Similar to cleaning your house, we hang onto excuses like old furniture. We see the excuse, know that we *should* get rid of that excuse, but for some reason, we keep it around “just in case” we need it down the road.

All we’re doing by holding onto the excuse is preventing ourselves from reaching our full potential.

Each excuse is like a safety net that prevents us from ever fully investing in growth. We’re always held back and confined to living a life short of our true potential.

Most of us hang on to that “just in case” excuse because we’re afraid. We’re terrified of going all-in on that goal because what happens if we fall short of reaching it? Who do we become if we don’t reach the goal we’ve set?

Thoughts about our self-worth and identity in relation to our pursuits run rampant. We’re afraid that any shortcoming related to our goals directly impacts our self-worth. In order to combat any potential loss of worth, we cling to these safety net excuses so that we have an “out” if things don’t work out.

That has to end if we want to reach our full potential and win in our career, our fitness, and our life. Here are the five steps you must take in order to cut loose your “just in case” excuses and start living your best life.

1. Own Your Role & Controllables Fully

You may not be where exactly you want to be this moment in your life. However, if you desire to change your situation, you must first accept the responsibility for your own actions in getting you to this point. Acknowledge them, and then set out to correct them.

In every situation, we only (and always) control four things:

  • Our attitude
  • Our effort
  • Our actions
  • Our focus

It doesn’t matter what someone else says to us, what the weather is like outside, how motivated we are/aren’t, or even if we think we were “screwed over” by a coworker, we still control those four things. Our most powerful skill is our response when things don’t go our way and that starts with ownership and controlling those four controllables every day.

Leadership starts with personal ownership. Ownership starts with claiming full responsibility for all of our decisions versus shifting the responsibility to someone else.

  • “It’s their fault I’m always in this mess.”
  • “They are the reason I’m here.”
  • “I didn’t do anything.”

A Competitor isn’t lulled into thinking they’re blameless and above everyone else. Taking ownership is a leader’s way of seizing the opportunity to solve their own problems, even if they aren’t 100% responsible for those problems. It’s not about what someone else did, it’s about how you’re going to respond now.

2. Take Action (Compete) Every Day

Most of our excuses are directly connected to the feeling of fear we have toward failure, others’ opinions, or the unknown. Fear is one of the primary reasons we use excuses. We are afraid to do something and instead of leaning into that fear, use that excuse in order to escape having to do it. But do you know what shuts up fear?

Action.

Taking action every day will help silence the fear and lower your desire to use excuses and quit. Even the smallest step forward combats our natural desire to run from anything causing fear and discomfort. It’s not about motivation. It’s not about being fearless. It’s about just taking a step each day toward your goal.

Take the step, even if you’re still afraid of failing. You’ll gain confidence with each step forward and slowly silencing those negative thoughts.

3. Set small benchmarks

Many of us save that “just in case” excuse for the big stuff. We want to have that out in our back pocket when pursuing an important goal just in case we discover how hard/far the process to reach it will be. It’s important that we learn to set small benchmarks along the road to our main goal in order to keep us focused on the short-term and remove the need for a quick “out.”

We increase our motivation each time we reach a benchmark, helping us to continue pressing onward and removing the need to use that exit excuse. Short-term focus on today’s progress and necessary action steps help us remove the need for “just in case” excuses because we aren’t consumed with how much work is left or how far we have to go in order to achieve our desired goal.

4. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Perfect is a myth. Many people cling to their “just in case” excuse because they want to have an exit strategy when the initial work toward their goal is sloppy, slow, or doesn’t work. They have this idea in their head that unless it’s perfect from the get-go, they shouldn’t do it.

This thinking is what leads so many people to miss out on ever reaching their full potential.

There’s no such thing as a perfect start. Everyone starts sloppy. Even with natural ability, no one is skilled at something until they do the work to improve. The sooner we learn to remove the weight of expecting perfect and instead simply focus on our progress, the sooner we’ll be able to achieve greatness. It’s a slow process, but by focusing on small benchmarks (#3) and simply making progress each day, we can reach those goals – without our excuses.

5. Have an Accountability Partner Hold you to the Plan

Friends who allow you to continually use excuses instead of calling you out on them may not actually be your friends. True friendship requires both parties to hold each other accountable to an agreed-upon high standard. An accountability partner is crucial to cutting loose our excuses.

I have coffee twice a month with one of my accountability partners. At the first of the month, we write down the 3 things we aim to accomplish this month. At month’s end, we determine if we hit the goal or not. If someone makes excuses, the other party is encouraged to call them out and help them create a plan to get it done.

To cut all of the excuses out that you’re hanging on to, find a friend who’s willing to give you a pair of scissors.

Get Rid of your Safety Net to Succeed.

We only fool ourselves into believing that we can reach our goals if we continue to cling to our “just in case” excuses. It’s time to cut loose the excuses holding us back so that we can successfully compete every day for what we truly desire.

We can keep our excuses or we can reach our goals. But we can’t do both.

Choose wisely. Compete Every Day.