6 Techniques On How To Stop Making Excuses

It’s time to learn how to stop making excuses.  A lack of confidence can lead you to make excuses for not pursuing your most important goals.  Let’s face it when we make excuses, we hold ourselves back. 

  • Are you the queen of making excuses?  
  • Do you have a reason for every occasion when someone asks why you haven’t made progress on your Big Goals yet?
  • Do you physically squirm and avoid eye contact?

 If so, it’s time to take action.  Your big goals have waited long enough. 

Today is the day your life changes!  How?  Keep reading to learn some exciting techniques designed to get your life back on track.

1.  Be You

Do you worry that you’re not good enough?  Not being good enough is a common excuse.  What you’re doing is comparing yourself to someone else.  You think you can’t get anywhere because someone else has already done it better. 

Time to think again.  Regardless of who you’re comparing yourself to, no one will tackle a problem in the same way you will.  Instead, relax and jump into action your way. 

Let me give you a personal example.  There are a lot of people on the internet who write about confidence.  When I first started, I compared myself to them.  I worried about whether I would be good enough. 

But I also know that my approach to building confidence is different to theirs.  My background, history and views make me different.  I’ve learnt that nobody is ever entirely right or wholly wrong.  We are just different.  And there is something good about being able to celebrate that difference.

A great way to understand your unique approach is to understand yourself better.  Look at your own background and history and use that to your advantage.

See where being you can take you.

How to stop making excuses and step into the unknown like a woman stepping out into thin air

Sometimes you have to take a step forward even if the way is unclear

2.  Step Into The Unknown

Perhaps you hold yourself back because you don’t know what happens next.  Fear of the unknown is understandable.  But the problem with fear as an excuse is that you are forever at its mercy.

The need to take a brave step forward can be daunting.  In this instance, the best way to learn how to stop making excuses is to adopt a mindset of curiosity.  Be curious and jump into doing something new to find out what happens.

Alternatively, you could approach the situation as a big adventure—an opportunity to discover something new. 

Reduce the pressure on yourself by telling your fearful self that you are just going to have a look.  It works for me every time.  When we experiment or take an approach of curiosity, we open our minds and are less concerned about the outcome.

Besides, how unknown is it?  Take the time to do some research and write down what could possibly happen.  When you’re aware of the potential outcomes, your confidence will improve. You put yourself in a position where you can handle it better.

3.  Take Responsibility

A valuable lesson in learning how to stop making excuses is to take responsibility for your own actions.

Often we can feel trapped in a cycle of non-action because we believe someone else is holding us back.

But are they?  Have they explicitly told you not to do something?  Or are you using that as an excuse?  Time to be honest with yourself.

When you say that someone else is stopping you from doing something, it’s just another version of the blame game.  I hate to say it, but the only one holding you back when you make these statements is you.

You are where you are now because of the actions you’ve either taken or not taken.

The key is to start making choices to move forward.

learn how to stop making excuses by taking small steps

Big goals can be frightening, break them down into easy steps

4.  Break Things Down

Another common excuse for not taking action is because you feel overwhelmed.

I get it.  My lack of confidence came from feeling overwhelmed. 

When a lot is going on, everything seems to be coming at you at once.  I certainly felt that way.  I just didn’t know where to start, what I should focus on first.  The problem, I realise now, was that I tended to focus on the outcome required.   The great big hairy goal that somehow I needed to achieve. 

To learn how to stop making excuses like overwhelm, I learnt how to break the goal down into a series of much smaller action steps.  Because the secret is you need to take action, however small. 

My breakthrough came when I read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.  I discovered how I could break each goal into micro-steps; it also played into my love of list-making!

When I broke the goal down, I set dates for milestones that I wanted to achieve and then when I hit the milestone, I made sure that I celebrated them.  The celebration does not have to be expensive. A reward of a nice cup of coffee worked well for me.

Even by taking small steps, you will reach your goal.  You just have to hang on in there.

Woman with arm raised against a sunrise background

Know your strengths and embrace your personal power

5.  How To Stop Making Excuses Is To Focus on the Positive

It’s too easy to quit because you see all the ways you’re not good enough. Don’t focus on what you can’t do.  Instead, focus on your talents and abilities. What can you do?

My breakthrough to focus on the positive was to understand my strengths.

When you understand what your strengths are, you can then use them to your advantage.  Your strengths are your secret weapon!

Another practical approach is to understand what matters to you most.  Get to know what you stand for because you boost your confidence and come from a place of authenticity when you know this.

You might want to have a look at my comprehensive guide, What Do You Stand For? To learn how you can identify your core values.

What Do You Stand For?

Discover your very own blueprint for life … without spending hours navel gazing or getting confused! 

When you act following your values, you boost your confidence by being consistent with yourself and others.  Values influence your behaviour, and another big help to me was the positive impact on my decision making.  To learn more about How To Find Your Unique Values Click Here

Better yet, what can you learn to push yourself forward? By seeing what’s possible, you’ll shift your thinking over to someone more ready to act than hold back.

