How to Change Your Life (hint: choose different words)

I can’t do it.

I’m too old.

I don’t have enough time or money.

If it wasn’t for x, then I could…

One day I want to…

Recognize these phrases? They crop up in conversation every day. The excuses that we make to prevent ourselves from actually getting out there and living our lives. These are the justifications that we tell ourselves and others so that we feel okay about staying inside our comfort zone. Opportunities pass us by because we “cannot possibly go out there and do that.” There is simply too much going on, and we have too many responsibilities and obligations, and maybe we could have done it years ago but now it’s too late… life passes us by.

Want to change your life? Use different words.

The counterpoint perspective to this opinion that the above phrases are mere justifications tends to be: “yes, other people use those excuses, but for me, the excuses are actually true. There really is stuff going on in my life! I really am this busy! I really can’t go out and achieve my dreams!”

The words that we choose to use are very powerful. Adding on that apostrophe and “t” makes a huge difference to our whole mindset and way of thinking. The way that we think is indicative of what we do, and if we think negatively and believe that we are not capable of our aspirations, then we will stagnate and not do anything.

Pick your words with care. It is a very small detail to drop the apostrophe and “t,” and to start saying “I can…” instead. Especially in the opportunistic, individual-focused society that we live in, our potential is far vaster than we give it credit for.

There are over half a million words in the Oxford English Dictionary. So why do we fall back on the old phrase of “I can’t” so often? The words that we choose directly impact our interactions with others as well as our entire mindset. By saying “I can’t” and reacting negatively to our surroundings, we put ourselves in a position of being unable to fulfill our potential. The power of word choice can dictate how we live our lives: those people with a positive outlook, who speak proudly of their achievements and with determination, are far more likely to succeed in their goals than those who downplay their accomplishments with a demeaning attitude.

We are creatures of habit. Repetition of words and phrases, whether we believe in them or not when we first begin to use them, results in us believing in them after a short while. What we say affects what we do, and when what we do is how we live our lives, it’s evident that the rhetoric we engage in is something we ought to pay a little more attention to. Yes: you can change your life by changing your words. You have at least over half a million possibilities to choose from. What do you choose?


  1. […] to add that at Living Rhetorically in the Real World, I have a motivational post about how you can turn your life around with just one small change. Be sure to check it out! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)ConfessionsYou Might Be […]

  2. I needed to read this today, Sagan. Thank you!

    Just yesterday I started thinking about something that made me VERY anxious and I thought to myself, “this is so silly! I have the power to change what I’m thinking right now.” Sometimes you really have to “fake it till you make it,” but it almost always works for me. 🙂

  3. So true – I always catch myself using the same friggin’ phrases that involve “can’t” – bleh. Thanks for the reminder. (Love your new blog!)

  4. […] as a follow up from Monday’s post regarding motivation, I have written a piece which is related over at Living Rhetorically in the Real World. Be sure to ch… Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)All About TeaA Review of Stash Fusion Green & […]

  5. I try to stay vigilant to doing this, but as others have said, I do slip up. Lately. I’ve been adding positive phrases intentionally to my thoughts. Thank you!!

  6. Holly- I agree. Even if you’re faking it at first, with time it will become reality.

    FatFighterTV- Am glad you enjoy!

    Dr. J- The positive INTERNAL thinking really adds to making the difference.

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