Wednesday May 31, 2023

Can We Take a Minute to Talk about Excuses?

And yes, I know, people don’t always recognize their excuse as an excuse. They prefer to see it as a “reason.” 

An excuse is defined as an attempt to lessen blame. In business (including freelance writing or freelance of any sort) it involves you knowing that you didn’t do something. Maybe it was not meeting a deadline. Maybe it wasn’t providing the best possible job that you could. It’s the statement you tell yourself and / or the client about why you screwed up. You knew you had a job to do and you didn’t follow through. Maybe you didn’t manage your time well. Maybe you didn’t account for the proper resources (as opposed to the client knowing they must provide you with something and they didn’t give it to you).

Clients, especially new ones, don’t care if you’re tired. They don’t care how you necessarily feel on any given day. They didn’t hire you to make a friend. They hired you to meet a goal. Do NOT say to them, “Sorry – this isn’t my best work. I don’t feel well / didn’t have time / didn’t feel like it / didn’t sleep / had to work a full time job.” I’m of the opinion that if it wasn’t an emergency or medical issue involving your child, you accept full responsibility. And if you can’t do that, maybe running a business isn’t for you.

I’ve said it before…probably a million times – there’s no such thing as sick leave. You do the best you can or you ask for an extension. You can ask for an extension and say that you’re unwell and would like to ensure that you provide the client with the best possible project.

There are legitimate ways to talk to your client without providing an excuse about why what you’re giving them isn’t your best work. 

I’m Moderately Neurotic about Deadlines & I Speak from Experience

“You don’t know what it’s like. You don’t have another job but working from home.”

I hear that a lot. I started my business when I had two other traditional jobs. I had younger children. I still have a younger child with special needs at home. So, yeah, I do know what it’s like. I still have days where I freak the fuck out over my own deadlines despite my ritualistic planning. After I have my little freak out, I suck it the fuck up and I get back to work.

I had to meet deadlines while teaching college and working a law firm. I had to meet them for the college, the firm, and my freelance clients. Also, kids. So, I don’t tolerate excuses very well.

The Difference Between a Reason and an Excuse

I’ve already defined excuse for you. A reason is the cause for an event. For example, I recently returned several hundred dollars of escrow money to a long-term client because we couldn’t meet the deadline by working together. It had nothing to do with my contact. It had nothing to do with me. The reason was because the people who should have provided the contact with information so I could do my job simply didn’t do it. I don’t know what the third-person involved had as far as an excuse or reason, but we had a legitimate reason. The contact couldn’t control the actions of another person they relied on for information…and that meant I wasn’t given what I needed to write their white papers.

So, make the commitment – no more excuses. The majority of your life is totally within your control since you’re an adult. Suck it up. If you want to be successful, suck it up, take responsibility, and make it happen.

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