Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best-selling author of books on habit strategies talks about the mind games we play that can have an adverse effect on our actions. She teaches us to be aware of the “Strategy of Loophole Spotting” to gain control over those thoughts that inhibit our willpower.

Here is a summary of several loopholes identified by Rubin. Can you relate to any of these? If you want to gain more insight to all the loopholes, seek out her book Better Than Before.

       1.  False Choice – the act of using a lame excuse for not being able to follow through on an action.
             a.    Example: “I can’t work out because I am a parent”.


     2.  Moral Licensing – the act of excusing ourselves to do something “bad” because we have been good.
           a.    Example: “I’ve done so many Christmas errands, I deserve to buy something for myself”.


    3.  Tomorrow Loophole – we have all been here when we think, I can skip today because tomorrow, I will make up for today.
          a.    Example: I can eat this entire package of cookies because tomorrow I start a clean slate.


   4.  Lack of Control – the act of blaming extenuating circumstances on our lack of discipline.
        a.    Example: “I can’t help myself. When I work at the coffee shop, I must get a muffin. They are so good; I can’t help it.”


  5.  Planning to Fail – we put ourselves in circumstances that set up for failure.
       a.    Example: You find yourself walking past your favorite bakery or ice cream parlor when you are on a diet.”


  6.  This Doesn’t Count – the act of letting the circumstance give excuse.
       a.    Example: I am on vacation, I am sick, it is the weekend.


When we recognize in the moment that our emotions are playing games with what is in our best interest, we can turn off the excuse switch.  How about, I need to work out because I am a parent and I want to be healthy for my children, or, I have done so many Christmas errands, I can give myself 30 minutes to relax and have a cup of tea, or, I really need to start that diet today; if I allow myself to eat this box of cookies today, tomorrow it could be a pint of ice-cream.

Self-discipline requires some work. The question is how much do you want to change? Why is it important? What matters most? If you need some help understanding your why, please email for a consultation on how you can switch the excuse button. To receive our monthly newsletter, click here: