How to Stop Making Excuses

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Are you tired of passing the buck? Here’s how to stop making excuses and start accepting personal responsibility for a better future.

If you’ve done something wrong, it can be difficult to admit to others (and yourself) that you’re ashamed.

That’s where excuses come into play. You make excuses or lie instead of apologizing or saying I’m sorry because you’re scared to admit your weaknesses and faults.

But excuses are toxic to yourself and those you care for. It’s time to stop the vicious cycle and say “no more excuses.”

Why Do People Make Excuses?

The psychological term ‘cognitive dissonance” is the discomfort experienced by someone who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. If you make excuses, not only are you failing to admit your faults, but you’re creating more faults by creating excuses about them.

When you learn to stop making excuses, you can start taking control of your life. One of the common reasons people make excuses is that they aren’t happy with something in their life. This could be their career, family life, relationships, or finances, as a few examples.

Instead of taking personal responsibility, they make excuses and blame any shortcomings on other factors outside of themselves. Doing this can be disastrous when it comes to building your dream life and finding success in the future. You can’t wait around for the world to drop what you want in your lap. 

How to Stop Making Excuses

We’ve prepared a guide that helped us move past excuse-making. These 10 steps will provide a framework for taking control of your actions and accepting your decisions. It isn’t always easy committing to living with no more excuses, but it is fulfilling.

It also takes effort! So don’t be afraid to use this list – or specific parts of it – multiple times before the steps become habit.

1. Set Goals

A ship lost at sea in a thick fog.
Do you set goals to avoid being lost?

While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.

Maya Angelou

Many people accept defeat before starting a project because influences have convinced them that even just trying is a losing proposition.

It’s common for pessimists to immediately compare themselves to the most successful people in their desired fields. From there, they convince themselves that they will never reach that level. And maybe that’s true.

Not everyone who hits a free throw will become the next Michael Jordan. And an “A” in science class doesn’t guarantee a Nobel Prize in Physics. But your chances at achieving your dreams are completely diminished if you can’t get past your own insecurities, and there are no excuses for defeat by one’s own insecurity.

Think about this. No one counts the number of steps from base camp to the top of Mount Everest; that would be silly. By that same logic, you shouldn’t act as if a ladder to success only has two rungs. Make sensible, achievable goals to earn some satisfaction on the admittedly long journey from an amateur into a champion.

Not many people go from zero to hero in sixty seconds. But, the rise is the reason for the journey. Set small goals throughout your journey to success so that you can taste a series of smaller successes over time. These successes are ultimately just as sweet.

Try This: Start by setting a smaller goal that can pave the way for your bigger goal. The smaller goal you set should be one you can accomplish daily or weekly. The goal should also be specific.

For example, if your ultimate goal is to travel and explore another country, set smaller goals like determining which country to visit, picking a travel day, researching tickets and accommodations, and setting a date to book airfare. These small goals can help keep you on track toward your bigger goal.

2. Shift Your Perspective

Too many individuals immediately assume they don’t “have what it takes.” They see other, perhaps more naturally gifted individuals rise through the ranks quicker than they can and feel left in the dust. In truth, they might be the tortoise who overtakes the hare.

As the fable goes, people with a lot of natural talent tend to rest on their laurels. People who don’t start at the top push harder and climb faster to reach the peak.

If you don’t have the same level of skills as your competitors yet, treat this as a blessing. You’re just blood, sweat and tears away from earning your spot instead of just having it handed to you.

Try This: Stop watching other people succeed in life and take action in your own. Recognize that you are capable of growth and stop thinking of yourself as unworthy. Once you do this, you will realize you are just as capable as others.

3. Uncover Limiting Beliefs and Listen to Your Inner Self

If you keep waiting for the right moment, the opportunity you’re desperate for will inevitably pass you by. You won’t know it, because you never put yourself in the position to have that moment that could have changed everything.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

Abraham Lincoln

There are no excuses you can make for letting your life pass you by. Just going through the motions is unacceptable. You need to find your passion, and swiftly turn that passion into action. Getting up-and-running is the first and most significant step on a journey.

Related Reading: How to Build Self-Confidence and Value Yourself More

A limiting belief puts you in the wrong state of mind. It makes you feel more negatively about yourself and can restrict you in many ways. Often a limiting belief results from a false accusation you make about yourself and leads to more negative results.

Try This: Find new ways to connect with yourself and make a positive change. Observe your thoughts and feelings and avoid being too judgmental of yourself. If you become overwhelmed by your thoughts, focus on your breath and relax your body. Think about what you want to feel and listen to your inner self. Take accountability for your feelings and give yourself the extra attention you need.

4. Stop Procrastinating


If there is one thing that most learn in their early twenties, it’s that time is the most luxurious luxury. Unfortunately, time is mostly spent unwisely. You can save time by avoiding procrastinating, which can add hours, days, or even weeks worth of time back into your life.

Learn techniques for overcoming procrastination and figure out other parts of your schedule that could be expunged or cut down upon. Identify the things and people you want or need in your life, and get rid of the rest.

If you’re not being productive and not relaxing, you’re probably wasting your time. For example, a lot of us are guilty of spending, mostly wasting, too much time on our phones.

Try this: scroll through each application on your phone, and ask yourself these two questions. Are you getting any direct satisfaction from the application, whether it’s a game you’re playing or the social media platform you’re using? Is the application helping you improve yourself in some tangible way? If you can’t answer yes to either of these questions, you should immediately delete it from your phone.

