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5 Ways to Slay Your Excuses and Become More Productive

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“Everything is neutral until you label it, Michael.”


One of my mentors shared this during the early days of my near-death cycling accident recovery. I was having a low moment, and being honest, I was playing the victim and making excuses why I wasn’t all-in with my physical rehab. 

His guidance helped me reframe my situation, sparked my recovery, and boosted my career. It also helped me get back on the bike, and now, I’m celebrating twenty years since my accident by riding across America. 

If you desire to drop your excuses and become more productive, here are five ways I recommend to help you shift from why you can’t and to why you can. 

1. It Needs to Be Perfect

Who decides what is perfect? There are plenty of experts that don’t see the beauty in da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Perfect is a myth. 

“Perfectionism is a delusion that can rob one of a very successful, enriching life if not careful.”- April Bryan

Perfectionism is the fear that someone may not like your work. It’s a form of hiding and avoiding criticism. The way forward is to name and dance with your fear and accept that everyone may not appreciate your work, and that’s “perfectly normal.” 

Take a breath, understand the specs of good, great or excellent, embrace progress over perfection, and trust that we are all perfectly imperfect. 

2. I Don’t Have Enough Time

Unfortunately, we can’t make more time, but we can use each day wisely.  

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”Stephen Covey

This year allowed us to reflect on what’s important, so a productive first step is deciding what you don’t need to do anymore. Sometimes the best addition is through subtraction. 

Next, you can adopt an exercise I discovered from Ivy Lee. Each evening, list out your top six priorities for the following day in rank order and tackle them one at a time. This process will help you focus on the things that matter, nurtures your mindset, and demonstrates that you can get stuff done when you focus. 

3. I’m Not Smart Enough

While it’s true that there will always be someone smarter on any particular topic, it isn’t an invitation to beat yourself up.

“Everything is figureoutable.”  Marie Forleo

What I realized through my recovery and career is that life isn’t a solo project. We need each other to make things happen, and there are plenty of ways to gain knowledge like self-study, workshops, coaching, and leaning on others who bring more understanding to a project.

Trust that one day they will count on your expertise. So, don’t worry if you don’t know everything; you are smart enough to figure it out. 

 4. I Failed in the Past, Why Try Again

Resilience is the faith to rise after a setback and with an understanding of what didn’t work initially. 

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling

Everyone experiences moments when we missed the mark and later rebounded and achieved success. Pull these memories forward because there may be a few pearls from your past that you can use today.  

5. I Get to vs. I Have to

Developing a gratitude practice changed everything for me. Before finding gratitude, I saw many things as “have to” chores and spent too much time thinking of ways to get out of doing them. 

Gratitude helped me move from what I couldn’t do and didn’t have to what I could do and still had. I discovered that the joy of being alive is that we get to do things. Ultimately, life is happening for you, not for you.

For example, many dread going to the DMV, but we can look at it as a “Get To” experience because it means that we can drive or own a car, which are privileges not everyone has. Granted, the DMW may never be filled with rainbows, but we can change how we see it. 

There you have it. Five proven ways to reframe your perspective, slay your excuses, and get things done that matter most. Let me know what works for you. 

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Michael OBrienhttps://michaelobrienshift.com/
Michael OBrien is a leadership and resilience expert based in New Jersey. When he's not riding his bike, he loves preventing bad moments from turning into a bad day and hanging with his family and their furry four-legged friends.

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