When you were growing up, you probably had a people tell you to speak a certain way. One way that comes to mind is to say: “Pardon me?” instead of “Huh?” or “Eh?” Older people knew that what you said could change the way others responded you. More recently, I’ve realize that the words I use influence many of my own behaviors, too. If I can sum up one profound lesson I’ve learned this past year, it’s that words have power.
How you think and phrase things holds a lot of weight in how you live your life. The words you use in your daily living have a lot of impact on the outcomes in your life.
Changing Words Can Change Your Life
One of the best examples of this was when I met a very successful business woman in Atlanta. She told me that her success started when she was only five years old.
“I remember coming in from outside and I was trying to do something,” she said. “I think it was a cartwheel. I tried and tried, but no luck. When I came in, I had tears running down my face and I looked at my mama, and said ‘I can’t do it.’ My mama took a deep breath and said, ‘We don’t use that word.’
“I remember her tone. She said that to me like I had just cursed. She looked disgusted. Like I said the unimaginable.
“Then my mama gave me this life changing advice: Anytime you want to use the word ‘Can’t,’ ask the question ‘How can I?‘ From that day, I’ve always asked myself that question, ‘How can I?’
“I didn’t put limitations on myself. Whenever I hit a wall, or felt like saying ‘Can’t’ I would remind myself of that talk with my mama and ask, ‘How can I.’ It’s made all the difference to me over the years.”
It was as simple as changing the way she spoke. She would go on to build a multi-million dollar business.
The 2 Words That Can Destroy Your Finances
We all have different ways of speaking, but the words we use can empower us or harm us. There are two words (okay, more like two and half) that have done more harm to my financial life than anything else:
“It’s only,” along with sibling sayings “It’s just” and “It’s not,” are words that have gotten me into a ton of trouble over the years. I use them everyday:
It’s only a $2 coffee
It’s just a $0.99 app
It’s only an extra $5 to upgrade
It’s only a $200 monthly payment for the next few years
You get the idea. These little words have a ton of power — the power to destroy my finances.
What’s REALLY Happening When You Use Those 2 Words
Sure, one $2 coffee is not going to be the end of my budget. That’s not the point. The point is what’s going on inside me. I noticed a strange thing happened when I used those two words. I realized that when I would say “It’s only,” my mind would turn off to the cost of that item for some length of time, if not forever. When you use these two little words, your mind shuts off to their value.
When I see people who have trouble with money, it’s not always the giant purchases that are tripping them up. Often, it’s all the little ones that are adding up that they don’t realize are making a difference. Whenever you say those words, or even think them, you mentally check out. Any thought with those two words immediately disarms you. You think: “Yeah it’s not so bad, it’s just a couple of bucks. It’s not that big of a deal.”
And you are right; it’s not.
“Anytime you want to use the word ‘Can’t’ I want you to ask the question ‘How Can I?’”
The 3 Little Words To Battle The “It’s Only” Justification
If you want to get check back in after using these words, here is what you need to start repeating to yourself: “It all counts.” Because it does.
Whether it’s using a coupon to save 50 cents on a can of soup, or ordering a smaller coffee. It all counts. From the penny all the way up to the thousands of dollars you can save pay by down your mortgage quicker, it all counts. That can feel a little heavy, especially when you are going after a worthy money goal, like debt freedom or financial independence.
Every dime you spend on something adds up, and it all counts. So next time you find yourself saying “It’s only,” remind yourself that “it all counts.” It just might change your financial life forever.
Andrew Daniels is the blogger behind Family Money Plan, where he writes about how he and his family paid off their mortgage in 6 years and are now beginning their journey towards financial freedom.
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