Exits

I turned on the TV just in time to hear John Maxwell (a popular author/speaker and leadership expert) say, “Excuses are like exits off the freeway.”
“Now, that’s a unique word picture,” I thought. The more I reflected on it, the more I realized that any time I make an excuse for myself, I am, in effect, exiting off the road that will take me to a goal I’ve set for myself.
 
Although most exits are adjacent to on ramps that provide a fast return to the freeway, all exits take time, and they disrupt the progress being made on the super highway. That’s especially true if the exit isn’t near a quick return to the freeway. If such an exit is taken, the driver sometimes must travel for miles before finding an on ramp. And if he’s unfamiliar with the area, he loses valuable time while searching for one.
 
With John Maxwell’s “Excuses are like exits off the freeway” ringing in my ears, I began to think about my life. I realized I sometimes spend as much time making excuses (exiting) as I spend doing those things that will enable me to reach my goals and dreams. In other words, I’m constantly getting off and on the freeway, constantly making excuses for myself, constantly taking the path of pleasure or the one of least resistance. (Is that true of you, too?)
Being so easily diverted makes no more sense than deciding upon a destination and making plans to arrive there at a certain time, only to cast aside all those carefully made plans and take little side trips, or stop to shop or stretch, and so forth. Although those kinds of diversions make the trip more enjoyable, they deter us from reaching our intended destination on time, don’t they?
In fact, if we exit too often, we may never reach our destination at all. Or we may discover that the plane, train, or boat left without us! Others got on board, but we didn’t. And if we miss our opportunity, we have no one to blame but ourselves, do we? Weren’t we the ones who chose to take all those exits rather than stay on course?
 
While thinking about how easy (and tempting!!) it is to make excuses, I recalled some advice I’d found in Marshall Cook wonderful book, Freeing Your Creativity. He urges readers to write down what he refers to as “after” and “if only” sentences. For example, after filling in the blanks in “I’ll ____after ____ happens,” list “reasons” for waiting until then to do it. Next, fill in the blanks in this statement: “I’d do _____ if only____.”
After listing all your “reasons” for not doing whatever you say you need and/or want to do, look carefully at each one. Is each a valid reason or merely an excuse? Be honest! Ask, “Why wait?” or “When will that be?” If a “reason” is indeed valid, then either deal with it or accept it. If it’s an excuse, refuse to use it any longer.
Remember, the more excuses you and I make—the more exits we take off the freeway—the longer it’s going to take us to get to where we truly want to be.
© 2005 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, whose web address is www.jgaskill.com . To request permission to use, please send e-mail to jjgask@charter.net .
 
But I keep working [journeying] toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be” (Philippians 3:12b, New Living Translation).
 
             
 

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