Transform Your Goals: Stop Making Excuses and Rationalizations

Every so often, we wake up motivated and ready to set new goals. But what about those days when it just feels like a gosh dang drag? You guys, those days are the most important!

We might do great at nailing our goals for a bit, but then, our real lives—the lives we thought that for some reason were going to all of a sudden change—also hit full force, and we find ourselves ditching those goals. Sound familiar?

We’re going to transform the way we view two crucial stumbling blocks that often derail our goals, so that we can keep our goals and our integrity intact. What are those two stumbling blocks I’m talking about?

Excuses + Rationalizations

While on the surface they might appear to be the same thing, they are different. And they can wreak havoc on your goals if you’re not careful.


Simply put, excuses are the words we speak to ourselves—either vocally or silently—that are often the things we blame for not reaching our transformation goals. According to one study, we make 2,190 excuses on average every year. See if any of these sound familiar:

  • I’m too tired.
  • I’m too old, too fat, too…
  • I have little kids around all. day. long.
  • I work really long hours.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I can’t afford to join the gym.
  • I have an injury.
  • I have a health issue.
  • I travel a lot.
  • I don’t like to go to the gym.
  • I can’t, because…
  • I don’t have a support system.
  • I don’t like veggies.
  • This is just the way I am.
  • The treadmill is soooo boring!
  • And on, and on, and on…

We are brilliant excuse makers! But here’s what I know: Most excuses are rooted in the fear of failure, of what others will think of us, of change, of hard work, of the unknown, of discomfort, and so on. And our excuses can negatively affect our self-confidence, make us doubt our abilities, and even keep us from achieving our goals.

But you know what? There are really very few legitimate excuses. Injuries or health issues? Nope! I have never encountered an injury or health issue with myself or anyone I’ve worked with that can’t be worked around. And some of my clients have dealt with some of the most horrible things imaginable: Abuse, loss of a child or parent, eating disorders, loss of a limb, lack of feeling loved, and many others, and they were able to rise above these and reach their goals! I could go on and on giving examples of why those other excuses just aren’t valid, but I think you get what I’m saying. There really is a way to overcome any excuse.


We don’t only have to pay attention to the excuses we make. What about those rationalizations? The things we tell ourselves to justify not doing something, doing something, or both? They can be just as damaging as excuses when it comes to reaching our goals, and they can feel very real to us, even though they’re probably not. How can you tell the difference between excuses and rationalizations? The key word here is JUSTIFY: You’re trying to make something appear to be the truth or to make yourself look or feel better about something when the opposite is actually true. Here are some doozies so you can better see what I’m talking about:

  • I’ll start tomorrow. Today’s not a good day because of …. And tomorrow never comes!
  • I’ll start Monday. A new week will make all the difference this time! And then Monday after Monday go by without any action on our part.
  • I’ll eat this just this once. And then just this once turns into over and over again.
  • It’s a holiday…my birthday…my anniversary…my vacation…(fill in the blank). I deserve it! And then we often overindulge more than a little. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about enjoying those special occasions. But if we’re not careful, that special occasion indulging can creep into the days and weeks to come.
  • If I just finish this carton of ice cream, or this bag of chips…M&Ms…Oreos…etc., it will be all gone, and I won’t be tempted to eat it anymore. That’s a classic! 😉
  • I exercised today so I can eat extra calories.
  • And on, and on, and on…

If any of these lists I’m sharing are making you cringe, first of all, you’re so not alone. I’ve said every single one of these things to myself at one time or another. Second of all, there is a way to stop these goal-halting issues!

Top Tips for Getting Rid of Excuses + Rationalizations

How do we eliminate excuses and rationalizations so we can reach our goals? Here are my top 7 tips to help you not only recognize when you’re falling into the excuses and rationalizations trap but to also help get you closer to nailing your goals.

Tip #1. Keep a list of every excuse and rationalization you think and speak. Besides being rather enlightening, you might even get a pretty good chuckle from how creative you are! Once you’re aware of what you’re doing, you’re better equipped to make changes and catch yourself when you start to go down the excuses and rationalizations rabbit hole again.

Tip #2. Do one small thing today to work towards your goals. It could be as simple as moving for 5 minutes, drinking an extra cup of water, eating one more vegetable, writing in a gratitude journal, reading a few pages in a personal development book that aligns with your goal, or whatever super small thing that helps you progress towards your goal. One small success leads to many others, and keeping things super simple can help send those excuses and rationalizations packing for good!

Tip #3. Find and live into your WHY. Why? Your WHY is the foundation for everything you do in life. If something doesn’t align with your WHY, or if you find yourself making excuses and rationalizations, going back to your WHY can be a game-changer when achieving your goals and becoming who you want to become.

