Tag Archives: excuses

Exercise At Any Age

The concept of age is a funny thing. As Mark Twain once said,”Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” It’s a number; a number that represents our number of annual trips around the sun; a representation of our passage through man made markers. People talk about wanting to live long, fruitful lives and then get all depressed as they age. Here’s the thing: we’ve ALL been aging since the day we were born and the process will never stop until that unfortunate day. So rather than stress or worry or make excuses about a natural, uncontrollable process, why not make the best of it and run with it? And exercise is and should be a huge part of that.

Keep Moving

Physical movement is so much a part of who were are (we were born with arms and legs) that to not move is like throwing in the towel. Today’s world provides too many distractions to keep us from moving, albeit limited. TVs, iPads, Netflix, increasing seated work schedules, etc. Inactivity has become such a part of our landscape that it’s almost taken for granted and accepted. When inactivity creeps in, so does a plethora of issues that at first don’t rear their ugly heads until it’s almost too late. Enter exercise to the rescue. Yes, something as simple as exercise, in no matter what form or type, has proven benefits to reversing all of the negative outcomes of inactivity. But you knew that, right? What about my age? “I can’t do what I use to do.”

Age is No Excuse

“Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.” (Gabriel García Márquez) When age is thrown in as an excuse to avoid physical activity, that is when the biggest intervention has to begin. It has to start with a mindset. If you think you’re old, then congratulations – you are old. Again, let me remind you that we’ve been aging everyday since we were born. But if you take a much more positive mindset, such as beginning minimally and progressing to a more involved process, you’re on the right path. Research has shown that no matter what age you start exercising, it’s never too late to reap the benefits. If you’ve exercised your entire life, great. Understand though that the way you worked out in your teens and twenties might need just a little tweaking. Exercise is never intended to cause bodily harm and if it does, it’s generally operator error and not the exercise itself. With age generally comes wisdom. Be smart in your choices and understand there’s nothing you can’t do. Age should never be your limiting factor.
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. (Madeleine L’Engle)

Exercise Selection

Just because you identify as “old” doesn’t mean you’re limited to “old” exercises. What I mean are these pathetically easy exercises that even a novice eye would see and ask “Is that even worth it”? Well, yes if you’re just starting. But just like the twenty or thirty something, eventually you need to and will progress for the exercise benefits to continue. I have current clients in their seventies that would easily embarrass most 30 year olds! They’ve progressed to do things that most people their age would label as “crazy” but I can assure you the only crazy ones in that equation are the disbelievers. One more gem of advice: “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” (Michael Pritchard) Keep laughing and keep moving.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

Your Holiday Survival Guide

‘Tis the season, or should I say ‘‘tis the season for unwanted pounds. Every year without fail, the holiday season rolls up on us and cares little for how you take care of yourself. The excuses compound, the social calendar explodes, and then there’s the holiday feasts themselves. Do you keep your daily regimen or do you think you will get restarted after the New Year? Either way, it’s a tough proposition to consider. One requires effort unlike any other time of year and the other, well, let’s just say is a form of surrender. It doesn’t have to be that way and following are some helpful tips for you to use and pull out ahead.

  • Schedule time to exercise. If it’s not scheduled, it will very quickly get passed on faster than you can slip on the ice. It doesn’t have to be your normal amount of time either. Set up 20 or 30 minute workouts which still leaves plenty of time to shop. And stick to it! Before you know it, the season will pass and you’ll either be on par or behind. Your choice.
  • Enjoy your holiday parties. No one likes a Scrooge. “I can’t eat this or that” will dampen a festive mode like 10 feet of snow! Go and enjoy but be mindful. Have a drink, have a bite, and don’t think one indiscretion is going to ruin you. If there’s going to be multiple parties, treat each one exactly the same and understand you are the one in control. Always.
  • Burn calories whenever possible. Some of the common sense things:
    • Do not fight for the up front parking spots at the shopping center. Instead park way in the back and walk, safely of course.
    • If you’re going to be traveling in airports, walk and don’t use the mechanical sidewalks.
    • Stand while baking or cooking.
    • Join the carolers and walk the neighborhood even if you can’t sing.
  • Calm down. The world isn’t going to end if you forget that one gift. Chances are it will still be there when the time allows. There’s no room for unwarranted anger over the holidays, unless of course your boss is like Clark Griswold’s.
  • Cherish every single moment. The holidays for many unfortunately is not a joyous time of year. Whatever your issue, someone has it harder. Make the most of your time whether with family or friends or even by yourself. The holiday spirit is real if you let it in.
  • Read and enjoy my 12 Days of Fitness which will begin on December 12th. 12 days of articles I’ve been working on throughout the year to help get you through the holidays covering a wide array of fitness topics. Feel free to share and pass on to others.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

