Priorities vs. Excuses

I am no stranger to excuses. In high school I fell into a particular school of thought that encouraged the pursuit of easy things. Mostly this manifested in my schoolwork; I excelled in English because it came naturally, I struggled in Physics because it didn’t. Logically it’s sound. Besides long-term-reward type thinking, why choose the hard thing?

If all you’re working towards is getting through the day with relatively little effort, the easy thing makes the most sense. It keeps your stress levels to a minimum, boosts your confidence levels, and is sustainable. You might not see consistent promotion, those rock hard abs you’ve always dreamed of, or the finish line of an Iron Man, but you will experience happiness in the most contented form. Depending on who you are, you may not find anything wrong with that. For about 24 years of my life, I didn’t either.

It wasn’t until I actually put effort into something that I realized the rewards were worth the sacrifice. The tricky part, though, is finding the thing that’s worth the sacrifice. Oftentimes, before you can commit, doubt sets in, and the urge to make excuses is too strong to stand against. Chores like laundry, grocery shopping, and fixing household gadgets are some easy go-to excuses that trick you into thinking you no longer have enough hours in the day to possibly pursue whatever challenge is nudging you. It’s an excuse I’ve made and an excuse I’ve heard over and over again. But here’s the truth: there’s time if you make time.

Take ultrarunner Sally McRae for example. The 34-year-old member of the Nike Elite Trail Team is also a mother of two and manages to balance a grueling training schedule, motherhood, and her personal coaching business. In an interview with Outside Magazine Sally said, “Stop using parenthood as your excuse not to run or workout…being a good parent doesn’t mean you throw your health out the window; it also doesn’t mean you teach your children that when they, too, become parents, that their goals and dreams are no longer important.” (You can read the full article here). McRae plans out her entire day to the hour the night before to ensure there’s enough time to fit in all she has to accomplish.

Another example is Michaela Kiersch, a 22-year-old professional climber and senior at DePaul University who manages to fit in a full course load, rigorous training schedule, and coaching five days a week at the local climbing gym. Kiersch made the first female ascent of “The Golden Ticket,” a 5.14c in the Red River Gorge. In the short film about the ascent, Kiersch talks about her hectic schedule, “I only have a couple time slots throughout the week and if I don’t climb on Monday’s at 2:30 exactly, then I can’t climb again until Wednesday at 10am. And then the drive to the Red is seven hours, and every weekend we just make this trek, this mindless drive to Kentucky, and we do every weekend without fail.”

I can hear the excuses already, “Yeah, but they’re professional athletes, it’s different.”

But where do you think they started?

I’m not saying we all need to take up some crazy-intense Double Iron Man training plan. I’m also not saying it has to be an athletic endeavor. It could be a creative pursuit. Learning the guitar, writing a book, and baking are also activities I’ve personally put off because I “didn’t have enough time.” Truth is, I’ve always had enough time, just not enough drive.

I say we all start with something small. Everybody has at least ten minutes to spare in any given day. Use that ten minutes for something you’ve always wanted to make time for. Do it for yourself. Someday that ten minutes might turn into thirty might turn into an hour, and before you know it, you’ve found the key to unlocking time by pursuing the things you love.

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