Saving time can be that simple. And it’s very easy to translate this example from your phone to real life. If you decide to use this tip to de-clutter your life, there are no excuses for ever saying you’re too busy.

So, learn to manage your time well and balance productivity with enough relaxing activities to keep you productive for the rest of the day. You’ll be amazed at how far you go.

5. Don’t Dwell on Past Failures

Joe Louis Clark, subject of the inspiring 1989 film Lean on Me, says, “Defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.” He’s right.

Anyone afraid that they would be too traumatized by failure doesn’t understand the strength of the human spirit and its ability to cope with tragedies far larger than not succeeding at something. Believe in yourself and your fortitude, so you don’t give up on something too soon.

Those who have learned to stop making excuses can accept that they can’t get everything right the first time. The fear of failure is a primary reason many people make excuses and can also cause a dip in confidence.

Try This: Don’t feel threatened by failure. Instead, learn to use it to your advantage. Start facing your challenges and obstacles rather than running from them and expose yourself to more situations and opportunities where you can succeed and break away from your old patterns of falling to excuse after excuse for your inaction and failure.

6. Identify Your Weaknesses and Strengths

A small boat attempting to speed through a swell.
Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are?

The simplest and most dangerous excuse you can tell yourself and others is that accomplishing your goal is completely out of your power. Believe this, and you’re doomed.

There are no excuses for believing in your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Take pride in your accomplishments rather than have shame over the times you stumbled. One of the only ways something is out of your power is if you accept that it is.

Try This: Practice self-awareness. Take an honest look at your life and relationships and track what is and isn’t working. Knowing your weaknesses is a good step toward self-improvement and can help you find and capitalize on your strengths, leaving you with fewer excuses.

7. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

When you waste time comparing yourself to other people, you are focusing on all the things you haven’t been able to achieve. While other people in your life are achieving their goals, there are still others doing the same.

This doesn’t take away from your own success. Everyone is different and has different stages of growth. The only person in your life you need to compete with is yourself.

Try This: Start by becoming more aware of your triggers and avoiding them. Social media, for example, may be triggering as you see posts of people accomplishing what you may want to accomplish. This can spark negative feelings about your own life. Take a break, practice gratitude, and learn to be content.

8. Change Your Attitude

Another way to lead a life of no excuses is by picking yourself up after you fall down and changing your attitude. You have the power to change, but you need to be motivated to do so. When you feel defeated or complacent, you make more excuses. In the same respect, if you are used to making common excuses, you will continue doing so.

Try This: When you start making excuses, think about what you are making excuses for. What are you trying to avoid? Figure out what you are trying to get away from by making excuses, and you can then figure out how to address it.

9. Focus on What Motivates You

Stop making excuses and instead focus on what motivates you. How can you see your life change if you accomplish your goals? Visualize your success and think about what will be waiting for you when you reach the finish line. Visualizing your future success can definitely be the motivating factor you need to avoid making endless excuses and working toward achieving your goals.

Try This: When you visualize success, notice as much detail as possible. Imagine the feelings you will have when you reach the finish line. This can easily add motivation to your agenda and will encourage you to move forward so you can really experience those feelings and maintain a more positive mindset.

10. Take Action Every Single Day

Stop making excuses and act. This is the only way you can achieve your goals. Inaction leads to complacency, and this can result in even more excuses. No more excuses.

For example, have you been avoiding the gym because you don’t have enough time? Then set blocks of time in your schedule to get dressed and go. Act on the intentions you have, and stop using that time to come up with excuses.

Try This: Recognize that this step may actually be one of the hardest, but you are the only one who can make it happen. Challenge yourself to do at least one thing each day that works toward your goal.

Books on How To Stop Making Excuses

Need more help, motivation, or inspiration to avoid making excuses? Check out these no more excuses books written by Dr. Tony Evans.

Dr. Evans is one of the nation’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. He is a pastor, teacher, author, and speaker. He frequents widely syndicated radio and television broadcasts and serves as senior pastor to the 9500-member Oak Cliff Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.

No More Excuses by Dr. Tony Evans

The No More Excuses Bible Study Book teaches that sometimes circumstances make it difficult for people to be all they can be. Dr Evans encourages people to stop looking at their circumstances as excuses and see them instead as challenges and opportunities for success.

In this Bible study book, Dr. Evans includes content for eight sessions, personal study between group sessions, and applicable scripture and tips for leading a group. In this book, you will find sections about how to stop hiding behind the past, holding back, and no longer standing on the sidelines.

You can learn from the examples in the book on how to overcome setbacks and obstacles stopping you on the path to spiritual growth. You can find out how to fight for purpose and meaning in your life and learn how to make better decisions and take action while keeping your character intact.

No More Excuses: A 90 Day Devotional for Men

This book by Dr. Tony Evans can be your inspiration and will help you create the habit of overcoming setbacks and obstacles on your way toward ongoing spiritual growth.

No More Excuses: A 90 Day Devotional for Men is a book that will challenge you to lay down your excuses, stop compromising, and fight to be a man of commitment and godly character despite any hard circumstances.

Each day of this 90 day devotional and personal study book, you will find a scripture verse, challenging question, or short devotion to help you find purpose and meaning in your life.

It’s time to stay no to excuses. Throw away all the reasons you can’t do something and compile a list of reasons you can.

Photo of author

Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's lead editor and content writer, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.