Today I am letting you in on a secret. A secret I typically reserve for clients only. To my clients reading this, not to worry, you’re well on your way to putting this secret into practice, the part that tends to be hardest! And for the rest of you, get ready.
And the best part?
It’s really simple.
Picture yourself at the start of the week. It’s Monday morning, and if you’re like most people, you are feeling a bit tired and grumpy and wishing the weekend had lasted just a little bit longer. But it didn’t, and Monday is here.
You look at your to-do list, whether typed, written or stored in your brain. What do you see? Do you see a big long list of things you are dreading doing? A list of never-ending items? What do you tell yourself about doing these things? What words do you use?
I’m guessing you use a lot of two words in particular – two words I ask my clients to ban from their vocabulary when it comes to action plans. Two words I used to use a lot.
What are these words, you ask?
We associate these two words with not wanting to follow through on something – or at least that’s how our brain understands it.
Here’s how it comes up with my clients. We get to the part where we set their action steps for the week; they say something like, “I’ll try to make it to one yoga session this week” or “I should book that uncomfortable conversation with my boss.” That’s when I stop them and share what’s coming next.
By using try or should, you are not committing to the actions tied to them.
By saying “I’ll try,” you’re already giving yourself an out to not follow through. It’s feeding your ego and ridding you of your guilt before you even give yourself a chance to do it. If you were only going to try and do it, but then don’t, you’re telling yourself it’s OK – you “tried.” You are giving yourself permission to not follow through before you even take action.
It’s like my kids when they tell me they’re going to “try” the food at dinner while making a disgusting face at it. By saying they’ll try it, they’ve already made up their mind that they aren’t going to like it. They test the tiniest bit, claim they don’t like it and justify their decision with “but I tried it.”
In my opinion, try = I won’t.
Now, let’s move on to should.
I should eat healthily.
I should go to bed earlier.
Says who? Who is telling you you should do these things? And are they what YOU want?
When we feel like we’re going after something that someone else wants for us, it’s a lot less motivating. One of the things we looked forward to as teenagers was becoming adults to make our own decisions, am I right? So, forget what your partner, friend, parent or colleague wants for you and think about what YOU want. Then work towards that.
OK, so if you’re not supposed to use “try” or “should,” what can you use?
Will and want to. Plus, why you’re doing it.
Will and want to are more affirmative and increase your chances of follow-through. Add on why you’re setting out to do your action, ensure it’s in the positive and bam, you’re really setting yourself up for success.
I will try to go to yoga once this week becomes I WILL go to yoga once this week, and it will feel great.
I should eat healthier becomes, I WANT TO eat healthier as it gives me more energy to do more of what I enjoy.
I will try and talk to my boss this week becomes I WILL speak to my boss this week as I know a weight will be lifted off my shoulders once I speak with her and come up with a plan to reduce my workload.
But knowing and doing are two separate things so, this week, I challenge you to pick an action that could use some help with following through and practice changing your language.
Let me know what happens. How do you feel afterwards? How will you continue to practice this new vocabulary moving forward? Then, give yourself a pat on the back for doing it!