What’s Killing Your Progress

You did it! You started working out; joined a gym; committed to a healthier lifestyle. You’re proud of yourself….except, you have nothing to show for it. May be you’re feeling better, clothes are fitting less snuggly, perhaps even you dropped a couple pounds. But you want more. It’s not enough. You put in the time but still have little to show for it. What gives? Exercise, while it’s a simple thing, causes more heartache and frustration for those looking towards it to be a Holy Grail of sorts. Well, I can tell you that is not but that doesn’t mean it’s bad either. Exercise is good and with a better mindset and preparation, it should never frustrate you. Following are several little things that you may be doing that are killing or at least slowing your process:

1. Your mindset stinks. I’m exercising so I’m “entitled” to results. NO! That mindset stinks. Simply exercising only guarantees one thing – may be a little sweat. You need to work. You need to apply yourself. You need a goal, something to drive you.
2. You don’t have a goal. Simple yet overlooked by many. It needs to be specific, not general. It needs to be the light of every workout. Otherwise you’re spinning wheels to no where.
3. You keep doing the same thing(s). The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Exercise is a stress, albeit a good stress. When you begin to exercise, your body adapts to the stress and you see and feel a result. But after a while, that stress needs to change or you’ll stop changing.
4. You don’t respect exercise. That’s right! As Rodney Dangerfield use to say, “I get no respect”. So what do I mean when I say respect the exercise? Know what you’re doing and why. Don’t “go through the motions”. The yield is always zero and for those who think something is better than nothing, they’re not respecting the power of what exercise can do for them.
5. You view exercise as a hobby and not a task. I’m all for people really enjoying their exercise like it’s a hobby but at its root level it’s work. That’s why it’s called working out. Brushing your teeth is not a hobby; it’s a task. Exercising needs to be like brushing your teeth. It’s just something you need to do. And a hobby can too easily be pushed aside.
6. You don’t fuel properly. I can’t tell you the number of times in my career when a client came to a session under nourished. Exercise is a physical activity, hence you need to fuel for the activity. Fat stores don’t release on their own. A body working with proper nourishment however will ignite a furnace in the body and one that will allow you to get the full benefit of the session.
7. You ignore sleep. Sleep is by far the most underrated component of a healthy lifestyle. The body needs rest, otherwise it’s burning on fumes. Trying to fit in the daily activities with exercise with poor sleeping patterns and something is going to give.
8. You think you know it all. Trust me. 23 years as a fitness professional and I still don’t know it all. There’s always something more to learn and more to try. If what you’re doing is not working, you don’t know it all. Be smart enough to admit that fault. No one is going to judge you.
9. You’re willing to push but not willing to stop/slow down. This is a common phenomenon with those wanting “quick fix” fitness. They want it now when in reality they’ll only end up disappointed now. The mentality of just pushing/working harder inevitably leads to exercise injury or worse, cessation.
10. You compare yourself too much to others. This is so unfair to you and the person your comparing yourself to. Why? Most likely, you know nothing about them and they know nothing about you. Two different people working towards two different goals. It’s one thing to work with or consult with someone who can help you. It’s something else to mirror someone not knowing their current path.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

When To Push, When Not To Push

Exercise is good! There is no doubt to that statement. Can one do too much? Absolutely! In times when one is feeling too good or just being stupid, too much exercise can and will become counterproductive to the original course. But how much is too much and what about all this rhetoric about pushing it to the limits? Do you need to always keep the pedal to the metal so to speak when it comes to exercise or is there a happy medium?

