Stop making excuses, you’re doing just fine.

I’ve had a bad night’s sleep. I have a headache and cramps. I worked late. We had afterschool activities that ran late and had calls to make in the evening that also went longer than usual.

My kitchen bench before decluttering excuses and just doing the job of tidying up!
Before tidying up this morning. Note: This is a judgement-free zone. Your “before” might look like my “after” or vice versa, what matters is the comfort of the people spending time here.

So, it’s no wonder my kitchen “looks like a bomb hit it” this morning.

Wait. Stop that, Lauren. Those might be why you didn’t clean the kitchen last night, but really, the only reason the kitchen is messy is that my family ate dinner and it wasn’t entirely cleaned up.

I believe it was the little old green man in Star Trek that said “Do or do not do, there is no try.” (I know it was Yoda in Star Wars, gotcha nerds.)
My excuses are all versions of “I will/did try”, what matters is what I did it did not do.

What am I excusing anyway?

When I make excuses for not keeping up with my habit goals I’m actually just giving myself another list of excuses to not reach my goals next time. More validated excuses make it easier not to do the thing again. The flip side of this is that more excuses make it harder for me to reach my goals.

I’ve noticed that women in particular tend to list off our excuses when explaining our perceived failings to friends and coworkers. I think we do this to make ourselves feel better. We want to know that we’re not seen as lazy or bad in any way. What this actually does is show others what we determine is a good or fair excuse for not keeping our shhh together.

What does that say for the woman next to us who didn’t have a late night meeting or family member to support, or a trip to the emergency room, are her excuses valid? Is she *gasp* lazy? Who cares? If something didn’t get done all it means is that it hasn’t been done. That’s it. It’s what we do next that matters.

If, instead of making excuses I can just say “I didn’t do it”, I put the ownership of the situation back on myself.

Now I have the power to choose differently (or the same if I want) next time.

In her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Laura Vanderkam taught us to reframe “I don’t have time” into “it’s not a priority.”. I’ve found it helpful to reframe my excuses into a priority statement. “I didn’t clean the kitchen because I prioritised talking with my husband and supporting him through some stressful work issues.” Or “I didn’t clean the kitchen because I prioritised watching tv and eating chocolate.”
Either way, I didn’t do it – I’m owning that, but now I can see what I chose to do instead.

Can’t someone else do it?!

It’s no secret that I am a fan of outsourcing wherever possible. And, yes, I could (and do) expect my family to pick up the slack when I don’t do something. However, getting cranky about someone else not doing the thing that we also didn’t do is kinda hypocritical. They have reasons/excuses/priorities too.

I guess the point I’m making here, and largely as a reminder for myself, is that I am no longer entertaining my own excuses (valid or not) because of the time and effort that making excuses and then feeling cranky about things not getting done is not helpful.

I have control over my own choices and what I do or do not do.

Now that I have prioritised writing this article, I will choose to clean my kitchen next because, well, because I choose to have a clean kitchen.