Ok, I need to rant for a second. Bear with me here. It won’t take long, but I have to get it out.
Because there's something I've been hearing lately that's been driving me nuts. And no, it's not when people misuse the word “literally," although that makes me want to punch things too. It's when people say they want to do something, but they “can’t."
- “I want to start my own business, but I can’t quit my job.”
- “I want to get in shape, but I can’t even do a push-up.”
- “I want to learn to meditate, but I can’t turn off my mind.”
If ever you want to see me lose my shit completely, just tell me in a matter-of-fact, there’s-nothing-I-can-do-about-it way that you “can’t” do something you want to do. Bonus Hulk Smash points if you add in a shrug that tells me that you have no intention of even trying.
Because it’s complete and utter bullshit.
Be ambitious, but realistic
Call me naive, but I firmly believe that we are capable of anything. Stop rolling your eyes, I’m serious here.
Ok, yes, I’ll concede that you have to be realistic. If you are 40 years old and your dream is to play professional football-- well, that probably isn’t going to happen.
But that’s just it. We set these unattainable dreams because we know it’s never going to happen, so we have a built-in excuse to not even try. It’s not “dreaming big,” it’s an easy out.
Take the 40-year-old with football dreams. Yes, you’ll never be able to play professional ball, but can you at least play recreationally? Can you coach a team? Can you get a job in your current area of expertise within a football league?
Basically, can you make the dream a little more attainable so you can actually do something with it?
I’ve written about this before: about setting SMART goals in order to make real changes. We need to start where we are and work up to it. And we need to appreciate the process, not just the final outcome.
On paper, it sounds easy. And if you do it right, it IS easy. Yes, it’s hard work, but by taking small, manageable steps, getting what you want is pretty straightforward.
But so many people get in their own way with this “I can’t” bullshit. Which just kills me because the fact is:
Meaningful change begins with the belief that change is possible.
One word takes "I can't" to "I can"
Without the belief that change is possible-- what personal development buff Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”-- change is impossible, simply because we believe it’s impossible.
Having a growth mindset means you believe you have the ability to improve, to change, to grow. In contrast, a “fixed mindset” is the belief that you are the way you are and there’s nothing you can do about it. A fixed mindset is an “I can’t” mindset.
So how do you go from “I can’t” to “I can”?
With one simple word: “Yet.”
Listen to the difference: “I can’t do a push-up.” vs. “I can’t do a push-up yet.”
This is what I mean when I say our words shape our reality: that tiny addition, that little “yet” has so much power. It implies that you might not be able to do it now, but one day, you’ll get there. It adds the possibility of change. It adds hope.
Even better, that “yet” begs for a “but” after it. It begs for action.
- “I can’t do a push-up yet, but I’m working on it.”
- “I can’t meditate yet, but I just downloaded an app to help me learn.”
God, I love that “yet.”
So what about you? What “can’t” you do right now? What do you want to do that you have convinced yourself is impossible? And how can you add a “yet” on the end of it?
Try it, in your head and out loud. Notice how adding “yet” changes how you feel and what you say. Pay attention to how others react to it.
You can’t even imagine how that one word makes your dreams accessible.
At least, not yet.