite as often as having a routine to spark creativity and productivity. Maybe list making, but that is often part of the routine! Chicken and egg aside, I’ve put a great deal of effort into the study of routine and routine building in my life. However, to date, I have yet to actually practice my routine(s). To overcome my fear that having a routine would add too much monotony regardless of its productivity benefits, I’ve decided to create different routines for different styles of days. Wait, hear me out—there are core tenets that form the ultimate simplicity of my routine, but I tailor other aspects and steps outside the core to jumpstart engagement in how I want to direct and create my day. How does that work? Something like this: I broke days down into primary themes and differentiate/adjust the routines accordingly.

Each day should have one major goal/tenet:

Brain Dayslearn and absorb at least one truth, skill, or lesson.

Fitness DaysFocus on health and fitness, with a major workout or mission accomplished

Creative DaysMust create one item. Whether that’s a cog to a larger creation or a finalized product.

Money DaysCreate Income/Profit. Goals and target numbers set and strived for. Financial Management and Improvement.

Love Days—purposefully free of routine…spontaneity and freedom rule. Days devoted to love, and enjoying the moment.

Macro with some good morning Dew

Macro with some good morning Dew

 

What makes each day different is the desired outcome and goal. The goal overall is to have systems in place that make each morning an enjoyable and effective way to start my day. Designing the differences in the routines is in accordance with these goals. I wouldn’t say that each day is fully set out yet, in total detail but some things have been established. Each day gets it’s own musical accompaniment to the routine based on how I’m setting the tempo for the day. For instance, fitness days are geared towards higher tempo music to induce a more intense frame of mind before training. I believe certain days don’t need music.

The inclusion of a day free of routine I felt necessary, to avoid negative self talk and criticism. I tend to gravitate towards harsh self-appraisal so this can insulate me. Go on? A day where I can be free and spontaneous built within the greater framework of a structured routine system alleviates me from pressure or need to berate my failure. After all who can be mad at a day spent in freedom, love and pursuing the enjoyment of our limited time in this plane of existence? So I broke routine? End of the world? No. Not unless I can’t look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say that I lived my way and no day is bad. Which is never.

The purpose of this wasn’t to long windedly explain that I’ve got a different way of routinizing life, the purpose was to share what gets results and that’s why if you’re still reading you ultimately clicked this story.

My routine system I’ve discussed is complicated, but it suits me because I’m complicated as well. That being said I do know that a high level of complication can ultimately defeat the real purpose of a routine…to simply do tasks in a manner that doesn’t require the level of conscious thought it would to independently accomplish these tasks: with the overall system leading to higher functioning as a human.

Here is the simple stuff. What have I found to work for me and common among the successful?

COMMONALITIES AMONGST DAYS:

  • • Each routine should include the sourcing/planning/preparing of the day’s first meal.
  • • Make Bed
  • • Hydration—8–20 oz. of water.
  • • Some form of affirmative thought/visualization/gratitude/meditative time
  • • A baseline minimum physical activity: Yoga/Stretch, 200 pushups, breathing exercises.

Following these activities I would tailor the following steps to the day. Creative days would involve a writing practice with various projects ongoing. Fitness days, a great training session or sessions. Money days, an evaluating my personal and company finances with increasing income and profit taking center stage. Brain days, deeply immersive study of a subject of my choosing. Love days, who knows?

Overall, I think that using these commonalities as a foundation and building off of them can prove very beneficial. The rest of your day already has a sense of purpose and accomplishment. You’ve followed a routine, and that’s a key to reaching a happy and successful life. Ask anybody. Anybody that you consider to be successful, and see if they don’t have some form of routine to become more effective.

 


 

Any thoughts or comments? What do you do that is different or similar to my set up? Am I crazy? Let me know in the comments below or Tweet me @multitude27 on the side bar.

 

Thank you,

 

Brendan