When To Push

In my many years of being a fitness professional, I’m convinced that many have no idea what it means to increase their exercise intensity let alone understand what that means. In simple terms, intensity is simply a term used to describe how hard you’re working. It can be measured subjectively (“Man that kicked my ass!”) to being measured objectively (heart rate, time of rest periods, watts, etc.). What matters most about intensity is that if you’re someone who exercises regularly expecting some sort of result, you need to have an objective measure of intensity. Whether it’s for health reasons, aesthetics, or performance, at some point you have to push beyond the “comfort zone”, a term used to describe where most find solace in their exercise routine. The issue with “comfort zones” is that nothing happens there. The individual who exercises by just going through the motions falls into this category. Some would say something is better than nothing and while that is only mildly true, most who exercise do have a goal or agenda that will yield something. Going through the motions and not pushing a little more effort is going to yield zero to minimal results. So how much do you push and when do you do it? First, establish a goal. Why do you exercise? Next, establish what it is you wish to accomplish through exercise. Be leaner? Decrease blood pressure? Be stronger? Run faster? Third, determine that your exercise needs are met by the exercises you choose to engage. Once you have established all three, then you can look at how to push and increase your intensity. Maybe it’s five more minutes on the treadmill at a slightly higher speed. Or it’s an increase in reps of a strength training exercise. Or it’s a decrease in time with more work being done. There are simply thousands of ways to push it but it has to be objective and measurable. Then you can truly track and see progress.

When Not To Push

Aside from the obvious, exercising through pain is never a good thing. Pain is your body’s signal that something’s not quite right. But I will also warn you that muscle soreness and pain are not one in the same. How do you know? Well, experience will tell you a lot but most times the complete range of motion of a muscle is not completely inhibited. Being sick is also a good sign to not push it as not all sicknesses require a cessation in an exercise program. There are going to be days that are harder than others and that’s to be expected. Listening to your body is a skill that gets perfected over time – knowing when to take it easy or a day off. When you start to think of every little thing to “skip” or “delay” a workout, chances are good that although the intentions were good initially, they quickly became lost and excuse making becomes the norm. Exercise is a stress; a stress that evolves and adapts. If you don’t evolve, the impact, the positive effect of exercise, becomes lost.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Having no time to exercise is an excuse I’ve heard a thousand times over the years. This time of year probably represents the time when that excuse is given the most. Whether you’re an avid exerciser or someone that just likes to use this time of year to justify why you don’t exercise regularly, there’s always an easy solution – no excuse!

It’s All in Your Control

It’s one of the most common patterns I see as a fitness coach: People trying to get (and stay) in shape work out diligently for months, then get derailed by the holidays. Many then “fall off the wagon” for the rest of the year or start the New Year with a hope that this is the year only to try to do too much too soon. It’s a seesaw that plays out physiologically too. Exercise regularly and you get a training effect — adaptations in the brain, circulatory system, respiratory system, metabolism, muscles, and bones that optimize health and function. Stop exercising and your body starts adapting to that — doing nothing — so you start to lose all these benefits you worked so hard for. The best choice is to not ever stop but keep going in whatever capacity that you can. That’s why I came up with this short little do anywhere, no need for equipment workout that will take all of 5 minutes to do. If you can’t take 5 minutes to invest a little physical capital now when the time constraints are at an all time high, your chances of success throughout the year are looking a little hazy.

5 Minutes, That’s All

Everything here is adaptable to your current fitness level and physical capabilities.  You can shuffle exercises around or skip a few of them, come up with different ways to add resistance, etc. The most important thing is that you just do them if not to just keep moving. Each exercise is for 1 minute

  • Squats: Stand upright, both feet wider than hips width; flex the knees and hips and extend the arms out in front, keeping the head up. Substitute: Sit down and stand back up from a chair.
  • Marching in Place: Stand tall and march the legs, bringing the knees above the hips, and swinging the arma forward and back
  • Russian Twist: Arms out to the sides like a “T”, rotate the torso left to right.
  • Get Ups: From a standing position, squat down to place both hands on the floor. Extend one leg straight back followed immediately by the other until you are in a high plank position. Reverse the process by bringing both legs forward and then return to a standing position.
  • Reach Down and Up: Keeping both legs straight, reach down towards your toes and then reach them up and over your head.

