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Master any skill by sucking at this one

Vindication is not your friend, and you should recognise that.

We all learn at a very young age it’s easy to justify almost any action with a well-crafted explanation. We’re punished more severely without one, and so it becomes natural as we grow up to develop this on a subconscious level.

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Here’s where you come in:

Identify when the wronged party is in fact, also the offending party.

We’re only human, so for many of us, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to excuse our shortcomings, because moving quickly on from an unfavourable situation detaches us from the pain. The problem is, we are wired biologically to avoid slowing down to consider who we’re trying to fool. If you want to make a real dent in that thing you’ve been putting off for so long, don’t take the path of least resistance because it often leads back round to square one, using a route that you yourself have created using shiny golden signs made of excuses.

Don’t be a professional rationalist.

We have the unfortunate ability to take our ambitions and possibilities, then over-think and over-process, which leads to talking ourselves out of them. There is a fragile part of the typical ego that clambers to excuse one’s self from anything difficult, complicated, or potentially embarrassing even if the embarrassment is internal. Because of our ridiculous, innate ability we have to unlearn or escape the habit with practice. Take your most recent failed endeavour and fill in the blank: “I probably can’t ______ because a, b, and c.”

Justification vs Excuses

Distinguishing between these two terms may help. A justification (or a reason) becomes an excuse when it’s used to avoid responsibility. This is true in law and it is necessary to hold the actor accountable for an act. Dave Anderson tells us there should be no difference when applied to your internal conflict.

It’s important to ask yourself ‘This happened, what am I going to do about it?’

Instead of exiting responsibility, we must push past what our lazy human brains want us to do. Don’t settle for an equilibrium, but find a way to work around problems rather than deflecting them because ultimately, they swing back around and hit you in the face.

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Keeping our goals strict and weekly, rather than monthly or yearly encourages relentless progress.

What frequently happens if a schedule is ignored, whether group or self-appointed, is that misused time passes at an exponential rate. It’s unfortunately all too easy to try rationalising our failures, and missing the first deadline will usually make us miss further deadlines.

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Full-time designer and consultant, rest-of-the-time writer aiming to teach from experience. Get in touch:

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