Language is a powerful tool we use to connect the things we want with things we do, yet our words are more revealing than we realize.
Some phrases and language we say gets in the way of our success. Let’s take a deeper look at three phrases you say often and the effects of them on your potential.
What we say continues the pattern of getting in our own way.
#1 – Someone urges you to dream bigger, you respond with “I can’t.”
- What it really means: You’re not capable of doing something or you do not want to do something.
- What it looks like: Your reasoning appears like a knee-jerk excuse rather than understanding the situation fully. You’re telling others, “I can’t. End of story. Don’t even ask me about it.”
- What you can say instead: “I have had this one idea, and I need more information before I commit to it” or “I’m feeling a bit unsure. Would you help me talk it out?”
#2 – When working towards a big goal, you hesitate and say, “Well, as soon as I…”
- What it really means: There is something you’re intentionally putting on hold because you don’t believe you can have it now. You are choosing to keep the goal far into the future.
- What it looks like: Black and white thinking that there is a single path to reaching your goal. In some cases, yes, one thing before the other. Question yourself, “What assumptions am I making?”
- What you can say instead: “This goal is so important to me, I’m open to bringing it forward every single day, rather than wait until after I …” (See related: Conquer Your Fear of Change in Just 5 Minutes)
#3 – Anytime you say, “But…”
- What it really means: You’re looking at the situation with a more closed than open mind.
- What it looks like: You don’t see opportunity and instead only see obstacles. You are playing devil’s advocate with yourself.
- What you can say instead: “And…” Yes, it’s that simple to replace the word “but” with the word “and.” Speak every single sentence in the positive.
With practice, you can change your language choice and raise awareness for your thinking. As a professional Coach, I am reminded daily how much our thoughts influence our language and even further influence our actions. It doesn’t matter if these phrases are said out loud or internally, the effect is the same.
What we say continues the pattern of getting in our own way. It reinforces limiting thoughts and the reoccurring language, like these three phrases, that get in the way of our own success.
What would be different if you avoided saying these three phrases? You might articulate what you want rather than what’s not possible. You might remove unnecessary guilt associated with each of these perspectives. You might even loosen the story you’re telling yourself.
Think about the last time you said, “as soon as.” It’s not usually connected to a “feel good” emotion, is it?
How will you catch yourself using language that holds you back?
I’ve listed just three phrases, and there are countless others. What other words do you frequently hear yourself say that put a halt to progress before you get started? I’d love to hear your comments below.
Email me at email@example.com with your career questions or if you would like a PDF copy of this blog post.
— This article originally appeared on our blog May 28, 2013 —
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Jessica Manca, CEC, ACC is a Certified Executive Coach at Managing Mindspaces, specializing in professionals craving a career change. Jessica is the author of “Finding Passion: A Self-Discovery Approach for Navigating Career Crossroads” (2013), asking readers the questions they don’t know how to ask themselves in their career. Learn more at managingmindspaces.com or FOLLOW her here by clicking the blue FOLLOW button, on Twitter @mgingmindspaces, on Facebook, facebook.com/ManagingMindspaces.