See you tomorrow for Day  5 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise

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(This is part 1 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

The holidays: a time for loving, sharing, giving, and receiving. It is also a time where priorities shift and we become engulfed in the season. For many, the season is just another time of year where exercise time might be compromised but never missed. However, for most it becomes yet another excuse for skipping or missing workouts. After all, January 1 is right around the corner. So the holidays become an excuse now but when happens when they are over? See if you are guilty of one of these reasons and maybe, just maybe, we can change that.

  1. No time in my busy schedule. Classic. Everyone does not have the time for what they don’t value to be important. If it’s important, if it’s a priority, you DO make the time. One of my favorite quotes of the year was, “Do you know what the most dedicated people and the laziest people have in common? The same 24 hours!”
  2. No energy, lack of discipline. No or low energy is a sign that your nutrition is poor. Lack of discipline is a mindset shift. Improve your nutrition (not dieting) and set a realistic expectation on yourself.
  3. Not enjoyable. There are countless ways to create physical movement. Find one, something, anything that you enjoy and can see doing all the time. Don’t rely on doing what you think you should do. Just do it!
  4. Expense of equipment, clothes, or membership. Want to dress it up, look the part, be able to brag to your friends? Go for it. But when it comes down to it, all you need is a body. That’s it! Nothing else.
  5. Distance / inconvenience. This might be the only real legitimate excuse. Research has proven that anything beyond 12 minutes of travel time is a good distractor for many. Even then, outfit your home with some basic equipment; do bodyweight training; get outdoors; make it work.
  6. Boredom / lack of variety. No one said you had to stick with something that does nothing for you. Change it up. Do something different at regular intervals. (See #3) Have fun with it and see it not as a chore but something that will make you feel better.
  7. Injury / health problems / chronic physical discomfort. Injuries and health issues are not to be taken lightly. However, when they become the crux of why you don’t exercise as opposed to the reason why you should exercise, you wind up wasting time and waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Hint: there is no perfect time to begin
  8. Embarrassment / social discomfort. Most of us who exercise regularly began just like you – intimidated, scared, or embarrassed. What you really need to understand and appreciate is that most don’t care about what you’re doing. They’re quietly happy to see you doing something, taking care of yourself. You are one of the few.
  9. Lack of understanding of the benefits of exercise. In today’s world where information is merely at your fingertips, there’s simply no excuse for not knowing the how or why. Seek the help of a professional to guide you along the way.
  10. Apathy. No one sees something as valuable until it is taken away from them. With exercise, there are no guarantees but with the short investment of time and energy on your part consistently, you CAN control the quality of your life.

See you tomorrow for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

 

How Do You Spend The Other 23 Hours?

There are hundreds of excuses people use for not getting regular exercise but lack of or not having enough time probably takes the cake. Just within the past week I came across one of the best quotes I have ever heard and quite possibly now my all time favorite. “Do you know what the busiest person and the laziest person have in common? The same 24 hours!” It pairs beautifully with another favorite quote of mine like a fine wine to an exquisite meal. “If it’s important, you’ll find a way. If it’s not important, you’ll find an excuse.” Getting enough exercise should not in today’s day and age be something that’s put off until it’s convenient or the “perfect” time. Mounds and mounds of ever growing evidence supports that a regular AND consistent adherence to exercise is a HUGE counter to the staggering list of preventable ailments and maladies. Yet time becomes this insurmountable obstacle to a healthy lifestyle for many

I Simply Don’t Have The Time

There are 24 hours in a day; 168 in a week; 672 in a month; 8064 in a year. Consider that the average American works 200 hours/month; sleeps 180 hours/month – leaving approximately 292 hours/month for everything else: travel, social time, family time, chores, shopping, etc. Now here’s the good news. No one is saying that exercise requires an hour daily commitment. Even so, that’s only 30-31 hours still leaving about 260/261 hours per month (65/week). See why I have a hard time hearing that excuse? It’s totally invalid and a clear indication of a lack of commitment, dedication, and value for one’s own well being. Exercise unfortunately only gets the priority at the start of a New Year, an impending vacation, wedding, or reunion when time ultimately is at a premium and exercise will fail most. Exercise is but one component of a healthy lifestyle and unless there’s a mindset shift to acknowledging and understanding this, it becomes easy to quickly sweep under the carpet as non-important and skipped until it’s deemed convenient.

Shifting All Priorities

When exercise is looked at as the be all to end all it’s guaranteed to leave a trail of disappointment. Exercise is not enough. Repeat. Exercise is not enough. Too many begin an exercise program, join a gym, hire a coach/trainer and blindly believe that was the biggest, most important decision they had to make. Now they’re exercising and everything is going to be hunky dory and magically improve overnight: weight is going to come off, energy levels are going to improve, strength and endurance are going to improve, etc. That is until the newness of exercise wears off and none of or only a few of the aforementioned benefits come to fruition. Then the mindset shifts to where if exercise is good, more must be better and more exercise is partaken leading to possible burnout or injury/illness. Yes, it’s possible to over do it with the exercise but that’s usually a trait of those refusing to change anything else about their lifestyle except exercise. Most people don’t have that problem for the issue here is really about many not taking or making the time to exercise yet suffer from the same issue the avid exercisers make – what they do when they’re not exercising.

There’s Still Plenty of Time

Make time to exercise – check. Are you making healthy food choices, including but not limited to more home prepared meals and less eating out? Are you getting enough sleep, avoiding late night urge to watch late night talk shows (digital recorders are a great thing), binge watch Netflix, troll social media, or play computer based games?Are you naturally managing the stress in your life by being more aware of your dominant stressors and letting go of the things you can’t control.(hint: exercise provides a great outlet here too!) Are you engaging in behaviors that are obvious to negating healthier choices by keeping alcohol and over indulgence in treats to special occasions? The sobering news for many is that there is no amount of exercise that can erase all misgivings. So if you commit to the absolute minimal amount of exercise, your little progress if any will all but definitely be erased unless a healthy mindset shift takes place. And if by chance you find that you exercise more time than anything else, you’re missing the point of what exercise is supposed to be: a healthy stress for the body to build, repair and maintain health.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2012 – Day 10: Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise and Their Solutions

(This is Part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. As a fitness professional for almost 20 years, I’ve heard them all. None of them are any good, particularly when they’re accompanied by the justification for them. Just say “no” and at least we know what the true intention is.  The fact of the matter is, most will always find a reason for coming up short or not succeeding in what they hoped would be different this time. So here are 10 of the top excuses I’ve heard and since I don’t handle excuses well, I’m going to offer my response to each in a positive, constructive way.

