As part of the Stress Less Habits Challenge this month, it’s all about getting productive without burning out. So how does language play into this, you might ask? Because words matter. The way you describe your actions, beliefs and choices defines how you feel about them.
Here’s some quick language swaps I want you to consider.
I Have To -> I Get To
I’m guilty of this on the regular. I have to pick the kids up. I have to run this errand. I have to do this project. I have to get the podcast episode done for next week. I have to do the dishes.
Have to makes anything and everything feel like a chore. Just notice for yourself what happens when you change it to “I get to.”
I get to pick up my kids. I get to see their (mostly) smiling faces that it’s me collecting them. I get to have flexibility in my schedule that allows me to do both pick up and drop off if needed. That’s privilege.
I get to record next week’s podcast episode. This platform is such a privilege that I get to share my insights with you. And when you all reach out, comment or rate the podcast, it fills me with joy and purpose. So yes, I get to do this great thing.
I get to do the dishes… okay, this one is more of a stretch, I hear you, but those dishes mean we had a meal on the table and food in our bellies. I get to clean up with the privilege of not worrying where my next meal will come from.
Start noticing your I have to’s and make the switch to “I get to”.
Just. Ditch it.
Just is the worst four letter word in my book. I’m just a teacher. I’m just their mom. I’m just doing my job. I’m just … fill in the blank.
Just is minimizing your contributions and identity. You’re not just anything, you ARE. Your actions aren’t just anything, you did them.
Be confident in yourself. And I know, trust me I know that confidence doesn’t come easily to everyone. But you build confidence by doing. And in this case by ditching. Ditch the Just and start to notice how you feel.
Not <insert bullshit word> enough
I’m not smart enough, thin enough, creative enough, confident enough, rich enough, strong enough… blah, blah, blah. Again, I have done this so many times.
The word “enough” is charged. And in many ways it feels like you’re giving yourself an out. If I’m not smart enough (based on some imaginary standards) then I shouldn’t even try, right?
There are very few situations in life where you have to meet a very specific criteria. If you’re not tall enough to ride the ride at Disneyland, that’s real. But not being smart enough or experienced enough for a job? That’s not exactly real. ‘
I’ve sat on hiring committees and I’ve seen plenty of people who are “smart enough” on paper, and I haven’t hired them. Not because they didn’t get the 4.0, but because the full picture wasn’t there. Enough… it’s about one piece of information. You’re a whole human being. You’re evolving. You won’t even stop growing until you know, that final day. So enough… it’s not a real thing.
If you want something, go for it, regardless of what you think those imaginary standards or the bar is. Unless it’s a ride at Disneyland, almost anything can be learned, adapted or developed over time. Or you may even find it wasn’t necessary in the first place.
Examine your “Shoulds”
I remember someone saying “stop should-ing all over yourself.” And they were right. We use the word should to describe what we think we ought to be doing, saying, experiencing, versus acknowledging what we are doing.
If you genuinely want to be doing something and you find you’re not, then ask yourself why it’s not happening. Don’t ask from a judgemental place, because judgement leads to zero answers, but instead lean into curiosity. Why is it not happening? What’s the barrier? How could you do this differently tomorrow?
Stop saying you should do/be/act a certain way. Either do it because you want to, don’t because it doesn’t actually matter to you, or discover what’s the barrier and proactively remove that barrier.
Write Your Goals In The Present Tense
There’s been scientific studies to show that when you think in the present tense, your brain looks for evidence to support your beliefs.
So let’s take one of my 2020 visions. It was to become a more patient parent. Well, when I phrase it that way, become allows me to push that off indefinitely into the future.
If I switch up my language and say I AM a patient parent, then my brain will look for opportunities to make it true, to show me when I have been patient instead of brushing off my progress, and look for opportunities for improvement.
If I want to make a six figure salary, shift it to I make a six figure salary. All of a sudden my brain has to look for missed opportunities that I can reclaim or examine what does work well for me in business. When it’s a dream, it’s off in the distance. When it’s present tense, I actually have to do the work in the here and now to make it a reality.
Language truly is key. It’s how you think, it’s how you communicate. Words matter, so start using words that empower you to achieve your goals, manage your stress and boost your confidence.
These take time to catch, especially if you are in a habit of beating up on yourself, but I know you can do it. Start small, make the shift, grow from there.