Are These 2 Words Sabotaging Your Success?

[fbls] As some of you know, Lisa and I recently took custody of my soon-to-be-12-year-old cousin and are raising him as our son. We couldn’t be more excited. He’s a great kid and he’s fitting in really well with us.

At the same time, we didn’t raise him for those first 11 years and he has patterns in how he thinks and how he speaks that are the antithesis of what we as a family believe and operate under. I don’t blame him for the things he was exposed to and the habits he developed prior to coming to live with our family. However, we do expect him to take full responsibility for his thoughts, choices, and actions moving forward.

He can’t change what happened to him, but he can choose how he responds to it and he can choose how he lives from here forward. The same goes for you. You can’t change what happened to you, but you can choose your response. (Tweet this.)

One of the things we instituted in our family was a swear jar. It was originally called the “crap jar” until we realized that talking about the jar required us to use a word we didn’t want him to say. Now, we refer to it as “The Ugly Jar.”

The basic premise is simple: if you say something “ugly”, you put $1 into the jar. Now, for the record, the “famous” swear words come with major punishment. The Ugly Jar is really for words or phrases that hold no place in our family or our vernacular.

There are two phrases that our son REALLY didn’t want added to the list because he really struggles with saying them. The first, we’ve already covered on this blog: “It’s not my fault.” This phrase, even in a joking way, is never allowed.

But there’s a phrase that is perhaps even more deadly to a person than the phrase “It’s not my fault” and that is these two words: “I can’t.

I’ve learned from my own experience and from the experience of my clients, friends, family members, and people in general that there is nobody who can keep you from reaching your goals other than you. And the only way we keep ourselves from reaching our goals is by believing that we can’t reach them. (Tweet this.)

When things get difficult, we think or say, “I can’t.” The minute we say that, we’re right – we can’t. Henry Ford said it best we he said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Most of us (myself included) don’t realize just how much we say those two words. Here’s a partial list:

  • I can’t figure this out.”
  • I can’t get this done in time.”
  • I can’t get to the gym today.”
  • I can’t stay focused.”
  • I can’t lose weight.”
  • I can’t get a job.”

What’s worse is that statements that begin with “I can’t…” are rarely this short. They’re usually followed with the word “because” and an excuse that shifts the blame away from ourselves.

“I can’t get a job because the economy sucks.”

I have clients that are on pace to double or triple their business this year simply because they believe that they can find new ways of generating business. They refuse to believe they can’t. I have other clients that are starting new businesses and are on pace to surpass $500,000 in sales in their first year. Why? Because they believe they can.

Next week is the week where most people begin to fall off of their New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because they don’t believe they can actually accomplish them. And the sad thing is, they never actually believed it when they started out. Why? Because the only thing that changed is the year – not the person living it.

Change begins and ends in your mind – not in the changing of calendars. As my dad was fond of saying, “You take YOU with you wherever you go.” Well, you brought the 2011 you into 2012.

How do we change ourselves? Here’s the first step: take responsibility for – and control of – your thoughts. It’s amazing how one little jar can have such a huge impact. Make it a family activity or do it with friends who truly want to improve. You’ll quickly realize just how much you’ve allowed yourself to get away with.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2

In what area of your life have you been limiting yourself by thinking or saying the phrase, “I can’t”?