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“When, then” and the Habit of Making Excuses

out of the blue June 14, 2010
In this post, Jaimy advises to skip the excuses and head straight to the good stuff …
Excuses are like armpits. Everyone has them, and they all stink.

Although I hate the picture that adage paints (mostly because it reminds me of my longtime phobia of being in a crowded public pool and accidentally running into some sweaty guy raising his arms and getting his big, stinky, hairy armpits all up in my face), I will support its truth. Formulating excuses is super easy. Because, we all know that making false promises – to ourselves or others – is much easier than the alternative.

That’s when we all fall victim to what I’ve dubbed the ‘When, Then Syndrome.’ You know what I’m talking about – the formula goes a little something like this:

When (action) happens, then I’ll do (action).

My personal, go-to when, then is:

When it’s nice out, then I’ll exercise more.

I say this for a good six months straight during Midwestern ‘winter,’ until the temperatures warm up. The reality though is obvious: It doesn’t have to be nice out to exercise. Part of my rent each month even goes toward an on-premises gym membership. Seriously! Yet, I still find a way around working out during winter months (usually the ‘way’ involves staying warm in my apartment with a bottle of Riesling and Donald Draper).

When, then excuses have a habit of creeping their way into both our personal and professional lives, especially when it comes to trying something new, venturing into the out-of-the-ordinary or otherwise changing our normal pattern of action.

Whether it’s strengthening your social media presence, diving into the world of mobile marketing, or implementing a Twitter strategy, it can be easy to put up roadblocks along the way, rather than just biting the bullet and going for it. I’m sure you’ve all heard when, thens like these before:

  • When we have the budget to hire a social media manager, then we’ll be able to really kick off our Facebook strategy.
  • When we learn more about how to make online videos go viral immediately, then our organization will really crank out some content.
  • When we complete our 12-month plan for our Twitter strategy, then we’ll be able to begin implementing it and drive online sales.

Look at these when, thens. Written down, don’t they just scream ‘excuse’? Yet, I know how easy it is to let these phrases slip out. They happen during the workday within our own heads, are uttered during small-group marketing meetings and even have a presence in C-suite strategy sessions.

So, let’s stop them in their tracks. Let’s make a pact to break free from the debilitating whens, and go directly to the thens. Think about all you could have accomplished in your past if you went straight to the good stuff. Now, also take a second to think about what your organization could collectively achieve if your team starting doing, without waiting for the qualifiers.

We’ve all got when, thens in our lives. What are yours? What is the “then” that will you accomplish today, tomorrow, this week, this month, that you would’ve normally put off until another action triggered its implementation?

Got one in mind?

Great. Now, go do it.