The best excuse

I have posted about priorities, motivation and common obstacles for getting started on a life of stylish minimalism. Today I want to address excuses. In short, there is no valid excuse. I believe excuses are a commonly accepted way to claim the desire to change but to not.

But why would someone make the claim? Why do we say, “I really should go swimming” or “I want to finish that photo project” and then follow up with excuses why we haven’t?

I think the answer is usually something along the lines of what other people think. What they expect. Who we think we should be. I have a real problem with living life like this — because it’s NOT LIVING your life. Decide who you want to be, and make no apologies for it. Nobody can argue what you want. And I’m not talking hedonism here. Working on the big picture priorities (your life vision) is not always fun. But turning down other peoples’ priorities is going to happen a lot.

If something is a priority, it’s important. When you know something is important – really important – you don’t make excuses. Instead of saying “I can’t” you ask “How could I get this done?” and start making changes to get yourself there.

If you “really should go swimming” but obstacles come up (and you’re making excuses) I urge you to check if this is really a priority if your life. Once you know it IS a priority, check out this post on how to get and keep yourself motivated.

If you still can’t get started, what’s stopping you?

So what’s the best excuse?

And if you scrolled down here without reading the above, I applaud you for trusting your judgement on what’s important and spending your time accordingly. Hooray!

The best excuse (even though I hate calling it that, it’s more of a reason) is: “That doesn’t fit with the vision I have for my life so I’ve decided against it.”

I’d like to close with an example from my own life. A few years back I started learning how to play the clarinet. I enjoyed it and made great progress in only half a year. When I devoted a lot of daily time elsewhere (4 hours daily commuting plus 3 hours a week studying) I didn’t have time to practice. Music is a priority to me, bringing me peace and joy. So I eliminated everything else less important but still couldn’t make enough time. I made the sad decision to stop playing clarinet. I hoped to take it up again once I moved and finished studying but then I had some children, and they take up even more of my time.

I was realistic enough to realise I will not have time to learn in the forseeable future so I sold the instrument. When someone asked me (taunted me?) if I was still playing, my answer was a guilt-free “No, I don’t have the time.” Without going into my reasons/excuses why I don’t have the time. It effectively ended that topic of conversation. I can’t tell you if the person asking was disappointed to miss out on the “yes, but”  game… but I can tell you I felt and still feel at peace.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t doing something… that’s fine. Let it go. Don’t make excuses and don’t beat yourself up. I believe in hard work, building your life towards fulfilling your life vision. But if something does not fit into your plan, let it be.


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