Remember, utilise your strengths in different ways; they are, after all, transferable skills.

6.  Do Something!  A Sure-Fire Way On How To Stop Making Excuses

I'm going to be brutal here, but do something!  

In the end, you have to act. Making excuses about being tired or not having enough time isn’t going to cut it.

If something is important to you, fatigue doesn’t matter.  Although if fatigue is a real problem, make sure you get enough rest. 

You’ll make the time (like you did when you binge-watched an entire series on Netflix).  There are also a number of other common procrastination habits and you might find the article discovering what they are and how to overcome them by clicking here.

The key is to take the first step. I can guarantee that you’ll be in a position to know how to stop making excuses when you take that first easy step.  The following steps will come much easier once you’re already in motion.

Next steps when read good things happen when you ask for what you want

To help you implement the techniques from this article and learn how to stop making excuses, here are some recommended next steps.

How To Stop Making Excuses When You Worry That You're Not Good Enough

Identify who you are comparing yourself to.  Make it specific.  It's hard to compete when your opponent is generic.

Look back on your life and make a note of any significant events.  

  • What did you learn from each event?  
  • With hindsight, what would you now do differently?  
  • How can you apply this insight into your life now?

When we learn, we develop new skills.  List out the skills you have.  If you struggle to find them yourself, ask trusted friends or colleagues.

How To Stop Making Excuses When You're Afraid Of What Might Happen

Grab a piece of paper and draw a two line down the page so you end up with three columns.  Put the following headers in each one of the columns:

  • Column 1 - Fear
  • Column 2 - What Could I Do?
  • Column 3 - Action

In the first column write down all the things you fear might happen.  Give yourself 10 minutes and focus on this exercise.  Write down everything that comes to mind regardless of whether you think it's silly or not.  If it's a fear that you have, then it's certainly not silly!

Then when you have your list, in the second column write down what you could do about it.  Let's take an example of a fear due to not knowing how to do something.  So in the first column you could write: don't know what I'm doing.  In the second column you could write ask someone who knows.

Answer all your fears going down the list.

Now you have a list of fears and some solutions to help reduce the fear.  The next step is to take action.

In the third column write down the first small step you could take to move yourself forward.

Back to our example:


I don't know how to do it

What Could I Do?

Ask someone


set a date for when you will speak to a specific person 

How To Stop Making Excuses Because You Think Others Are Holding You Back

If you believe someone is holding you back from achieving your big goal, write down on a sheet of paper all the ways you believe this to be true.

  • Ask yourself, have they actually said that?
  • Why did they give you that impression? (could be body language)
  • It's a family thing!

Okay, now this is a brave step.  You are going to have a conversation with the person you believe is holding you back.  Base your conversation on how you feel and don't make accusations.  Say something like, I feel you don't want me to do (insert whatever it is you think they don't want you to do).  Is my understanding of the situation correct?  If it is, I'd like to understand why you think that way.

Most of the time we believe something because we interpret it as the way we would respond.  But not everybody responds in the same way and their behaviour could be as a result of something completely different.

How To Stop Making Excuses Because You Feel Overwhelmed

Again, grab a piece of paper or open a new document on your PC.  At the top of the page write down your big goal.  Then spend 20 minutes writing down a list of everything that you can think of connected to how you can achieve it.

At the end of 20 minutes review what you have written.  Beside each item write down a general category it falls into.  For example admin, calls to make, and so on.

Once you've grouped like things together you can schedule specific time to get them done.  I'm always amazed at how much I can achieve when I put a bucket together of similar items.

You could go a stage further and add in how much energy it would take to complete the task giving a grade of 1 to 4.  1 = less effort and 4 = huge effort.

Once you have your list, you can then look to prioritise it.  But remember, you can only do one thing at a time.  So ask yourself the question: If I was to do just one thing today that would move me forward and feel that I've made a breakthrough, what would it be?

How To Stop Making Excuses Because You Only See The Downside

Misery loves company.  It's time to focus on the good things and this means looking at what you are good at.

Make a list of all your strengths - nothing gives us a boost more than realising that there are things that we can do.  If you don't know what your strengths are or finding it difficult to list them, enrol the help of a friend or two.  Sometimes we are blind to what we are good at because we take it for granted.  What you might see as ordinary may be extraordinary to someone else.

How To Stop Making Excuses Because You Feel Stuck

Do something.  Review the recommendations above and choose one to do right now.  Don't stop and think about it.  Read them through again and make a choice.  Then grab a pen and paper and get to work! 

Final Thoughts

By using these techniques, you’ll find you no longer need excuses. You’re probably feeling kind of eager to get to work about now. This is a good thing! So dust off those Big Goals because good things are about to start happening!


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About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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