How To Reframe 10 Common Excuses

We often hear them from others.

We also, unfortunately, hear them from ourselves.

Common excuses. “I don’t have time” or “I am not flexible”. I probably have used them myself all the time!

Excuses prevent us to do what we need to do in the moment or what we want to do in the future.

However, when we spot these excuses, we can reframe them into something powerful.

The following list contains ten excuses we commonly hear, including a short-term and long-term comeback.

Why long-term comeback? Because every excuse could mean that there is a very basic problem.

When I constantly don’t find the time to do something, maybe I am avoiding it altogether.

On the long-term, neither me nor you should do anything we hate.

Common Excuses No Time
This is what it means to have no time.

#1 – I don’t have time.

The conductor in my youth orchestra used to quip: “None of us has time.”

And it’s true! People who use this phrase usually do have time to watch their favorite TV show.

Or they use their time to have long interactions with others.

This may actually mean that they have no love for what they are doing and should think about switching. To a profession where they can interact with more people.

So the general comeback to “I don’t have time” is:

“If your favorite show on TV came up or your best friend stopped by, you would have time indeed.”

The long-term answer is:

“Reshift your priorities. Get your duties out of the way as early as possible in the day, then follow with what you like to do.”

If you organize your time into blocks as much as possible, you will reduce the transition times between different activities, which are the real time-killers.

#2 – I just don’t have the energy.

That’s a copout.

“If a lion pursued you right now, somebody tried to rob you or your kid was in trouble, you’d have all the energy in the world.”

There is also a long-term answer:

“Schedule your most important activities for the time of the day you are most productive (outlined in The ONE Thing).

Avoid activities that waste your energy – don’t drink too much, don’t stay up too late, don’t stay in touch with people that are draining the soul out of you.”

#3 – I am not as good as ‘person X’

That’s an unfortunate statement.

Because it reaffirms to yourself that you can’t grow.

It also focuses on scarcity – it emphasizes a lack in your level of proficiency.

So the quick answer to that statement is:

“Even person X had to start somewhere.”

The long-term answer is:

“You are yourself, and you are enough. Put one step in front of the other, it does not matter how you are compared to X.

It only matters how you are compared to last week. Is your life going up or down?”

If it is going up, never fret. Keep the pace for the next 10 years and you shall be golden.

#4 – I could not foresee ‘event X’

This is often used to blame responsibility on something outside our control.

First of all, anyone who uses this phrase has my partial sympathy, because at least he or she does not blame another man or woman. Which is also often easy to do.

However… suggesting that X was unexpected just means that you did not plan for contingencies.

So the fast comeback here is:

“Me neither, since I am not a psychic, yet I am here.”

The long-term comeback – which, as I said, is more of a response to yourself than to someone else – is:

“Next time include ‘event X’ in your planning.”

Chris from Good Looking Loser has a great article about this type of excuse.

He was waiting for an important package and almost missed it because it was delivered much earlier than he thought. Always be prepared.

#5 – I had to first do X before working on our project (or any other item)

This can be a quite reasonable statement. Yet it can also be used as a cheap excuse.

And it tells the other person that X takes precedent over their project, which is not always a smart thing to do.

Sure – an emergency like a broken pipe will force you to stay home and deal with it. Just don’t use it as an excuse.

The general reply here is:

“If you have to do X instead of our project, I will ask/hire someone who has more time.”

Longer-term reply:

“Rethink your priorities and make sure you can finish the job you were asked to do.”

#6 – I’m not an expert.

People who say that are experts indeed specializing in copping out.

Easy reply:

“If only an expert can do a job properly, society would not exist.”

Long-term reply:

“You don’t really need to be an expert. If you put in 100 hours of work and practise, you’ll probably be better than 90% of people out there.”

Learning something to get to a specific result may even take little more than 20 hours.

In addition, being above average in several disciplines can lead to being among the top 5%.

Let’s say you are above average (e.g. 60% – only 40% of people will be better than you) in terms of personal style, body fat, social anxiety/social skills, disposable income and maybe in one hobby.

That will actually put you into the top 1% (100% – 40% ^ 5) of all people. Without the need to be perfect in any one area.

I learnt the tenet of being “above average” from Good Looking Loser.

The site “GLL – Get A Life” or its slightly NSFW version have great advice in terms of fitness, style, dating and social life.

#7 – I’m not dressed well enough

This excuse often comes from people with a scarcity mindset – they are worried about how they come across to other people.

So that way, they are setting themselves up for failure.

So right away, my answer would be:

“Dressing perfect will not make you rich either – so let’s go ahead anyway.”

Long-term answer is:

“(1.) Go around with dishevelled clothes on purpose and see what the precise impact is – probably next to nothing.
(2.) Arrange your life so you are able to take care of dress, money and apartment in the future.”

Strive for looking good, but don’t tie your self-worth to your appearance.

#8 – It’s too hard.

My reply:

“Great! That’s your reason to do it.”

I talked about that already in a previous post about reframing.

The long-term reply is similar.

“Gravitate to where it’s hard, because that’s where growth will occur.”

#9 – That’s not who I am

This is an extension of #3, and might at least be halfway legit.

If you have the above sentence as a statement for your life’s vision, it may be ok. But be very careful.

I see people all the time being ‘who they are not’ once there is a proper incentive behind it.

If they see a golden nugget on top of a wall, I wager people can become ‘climbers’ pretty fast.

People have an amazing ability to change with the right incentive.

For that reason, I always take statements like “I am not like that” with a grain of salt.

So the immediate reply is:

“If that was my concern, I would have asked somebody else to do the job.”


“Do you really believe that? Would you still believe it if it had a clearer benefit for you?”

#10 – I don’t know how to do it.

Again, a copout – people hide behind their ignorance.

The general reply is reminscent of point #9 above:

“If there was a clump of Gold sitting on top of a building, you’d find ways to pick it up without ‘knowing how’.”

Long-term answer:

“Sometimes the most successful people get it done because they don’t know it’s impossible.”

#11 – Bonus: My panda ate my homework.

Common Excuses Panda Bear
No, this guy did not eat your homework. The other one might have, though.

Short term:

Pandas have better things to do than eating homework. That’s what hamsters do.


Let your panda know next time he does eat your homework, he has to do it for you.

you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.

Last challenge: Click me!

What is this challenge about? This link will teach you more.

And to get back to the main page, you can click here.

What are some common excuses you encounter?

How do you deal with excuses?

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments below!

(First image taken from Wikimedia Commons)