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Our experiences lead to our beliefs; our beliefs lead to our actions; and our actions lead to our results. How we use words is one of the best indicators of our beliefs. I’ve come to notice that so much about how we believecan be gleaned through what we say.
Certain words predict how likely someone is to be proactive or reactive, positive or negative, and accountable or blaming. If we make the conscious choice to manage our language, it can have a major impact on our mindset — and in turn, our success. Here are a few examples.
1. “I’ll try” vs. “I will”
who overuse the word “try” rarely get much done. One of my favorite quotes is that “trying is just a noisy way of not doing something.” People who say “I’ll try” often give themselves an early out. It’s almost as if they’re prematurely making plans to fail. Since they don’t fully commit to getting results or executing whatever they say they’ll “try” to do, no one can really hold them accountable if they’re not successful. After all, they can always say, “Well, I never said I would absolutely do it. I just said I’d try. I did try.”
People who only commit to “trying” constantly allow themselves to make excuses over what didn’t get done. If you want results, stop saying you’ll try. Decide up front whether you plan to give something your all and your very best. If you really want whatever it is, then say “I will.” By making this small shift in your language, you send your brain signals that you’re serious and you become infinitely more likely to do whatever it takes.
2. “I have to” vs. “I get to”
I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me about something they “have” to do, either at home or work. When we say that we “have” to do something, what we’re really saying is that we don’t want to, but feel that we must.
Acting out of obligation or force is extremely demotivating. We get a choice in nearly everything we do. Sure, you might not want to take out the trash, but you do want a clean home, right? You might not want to run an errand for your spouse, but you do want a good relationship with them, right? You might not want to take on that extra project at work, but you do want to get paid and eventually progress, right?
When we recognize that the little things we don’t necessarily want to do in any given moment are the exact same things that lead to things we do want, such as a great relationship or promotion, we can choose to enjoy doing them. When we choose to view our daily tasks as a blessing instead of a curse, something changes for us. We feel a much greater sense of purpose and joy in our lives. We don’t feel like we’re at the mercy of life, but rather in control. We learn to see things positively instead of negatively. We are reminded that we’re fortunate to even have a house to clean or a job that pays us in the first place.
3. “I can’t” vs. “I can”
Many of us use this phrase incorrectly. When we say that we can’t do something, what we’re really saying is that we’re unable to. But sadly, so many of us have limiting beliefs about what we truly can and can’t do. When we say “can’t,” we expose those limiting beliefs.
As a runner, countless people with full use of their legs have told me that they “can’t” run a 5K, when I know they absolutely could; they’re just choosing not to. Many believe they can’t patch up broken relationships, can’t meet deadlines, can’t make the time to eat healthily, read or join that club they’ve always been curious about.
In saying the truth — that we choose not to do something because we’re either afraid, lazy or just have other more important priorities — we take accountability for ourselves and our decisions. Choosing to be honest about what we really can and can’t do removes the illusion that something is holding us back. We can then begin to accept reality. When we focus on what we can do, versus what we can’t, we begin to live with an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. We begin to think about what’s possible instead of thinking about what isn’t — which opens so many doors.
4. “You should” vs. “You could”
Recently I met a woman who told me all about a club she leads. As happy as I was that she heads up a club that is meaningful for her, I had zero interest in the club myself, nor had I expressed any. It dumbfounded me when she announced, “You should absolutely join this group!”
This happens frequently. We’re quick to tell people what they should or should not do, and many of us do this before getting nearly enough information about our listener and their interests, goals and dreams — we simply advise them on the basis of our own paradigms. Many feel that being told they “should” do something isn’t only judgmental or assuming, it’s downright offensive and disrespectful.
When we prematurely advise others before asking exploratory questions and asking permission to advise, we show others that we’re really not all that interested in their uniqueness, but rather, we’re mainly focused on ourselves. It exposes our egos and narcissistic sides. It sends the message that we think we know best. If you want to truly understand others, it’s always better to present possibilities by saying something like: “It sounds like this is a major pain point in your life and you’re seeking rapid change. One thing you could consider is…” By saying this, we make it clear that we respect their autonomy and free will.
Look for moments where you fall into these four traps, and I promise you’ll not only improve your relationships with those around you, but you’ll improve your relationship with yourself.