  1. No time in my busy schedule. We all have the same 24 hours in a day: from the neurosurgeon to the President of the United States. You don’t have the time because you don’t make the time.  Schedule workout time just as you would an appointment for anything else, even if just for 15 minutes.
  2. No energy/lack of discipline. These two often get lumped together with one generally causing the other and vice versa.  No energy is a direct result of lousy nutrition and/or poor sleeping patterns.  Lack of discipline comes from not a true desire to accomplish something. True desire trumps discipline every time. The quick fixes? Clean up your eating, get ample rest, and set a true, attainable goal.
  3. Not enjoyable. Find something you love, not like, to do. We brush/floss our teeth everyday (at least I hope so) and I’ve never found anyone who says they really love brushing/flossing their teeth, yet we do it.  There are literally hundreds of ways to get physical movement. Sure, there are those that are better for attaining specific goals, but just first find something that gets you moving and keeps you moving.
  4. Expense of equipment, clothes, or membership. Give me 10 minutes and I’ll work you harder than you ever worked minus equipment or the need for special clothes in a space no bigger than your bathroom. Fitness can be obtained without any of those things. All it takes is a body with arms, legs, a heart, and lungs.
  5. Distance / inconvenience. If you can step out of bed, you’ve already reached your destination. But if you do need to travel for your fitness, industry statistics prove that any further than 10 minutes away and adherence drops off by 66%.  Find something close and convenient.  The backyard is usually not too far away.
  6. Boredom / lack of variety. Again, there are literally hundreds of different ways to get physical activity so there’s no excuse. Find something that at least gets you excited or least creates some anticipation for attending.  And if you need variety, just take whatever you do and change your approach every time. (i.e. exercises you do on certain days, new way to do cardio, reps and sets of a particular exercise, etc.)
  7. Injury / health problems / chronic physical discomfort. First, get those physical ailments addressed; don’t use them as a crutch for more sitting.  Check with your doctor before moving on from a health issue or chronic condition.  But I can tell you from many years of experience, I have worked and met with clients who continued to move despite the beliefs of many around them because they made a conscious choice to do so.
  8. Embarrassment / social discomfort. Start in the comfort of your own home.  When you get moving and feeling a little bit better, move on to more public settings, although still not necessary.  Understand this though.  If you go to a health club or gym, most of the people there once started out just like you.  And now, they could really care less about what you’re doing. Walking in is the victory.
  9. Lack of understanding of the benefits of exercise. Whether new or experienced, I never assume what a client knows or does not know. Ask questions, read, work with a professional, etc. Just don’t blindly head into an exercise program and think you know what you’re doing. Could be the difference between continuing and quitting.
  10. Apathy. I have found that this is the summation of the previous 9 excuses. But if some or at least one of the 9 excuses can be resolved, I’m confident that apathy quickly diminishes.  However, for those who never really see, want, or appreciate the benefits of physical activity, there’s really not a lot to say except I wish I could have the opportunity to convince them otherwise

I conclude by sharing with you a quote I came across within the past month.

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something you accept no excuses, only results.”

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 35,300 push ups done as of publishing time

 

 

No Excuses

no-excusesNo excuses – quite possibly the favorite of expression of most physical trainers, and this one is no different. It is a common slogan in athletic environments, often seen on the back of t-shirts and sweatshirts or on the walls of weight rooms and locker rooms. These are two simple yet powerful words. The slogan urges athletes to maintain their focus and to put in the physical and mental work needed to perform at their best. Simply put, there is no excuse for doing something that could prove to be detrimental to performance or avoiding the work that needs to be put in. Yet think about how often we make excuses that impact our careers, our livelihood, or our health.

Maybe it is an excuse not to get a task completed today or to skip the workout. Maybe it is an excuse you make in order to justify that second helping of dessert. Or maybe it is you blaming the weather, or your negative attitude, or worse, someone else for your lackluster performance in the boardroom or on the field of play. There is any number of things you could blame for why you were not prepared to perform your best. No excuse. As with many of the mental skills and concepts you can read and learn about, the notion of making no excuses, of holding yourself accountable for your behavior is easy to understand but much more difficult to implement.

While the words are powerful, it is the action behind the words that speaks volumes. Do you back up these words with action? For example, anyone who has ever competed as an athlete can readily identify when excuses have been used as a crutch, but by then it is too late, as the workout or performance has already been compromised. Think back on the past few weeks of your work or your exercise program and identify the situations where you may have allowed excuses to impact your behavior. Were there moments where you thought, in retrospect, “I could have given more,” “I should have gotten up earlier to exercise even though the bed was more comfortable”. My guess is most of you can identify at least one situation where you came up with an excuse to not work as hard as you could have, to not exercise on a given day, or to explain a less than stellar behavior. Awareness of instances where you make excuses is important as it is through this awareness that you can attempt to change future behavior.

Besides opening your eyes to the excuses you make, an additional challenge is to figure out how to be pro-active as opposed to reactive. So, instead of identifying excuses after the fact and “kicking yourself ” for it, work to seize them before they impact behavior by identifying your tendencies and patterns. It is a tough challenge, but here is an example that may help you understand how to do this and why it is so important.