If you haven’t discovered your WHY yet or you need a WHY refresher, this post is for you!

Tip #4. Reevaluate how you spend your time. Here’s a simple but powerful truth: We make time for what’s important to us. Is your time filled with unimportant but fun time wasters that turn into excuses? (Social media scrolling or endless Netflix binging anyone?!?!) Go through your to-do list and calendar every day to make sure you’re not giving your precious time to things that aren’t important to you, then make changes where needed so you can spend time on your highest priorities, including your goals.

Have a hard time saying no to things that aren’t priorities in your life? Me too. In fact, I’ve got a whole blog on this! Check it out here.

Tip #5. Make sure your goals are crystal clear. When things are muddy, it’s so much easier for those excuses and rationalizations to get in our way. I love setting SMART Goals because they not only take away any goal-related fuzziness, but they also give me a concrete plan of action, which goes a long way towards eliminating excuses and rationalizations in the first place!

Tip #6. Get creative and think outside the box. Can’t work out because you have kids? Find ways to work out WITH the kids. Find yourself skipping fruits and vegetables? Prep some ahead of time so you can simply grab ‘n go. Forgetting to drink your water? Set some alarms on your phone as reminders. Sometimes rethinking how we do something is all that’s needed to overcome those self-imposed obstructions. Likewise, remember this important thought: “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.” ~Unknown. Nuff said. 🙂

Tip #7. Give yourself lots of grace. You’re going to mess up, and that’s a promise. So, when that happens, gift yourself with some grace, add to that list you’ve been keeping from tip #1, learn from the experience, and keep going! Just because you let an excuse or rationalization trip you up doesn’t mean you’re a failure. We only fail when we quit, and we’re not quitters!

This year, let’s get to work and become doers, not excusers + rationalizers! Which tip will you try out first? Let me know in a comment below and then come back and tell me how you’re doing. We can do this!


Need more ideas to help you get rid of excuses + rationalizations? I’ve got you covered!

5 Workouts You Can Do Anywhere
Sleep Is Overrated. Not.
Injuries Are Not Excuses!
Top Ways Accountability Can Supercharge Weight Loss
Prioritize YOU: Why Work/Life Balance Matters in 2021

6 Responses

  1. Hi Heidi, this is Emilie from France 🙂
    Just to thank you for the motivation you, Chris (and also Jacqui McCoy, my favorite EWL candidate so far <3) are giving me everyday. Can't say how much you help me on my weightloss journey but also on my everyday life. I only have some 20 pounds to loose now, I lost 50 pounds last year and I've been plateauing for a few months but your posts help me going on and stay motivated.
    I also want to thank you for going on sharing with us all your pictures, posts and motivational messages, whatever the reactions are. Your experience and your help is really helpful. Just to let you know that positive and thankful thoughts are targeting you and the Powell pack, each and everyday :-))

  2. @ Leah…the other Leah, I am breastfeeding my 4 mo old too. Do you track your calories? If not be sure to do that but add in an extra 400-500 each day for breastfeeding. If you are creating too much of a calorie deficit it will affect your supply. Also make sure you are drinking lots of water and are getting plenty calcium. Good luck with it and congrats on your wee one. 🙂

  3. I hope you don’t mind me posting this question here- but as a breastfeeding mom of a 3 month old, my milk supply has reduced significantly as I have increased my exercise. Do you have any tips since you exercise so much and breastfeed 🙂 thank you!

  4. Hi Heidi,

    I love the idea of listing your excuses and rationalizations. I do some of the ones you listed. I hate the treadmill with a passion and I live in rainy Oregon BUT I will still run outside even when it’s raining OR I will go over to the gym by me and run laps around the basketball court (I got 8 miles in which was a lot of laps about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I am a stay at home mom of three (oldest will be five on Monday and youngest is 4 months) and it’s hard for me to workout with them around sometimes SO I either have them work out with me OR I wait until they are in bed. I will be writing my list of other excuses and making a plan to get past them…the most important part of my plan is to never, ever give up!

    -Leah, a low thyroid mom of three on a budget…and still getting it done!

  5. OMG! I think I have used all of the above. For the past 2 weeks I art attend going back to the gym doing Zumba, Bootcamp and Tonning. I feel much better and energized. However, I need to change some of my eating habits. I am Puerto Rican and we tend to eat RICE everyday. I am trying my best to eat salad for lunch but when I get home I eat my plate of rice with beans. I am 41 years old, only 4 11′ and I weight 167 which is a lot. I am trying to lose about 50 pounds. I need help. I have to say that your show Extreme Weight loss was my motivation. Thank you!!!

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