Noteworthy November is all about addressing the common excuses we, as a society, make all too often AND the fullness of life that it steals from us when we give way to these excuses.
In light of a “Theme Thursday,” I thought it would be appropriate to not focus on an actual excuse, but an underlying cause of why we SO often give into excuses.
Instant gratification increasingly plagues each successive generation in our fast paced, technologically savvy, credit driven, and indulgent American culture. If you want something, you essentially can get it within minutes of the idea popping into your mind. Of course, this doesn’t work with everything, but it is so common that people’s ability to be patient, to save, to put in hard work, to take meaningful risks, or deny themselves is extremely compromised… perhaps even non-existent in some life areas.
Excuses are what pop up when we are trying to justify away why we should not have to take personal responsibility for something that occurred. So, for instance…
“My cousin is coming into town and I hardly ever see him/her. I really don’t have the money to go out to the many places people usually go around here… but I can’t disappoint my cousin and have him/her bored out of his/her mind. I guess I’ll just put the weekend on credit and figure out a way to pay for it later.”
Excuse: Can’t disappoint my cousin
Personal Responsibility: Managing money appropriately and not spending money you don’t have.
Pressure: Fear of causing the cousin to not enjoy his/her visit.Instant Gratification: Making it seem like you have the money and feeling like you hosted your cousin well.
What you think you are avoiding: Awkward feelings between you and your cousin.
What you are losing out on: Peace of mind… Money (especially if you are paying interest)… Getting behind on other bills or payments… Providing for other needs… etcetera.
We have the propensity to want to avoid feeling bad and to move toward whatever feels good. I’ll be blunt to say that this is simply hedonism. We want what we want and we want it now. We often don’t fully think through our decisions and “justify” (make excuses for) our actions OR later on realize it was not a good idea and make excuses as to why it was too difficult or understandable to have done whatever we did.
We are so concerned about what feels good in the moment, that we often forget that the long awaited successes and taking the more complex route can lead to much more fulfillment. There is great joy in putting in hard work over a long period of time and then having a huge victory. This applies to finances, fitness, dietary changes, manual labor, parenting, romantic relationships, friendships, business ventures, and the list could go on and on…
We were made to be able to practice self-control. We need to stop giving into our pleasure sensors and pursue a deeper joy. It is so animalistic to give into these excuses that trick our mind into thinking it is okay to avoid what is best and chase after what satisfies in the moment.
If you find yourself making excuses, think about WHY you are making them. Do not allow yourself to justify excuses because they are true; but rather, think about what you are attempting to avoid. The excuse may explain why you did not do something, but the reality is that you made a mistake. THAT IS OKAY. But don’t just stop at that. Figure out why you are falling to that excuse and make a plan for the future so that you are not constantly reverting to instant gratification.