As is increasingly more popular this time of year, Mr. X as we will call him has committed to running a marathon in the fall.  He does not miss a day of training. He has been training hard for the past several moths and tends to do decent in trial races but never quite achieves his performance goals. When critically analyzing his preparation and training, it becomes evident that the truly “hard workout days” present a barrier for him. On these hard training days, Mr. X has a tendency to back off a bit. He always has a reason for backing off —one day it is the wind in his face; another it is the slight twinge he felt in his quad earlier that day; another it is thinking about the work that needs to be done back at the office. Despite that the reasons differ every time and appear separate, are these in fact excuses, perhaps? Mr. X tends to come up with seemingly valid reasons not to get after it on his hard training days. But in analyzing his preparation, it is interesting how these things only pop up on the hard days. His training is just where it should be on the lighter days. In looking back and analyzing his performance, Mr. X recognizes that he is making excuses, and just as importantly, he realizes how important those hard days are to reaching his goals. It finally clicks in his mind that there is a cause-effect relationship and those excuses are keeping him from performing at his best.

Apply this to yourself. Do you have excuse tendencies? It is important to identify these tendencies as it becomes easier to than avoid them. By knowing unique situations or factors that seem to relate to coming up with excuses, you can be pro-active in avoiding them. For some of you, it may also be valuable to dig deeper and take a look below the surface to see what might be going on. Is there a reason why you are coming up with excuses that need to be addressed head on? There simply is no excuse!

Featured in June 2009 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

Taking Responsibility

finger_pointingWebster’s Dictionary defines “responsibility” as the state of being responsible.     (You’ve got to love those entries that use the word to define itself).  To better understand its meaning, the root word “responsible” is defined as being accountable, answerable, or important.  Therefore, responsibility is the act or state of being held accountable, having the solution or answer, or being important for having such. In today’s workforce and most recently in our government, responsibility is a term that gets thrown around a lot with very little understanding of what being “responsible” truly means.  More precisely put, there seems to be more ir-responsibility in today’s world. It is much easier to place blame, point the finger, stand there with arms crossed, or “let someone else worry about it”.  The truth of the matter is, unless we can grasp what it means to be responsible, than it is safe to say that no one has responsibility.  That statement could not be any farther from the truth.

Consequently, we are all responsible.  We are responsible for ourselves, our health and well being, our actions, our life choices.  We are responsible to our families, our friends, our employers, our employees, and if you own your own business, you had better be responsible to your customers.  Our individual levels of responsibility are just that  – individual.  The President has a higher level of responsibility than a corporation’s CEO.  A parent has a greater level of responsibility than does their child. In regards to your health and vitality, no one has a greater responsibility to you than you do.  Yet as previously mentioned, more of us want to place the responsibility on someone or something else rather than taking it on our own.

Following are a few insights about responsibility and what it means to take “real” responsibility and not just pretend to:

  • Responsibility means no excuses. Responsible people do not make excuses.  An excuse is nothing more than an admittance of guilt without exactly saying so.
  • Responsibility is a choice. Everyone has a choice whether to be responsible and who to be responsible to and what they will take responsibility for.
  • Responsibility is taking action. Responsible people are results oriented. They focus their energy on producing favorable results, not contemplating the what ifs and should haves.
  • Responsibility is inherent.  While that may seem contradictory to responsibility as a choice, on some level we have to hold ourselves accountable simply because survival is a responsibility, not a rite.

We all have so many responsibilities (e.g., family, friends, work, financial, organizations, etc.) that no one is immune to them.  How we handle the responsibilities says a lot about the kind of person we are and the things we want, not wish, to accomplish. At every turn and with each passing moment they say opportunity knocks.  Welcoming, embracing and creating opportunity is exactly what taking responsibility is all about.  Without responsibility, the world as we know it today would not even exist. Do the right thing: stop making excuses, start taking action, and take responsibility.

Featured in October 2005 Issue of 422 Business Advisor