10 Common Excuses That Could Be Holding You Back

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2_LoopholeIllustrated by Tida Tep.
I’ve written a lot about loopholes. In my forthcoming habits book, I identify the multiple strategies we can use to shape our habits. I love every strategy and every chapter — habit-formation is an intensely interesting subject — but my favorite chapter is the one on the strategy of Loophole-Spotting. Loopholes are just so funny.

Below, I’ve listed the ten categories of loopholes. When do you invoke loopholes?

I have many examples in the area of eating and exercise. When do you invoke loopholes at work? with your family and friends? In your spiritual life? With clutter? I would love to see more examples. I love loophole-spotting! If you want easily to scroll through them all, start at the last one because each post includes a link to the previous day.

1. False choice loophole: “I can’t do this, because I’m so busy doing that.”
2. Moral licensing loophole: “I’ve been so good, it’s okay for me to do this.”
3. Tomorrow loophole: “It’s okay to skip today, because I’m going to do so well tomorrow.”
4. Lack of control loophole: “I can’t help myself.”
5. Planning to fail loophole: “How did I get here? Well, now that I’m here, I must indulge.”
6. “This doesn’t count” loophole: “I’m on vacation,” “I’m sick,” or “It’s the weekend.”
7. Questionable assumption loophole: "I don't have everything I need so I can't start."
8. Concern for others loophole: “I can’t do this because it might make other people uncomfortable.”
9. Fake self-actualization loophole: “You only live once! Embrace the moment!”
10. One-coin loophole: “What difference does it make if I break my habit this one time?”

When we catch ourselves invoking loopholes — which is easier said than done — we give ourselves the opportunity to reject the loophole. Often, they flit through our minds so quickly that we don’t even realize that we’re invoking them.

So, how about you? I’m eager to hear more examples of loopholes — especially, as I mentioned, in non-eating and -drinking contexts. Battling clutter, getting work done, making time for spiritual pursuits, maintaining relationships with family and friends.
Gretchen Rubin, author of two New York Times bestsellers, is our go-to gal for the best get-it-together know-how. Every week, she'll be dishing up her wisdom straight from her popular blog, The Happiness Project, to get you on the road to a more productive, healthier you. Here's to a 2014 resolution that sticks!