By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, I go over our habit goals, some of our excuses in not doing them, and what to do instead. I also answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: How to Stop Buying Our Own Excuses (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions dealing with procrastination, writing, pushback from loved ones, anxiety and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
How to Stop Buying Our Own Excuses:
If you’ve been trying to form habits/rituals this year (and last), you know that things get in the way
– some of them are external things, like work demands, people getting sick, visitors, unexpected events
– but a lot of time the thing getting in the way is ourselves
We get in the way by:
– putting off starting
– rationalizing not doing it today
– beating ourselves up if we don’t do what we planned
– rushing through it and not enjoying the habit
– mentally complaining about it
These all result in us not wanting to do the habit, and then creating excuses. Rationalizations. Justifications.
Some common ones:
- “I’m too tired” or “I’m too tired, I’ll do this much better tomorrow”.
- “I can do it later”
- “Just giving in this once won’t hurt” or – “nothing happens if I skip it once”
- “It’s not a big deal if you do this other thing real quick”
- â€œOooh, this looks interesting. Iâ€™ll get back to the task in a moment.â€
- “I’ve been working hard, I deserve a break/treat”
- “I’m busy now” or “It’s not a priority right now”
- “I’ll do my habit, but first let me do this little task or get everything in order firstâ€œ (perfectionism)
- “I donâ€™t have a big enough chunk of time to do this now”
Sometimes we don’t even think about what weâ€™re not doing. It just happens â€¦ but under this not thinking is a habitual excuse that we donâ€™t even verbalize in our heads anymore.
What’s going on?
– we are feeling resistance/aversion to doing the thing we committed to
– we desperately or mindlessly seek a way out – an escape – which is why we rationalize
– we discount the effect of putting it off
– we take more seriously our rationalizations
– it’s our little kid wanting to run
What’s the effect?
– we don’t live up to our commitments to ourselves
– we get into the mental habit of looking for the escape
– we build up stress, debt, bad health, piled up work, worsened relationships
Sometimes, the effect is good: putting something off isn’t always harmful. But to know the difference, we have to be incredibly honest with ourselves – are we trying to escape, or is this the most loving thing I can do?
It takes time to realize the difference.
What can we do instead of buying our excuses?
Recognize that we’re doing our old mental habit.
Get in touch with the aversion, fear, resistance.
See that it’s trying to create an escape. Give compassion.
Stand for yourself. Stand for courage, a bigger heart, your devotion.
Be the bigger self you envision.
From this place of a bigger heart, a fierce compassion, a courageous love — what is the best action you can take? What will the long-term result of this action be?
Is this your most authentic self, or your little kid wanting to run?
This isn’t about strictness & discipline, harshness or judgment. Those are not helpful, and they are not from a place of the bigger heart. Instead, this is about growing up out of our scared little child, it’s about standing for something bigger than ourselves, being the leader, the strong courageous heart, that we’ve always wanted to be.
What will you stand for? How can you grow beyond the scared little child? How can you remind yourself of that in the moments of trying to escape?
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- Iâ€™m currently concentrating on the unprocrastination habit. One thing I’ve noticed is I can do one very well, but then I feel like I want the reward / break… but part of the problem is I don’t re-start. How do I best give myself the reward / break without de-railing myself?
- Iâ€™m finishing a book this month and I have quite a bit of fear over some of the things I’m trying to do. It’s a diverse cast of characters and I’m writing from other cultures than my own. I’ve researched and am being as respectful and empathetic as I can. One of my goals is to make stories from POVs that give focus to underserved groups. Afraid of doing it wrong though keeping on.
- My success in some habits has created pushback from loved ones that has escalated the further I progress. Do you have suggestions for handling this?
- Life is a collection of various habits, how do you balance and build trust in how much to give to each one? I often feel I’m letting myself down not giving enough to each one :-)
- I don’t struggle with specific fears, but with a general feeling of undefined anxiety, a sense of constant low level danger. What habits would you recommend to develop more trust in life?