Circumstances or Excuses?

Circumstances. Everybody has them! However, how you choose to deal with circumstances can have a huge effect on your ability to meet personal goals.

I lead a group discussion class that aims to get people moving on their goals, particularly in the area of weight loss and maintenance. The vast majority of us know exactly how to lose weight. We know what we should be eating. We know that we eat too many or too much of foods that really don’t support our health and well-being. We fail to get much exercise. Yada, yada, yada…..

What’s the core issue with people? What’s really stopping them from getting to their goals? I find that there is a common thread that runs through participants in my classes that is a great predictor of success or failure. It has a lot to do with the relationship between circumstances and excuses.

Like I said, everybody has circumstances in their life. For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to use the following definition:

Circumstance: “a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action”

For example, you have a goal of working out three days a week for at least an hour. You block out three separate hours in your week to exercise. On Monday, your daughter comes home and says that she must go to a meeting at school at 5:30 on Thursday, precisely one of the times that you had blocked out to get your exercise in. You are faced with a choice.

Your daughter’s meeting is now a condition relevant to your planned workout (event). In other words, it’s just a circumstance. You have several choices in this situation. You can ignore your daughter and go ahead with your workout. You can take your daughter to her meeting and skip your workout. You can see if there is someone else who can take her to the meeting. You can see if the meeting can be rescheduled. You can reschedule your workout for a different time. What’s the best choice?

The first two solutions are not optimal because they result in you or your daughter not fulfilling on your commitments. The others accomplish meeting the needs of both, so those are the optimal choices. However, I often have participants choose something like the second option. It would most likely be expressed by the following, “I couldn’t work out because I had to take my daughter to a meeting on Thursday.” This circumstance has now turned into an excuse.

Excuse: “a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense”

It all comes down to responsibility. The excuse seeks to assign our lack of follow through on the daughter, or the person who scheduled the meeting or the circumstance itself. The idea being that somehow you were not responsible for the fact that you did not do what it is that you committed yourself to. This brings us to the bad news, but I find it to be a key to people’s success in weight loss as well as other commitments.

You are responsible for the commitments that you make AND handling ALL of the circumstances that should arise that may get in the way of reaching that goal!

The above example is pretty simple. That little voice in your head may be telling you, “yeah, but my issue is bigger,” or “but my problem is really important” or something similar. It’s still an excuse! You’re the person who chose your goal. You’re the ONLY one responsible for fulfilling on it! There are people in the world with giant circumstances such as the following:

She Had Stage 4 Cancer, Then She Did An Ironman

So if that’s the bad news, what’s the good news?

You can have whatever you want. Make a goal, take steps toward that goal, manage the circumstances that get in the way. It’s that simple!

Practice taking responsibility for the circumstances that show up in your life. You may find that your goals aren’t as impossible as you think they are. You may not know it yet, but you are bigger than your circumstances!!

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