Replace These Two Limiting Words From Your Vocabulary

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(I originally wrote this article a few weeks back for entrepreneur.com, and the awesome editors there allowed me to republish it there. To see the original post, click here.)

It’s time for some honesty. Think back to the past week. When have you used the words “I can’t?” When have you shut your brain off? When have you let an attitude of failure, rather than an attitude of success, rule in your life? Transform these statements:

  • Instead of “I can’t raise money for my business,” try “How can I raise money for my business?”
  • Instead of “I can’t get 1,000,000 users on my app,” try “How can I get 1,000,000 users on my app?”
  • Instead of “I can’t buy a rental property,” try “How can I buy a rental property?”
  • Instead of “I can’t get Christopher Walken to sing karaoke at my birthday party,” try “How can I get Christopher Walken to sing karaoke at my birthday party?! (I’m still working on this one …)”

You get the picture.

Make it your goal this week to eliminate the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary. You don’t need ’em! Embrace the advice your mom gave you as a child and realize it isn’t cliche.

You can do anything you put your mind to.

“Don’t stare at the sun too long.” “Eat your dinner before dessert.” “If you keep making that face, it’ll stick.”

We’ve all heard them — those cliché pieces of advice that parents give their kids. And for the most part, we follow their advice. I eat my dinner first. I don’t stare at the sun. And now it’s my wife who tells me to stop making funny faces in public (sorry, hun!).

But there is one piece of advice perhaps told more often than anything else:

You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

But that’s BS, right?

Related: 5 Words Successful (and Happy) People Never Use

There are limitations. There are conditions. There are rules. There are impossibilities.

Or are there?

What if the simple answer to achieving massive success in your business was staring at you in the face all along. What if you really could do anything you put your mind to?

What if your mom was right?

The truth is, everything is possible, and if you want to achieve success in your business and in your life, you need to believe that.
Let me teach you a simple exercise. I want you to eliminate two simple words from your vocabulary and see how your business grows.

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What are those words?

I can’t.

We all say it all the time: I can’t.

“It won’t work.” “It doesn’t happen like that.” “I can’t afford it.” “I can’t find it.” “I can’t build that.” “We can’t finance that!”

I’m tired of hearing it!

For one week, stop being a negative Nancy and try this:

Instead of saying “I can’t,” train your brain instead to turn this negative statement into a positive question.

Instead of “I can’t,” ask “How can I?”

It’s a subtle change, but a powerful one. If you can eliminate this one simple phrase from your life and replace it with this question, your whole life, both business and personal, can change.

I first encountered this mindset shift when reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. In this book, Kiyosaki tells the story of his two “fathers,” one rich and one poor. His poor dad always said, “I can’t afford it.” His rich dad always asked, “How can I afford it?”
As Kiyosaki explains, changing your words from a statement to a question allows your brain to start working. Suddenly, you begin thinking and planning. You strategize. You learn. You grow.

And before you know it, the thing you said couldn’t be done is done.

Related: 2 Phrases You Must Eliminate From Your Vocabulary Immediately

Replacing two words helped me grow my business.

I recently bragged to a friend how much one of my small entrepreneurial projects had made in one month, but due to bad cell phone reception, he misunderstood me.

I told him $1,000 but he heard “$10,000.” After several minutes of us chatting, I finally realized he misunderstood me, so I corrected him. I think my exact words were, “Hah, $10,000 in one month? I can’t do that!”

“Why not?” he answered.

Like a ton of bricks, I suddenly came face to face with what I was doing. I was limiting myself. I was applying negativity to the situation, when I should have been asking a question. I was forcing my brain to stop working. I was giving in to failure.

That day I changed my mindset and began to ask, “How can I?”

My wife and I, who were on vacation at the time, sat down with a pencil and paper and brainstormed ways to actually achieve that $10,000 number. No matter how wild and crazy the idea was, we wrote it down.

Within 60 days, I had that project bringing in $10,000 per month.

You see, because I thought it was impossible, it was. My mind never even considered it. But as soon as I began asking the question “how?” I went to work on answering it.

What are you saying “I can’t” to?

It’s time for some honesty. Think back to the past week. When have you used the words “I can’t?” When have you shut your brain off? When have you let an attitude of failure, rather than an attitude of success, rule in your life? Transform these statements:

  • Instead of “I can’t raise money for my business,” try “How can I raise money for my business?”
  • Instead of “I can’t get 1,000,000 users on my app,” try “How can I get 1,000,000 users on my app?”
  • Instead of “I can’t buy a rental property,” try “How can I buy a rental property?”
  • Instead of “I can’t get Christopher Walken to sing karaoke at my birthday party,” try “How can I get Christopher Walken to sing karaoke at my birthday party?! (I’m still working on this one …)”

You get the picture.

Make it your goal this week to eliminate the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary. You don’t need ’em! Embrace the advice your mom gave you as a child and realize it isn’t cliche.

You can do anything you put your mind to.

Related: The 6 Words That Are Holding You Back

What have you been telling yourself you “can’t” do lately? Instead, HOW can you do it?

Leave us a comment!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.

21 Comments

  1. Darren Sager

    Most people are raised in the school of limiting thought. You’re absolutely right Brandon that we need to figure out how we can always versus telling ourselves we can’t. Great reminder of how we think can seriously effect our investing outcome. Hey, WHEN you get Christopher Walken to sing Karaoke at your Birthday party I want to be there with MORE COWBELL!!!

  2. Darren Young

    Deceptively powerful. Many people disregard what Brandon just posted as being too simple. Tony Robbins says that strategy (how to) is important but you need the right story (what you tell yourself that limits you or empowers you) and state (of mind). To believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, as long as it’s not delusional, is what separates the successful from those who believe luck is found rather than created.

    Great way to start the day: from “I can’t” to “how will I get past this challenge?”

  3. Mario Mormile

    Brandon- this is such a powerful reminder. It is amazing- 3 months ago I was saying “I can’t buy any property with my credit so messed up.” Last week, the seller agreed to my Offer on a duplex and we close this month! Unbelievable- or is it? My greatest gift but potentially my source of all my problems… Is my mind. Thank you again!

  4. Red brown

    Changing to “I can “works. I learned that as a child and I had myself convinced for years that nothing was impossible!
    decide what you will do and as you worked through it, one way or another it came about.
    So many run into little problems and decide to quit. Refusing to put in enough time money or effort .

    I was the opposite and was told I was to damn dumb or stubborn to know when to quit!
    My Goal was reachable I saw it clearly the naysayers didn’t or couldn’t see a few steps ahead

    But I have a confession. I admit. I will say” I CAN’T ” As I age it’s getting a lot harder at times impossible to stay awake for days and function properly after 72 hrs more or less, I need at least 3 or 4 hours of sleep . : )

  5. Tyler Cruz

    You do realize that you’re now 100% obliged to get Christopher Walken to sing karaoke at one of your birthday parties don’t you?

    Seriously. Prove this article reigns true! Don’t wimp out. I expect to see a YouTube video of this within the next few years.

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