Why You Need to Start Tracking Your Excuses

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We slow down or give up for all kinds of reasons. Some of them make all the sense in the world; some of them say more about ourselves than we'd like. We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at the whole of our excuses, especially with an eye toward working around them going forward.


That's what author Leigh Stein says in a new piece for Forge. She writes about knowing that she does best with structure and accountability, so the obvious next step is toward list-making and journaling. "I had to work around my weaknesses on a daily basis," she says of the freelancing life. "But a lot of the weaknesses were just part of living and working."

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Ultimately, Stein realized she was creating patterns that only served one master: perfectionism. "Tracking my excuses helped me see that there are no perfect days for being creative," she writes. "The ideal conditions for completing any long-term project simply do not exist." That's enormously liberating, actually — tasks and goals are no longer imposed by an imperfect outside that's keeping us from our potential, but choices we can make every day.


In addition to logging your own behavior, it can always help to work down a checklist, whether for daily management or thriving in the big picture. Researchers also know a little about spotting the worst kinds of self-rationalization. First, however, it helps to have your own data in front of you. Read Stein's whole piece for more on her insights, and give yourself the structure in life to really break out.