February 2014: No Excuses!

Hey Monthly Experimenters!

Today is February 1st, and I’m really excited to announce a brand new experiment we’re going to be doing this month. I think it’s going to be one of our best experiments ever, and I hope you decide to join me. More on that in a minute.

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve written about my monthly experiments here. In fact, it’s been way too long! Since I last posted here, I have actually done a few experiments that I haven’t written about yet, and I’ll share them in the coming months. I’ve also been working on a few exciting side projects that I’ll share at some point.

In any case, not sharing my experiments here these last few months has made me feel lame. The truth is that I had to shift my priorities and take care of some things that were more important than this project. You could say that I had good reasons to spend my energy elsewhere, but I still don’t feel good about not following through on all the things I wanted to do.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I had made a lot of plans and promises over the last few months that I simply didn’t live up to. For the first time in my life, I actually got into a habit of not following through on things. Instead, I let excuses and fear get in the way of doing the things I wanted to do. Pro-tip: don’t do that.

Of course, when you make excuses, you don’t get things done. It feels terrible to let yourself down, and to disappoint others. Excuses just hold you back. Honestly, I think that’s the worst habit I’ve ever gotten into.

So this month’s experiment is about changing that habit for good.

Our goal is to replace the habit of making excuses with the habit of taking action and following through. That’s a habit that leads to success and is essential in reaching your goals.

For a whole month, I’m not going to allow myself to make an excuse about anything at all.

No Excuses

My real goal for this experiment goes beyond doing something for just one month. I’m actually hoping to create a habit that will last long after the experiment is over. Whenever you want to change a habit, it helps to keep things as simple as possible.

So, here are the rules for this month’s experiment:

1. No excuses.

This rule is pretty simple. You’re not allowed to make excuses for a whole month. That means, if you plan to do something, you just do it. No matter what.

  • You’re not allowed to cancel lunch with a friend just because it’s raining.
  • You’re not allowed to skip your workout just because you’re tired.
  • You’re not allowed to cheat on your diet just because you’re really craving fast food.
  • You’re not allowed to miss a deadline because you get sick. (Unless it’s ebola or something.)
  • You’re not allowed to be “too busy” for the things you want to do.

You get the idea. It’s not a new concept. You’re already used to not making excuses about a lot of things in your life. You wouldn’t make excuses about driving drunk or punching old ladies or not paying your taxes. You just do what you’re supposed to do. This experiment is about expanding that habit to everything in your life and accelerating toward your goals.

2. Keep an “excuses journal.”

Living with no excuses for a month might sound like a great idea, but I also suspect it will be a tough challenge. We probably all make little excuses as we go about our days, and we might not even notice it.

One thing that is really helpful when changing your habits is to focus on increasing your awareness. If we start to notice our excuses more, we should be able to avoid giving in to them. So, I’m going to be keeping an informal “excuses journal” this month.

Anytime I catch myself making an excuse (even if I just think of making an excuse), I’m going to write it down, and write down what I was doing (or avoiding) at the time.

As an example, let’s say I plan to get some exercise on a given day, but 9pm rolls around and I still haven’t done my exercise. Maybe I’m feeling tired and I say to myself, “Ugh. I’m too tired to work out today. I’ll just do it tomorrow.” First, I’ll write that excuse down in my journal, AND then I’ll do my workout anyway.

The goal behind the journal is to increase your awareness, and start to recognize your habits and patterns so you can learn to avoid problems before they come up. I have no idea if the journal will help, but it seems like a cool idea, so I’m just going to roll with it. I’ll probably share some of my excuses and journal entries as the month goes on.

That’s it. Just two rules. No excuses for one month.

Want to join me?

What do you think about this experiment? Does it sound like something you’d benefit from?

Is there something in your life that you’ve been putting off or making excuses about? Some goal or task you want to accomplish that you could be making more progress on?

Whenever you give up your crutches, you get stronger. Anytime you cut something from your life (whether it’s sugar or coffee, negativity or excuses), you realize how big a role those thing play. At first, quitting something like this is jarring and uncomfortable. But if you push through that difficult phase, you can change your habits and “cure” yourself of those addictions. That makes you stronger and more independent.

I’m really excited to see what happens. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the best experiments I’ve done for this project, right up with my Stop Working Late experiment that helped me stop being a workaholic.

If giving up ALL your excuses sounds too tough, you can always start by focusing on one area of your life at first. Maybe you want to stop making excuses about your work or your fitness or your relationships. It’s up to you. But I promise, if you join me and stick with it for a month, something good will happen.

I’ve got some posts and stories coming soon that I’m pretty excited about. So, stay tuned for that.

For now, if you want to join me, leave a comment below and let me know, or click here to tweet your commitment!

Let’s do this!

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  1. Wow, I think this will be a tough one. I’m willing to join in though, because I really need to get rid of my habit of making excuses. I’m in, starting now *gulp*
    Thanks John (or at least I hope I’ll thank you at the end of February) 🙂

  2. I’ll do it until I can think of a reason to stop.

  3. UGH….of course I’m in. You have an uncanny ability to read minds, particularly mine when I secretly have been trying to do something like this (except for the note taking part which will clearly make me successful). Thank you for making me actually tell people so I can’t give up. Shame on you.

  4. By the way, it’s literally the first day of this experiment and I already have two entries in my excuses journal. Pushed through both obstacles, and feeling good.

    Feeling resistance isn’t a bad thing, unless you let it defeat you.

  5. This is a great idea! Recently I developed the habit of making excuses and in the process disappointing myself alot, and I know I need to change that. It’s gonna be a long month but count me in! Thanks!

    • Hey Kael,
      You can always make a change and improve. Hold yourself accountable and work toward your goals, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
      Keep us posted on how it goes.

  6. Hello 🙂 I am in! I am totally willing to do it, especially the thing with the notebook…
    Although I think, I have to start with an excuse… I have a meeting at 10am (I really _want_ to be there), actually I do yoga in the mornings, but now its to late to be in time. Bed was too comfortable.

    Well, I think, I will just write that down and do the yoga in the evening, what do you think?


  7. I’m impressed with your article. You got it right. All of need to lean forward and move forward every single day to achieve goals and dreams.



  8. I’m in! Thanks for cooking this one up, John. I’m really to see that your publishing these again. I enjoy your perspective.

  9. Oh man, this is a tough one. It’s a great way to start owning my choices though. Let’s see how this goes!

  10. Okay, I am in. Not even sure what all Excuses will be coming up …. should be interesting since I probably call Excuses by another name …. so the primary one will be the daily bouncing on the rebounder and we will see what else will follow. Taking care of all the paperwork details of clients within a more timely manner will be another. Game on!

  11. It is a great experiment!!!

    I have let myself down and disappointed others several times because of my ridiculous procrastination. I am a graduate student. This is my first year in America. The horrible thing is, I finished all the assignments later than the deadline and I could not control myself!!! When there are a few hours left before the due time, I just feel uncomfortable, and my body feels drowsy. I spend more time reading irrelevant books, hanging out with friends, watching TV sets, and sleeping as well as eating.

    Maybe procrastination is the excuse I make for myself. There is no such things. I will overcome this problem!!!

    • Hey Cherry,

      I’ve been there. Procrastination is tough, and making excuses can definitely be a part of the problem. In my case, I had to get out of the denial I was in and let go of the idea that there was any other way to get things done than to just do them. The faster you can take action on the things you need to do, the better off you’ll be.

      Good luck with your experiment. No excuses! 🙂

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