SSS #41: Choose Your Words, Choose Your Life


Is there a word you’d like to remove from your vocabulary?

Is there a phrase you wish you could stop using as a crutch?

I have a few words and phrases I’m trying to transition out of using.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts.

Your thoughts become your words.

Your words become your actions.

Your actions become your habits.

Your habits become your values.

Your values become your destiny.”

- Gandhi

In Gandhi’s staircase to destiny, the second and third steps are most crucial. Saying a thought out loud is the first step in solidifying your beliefs and therefore your identity.

That’s why it’s so important to take inventory of the words you choose to use. We often fall into the trap of societal norms when we otherwise don’t have to.

Here are 2 phrases I’d like to replace and 3 words I’d like to stop using.

Replace I Have To With I Get To

Most things in life are a privilege, yet we refer to them as annoying tasks we’d rather not do.

  • I have to go to work.
  • I have to change this diaper.
  • I have to attend this family dinner.

Understandably, there is often an unwillingness associated with completing these types of tasks. Many of us lose sight of how grateful and appreciative we should be to be in this position at all.

  • How lucky is the person with a job that puts food on the table?
  • How blessed is the person who brought life into this world?
  • Isn’t it an honor to be invited to dinner by the people who love you?

Saying I have to sounds like complaining. Saying I get to sounds grateful and appreciative for the opportunity.

Saying I have to makes everything feels like an obligation. Saying I get to makes everything feel like a blessing.

Replace I Can’t Afford It With How Can I Afford It?

Dia and I recently toured a day care center for Luna. It’s a brand new facility that goes above and beyond the State of NJ’s guidelines for childcare in every way possible.

Everything about this place seemed top notch.

After the tour, we barely made it to the parking lot before Dia said she wanted Luna to go there and we need to figure out how to make it happen.

But it’s freaking expensive. It’s like a one bedroom apartment on the good side of town kind of expensive.

Adding the expense of that particular day care to our monthly budget means saving / investing less of our income. I’m so not down with that.

What’s a loving husband and doting father to do in this situation?

Some would say, “we can’t afford it” and look for a less expensive option. Not me. Not yet, anyway.

In a situation like this, I need to take a page out of my favorite book: Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Robert Kiyosaki writes… My Poor Dad says, “We can’t afford it.” while my Rich Dad asks, “How can I afford it?”

After looking at our monthly budget, our plan is to reduce our housing expense by an amount equal to (or as close as we can get to) the anticipated cost of said daycare facility.

I’ve been looking into multi-family homes (duplex, triplex, quads) where we can live in one unit and rent out the others in an attempt to eliminate our monthly housing expense.

“How can I afford it?” gets the creative juices flowing and allows for a solutions oriented approach. “I can’t afford it” is final and fatal. I prefer the former.

Remove “Always” & “Never”

When Dia and I moved into our first apartment together a few years ago, we started to have our first “fights”.

We would bicker endlessly about household chores.

She’d say, “I always do the dishes and laundry.”

I’d retaliate with, “But you never take out the garbage or clean the bathroom.”

Neither person’s argument was true. But we each behaved as if the person doing any single household chore more often than the other was the one always doing it.

We ended up solving the issue by 1) dividing the chores and 2) promising each other we would stop using “always” and “never”.

I’ll try to say, “more often than not” instead of always and “hardly ever” instead of never. Those go over much better than their definitive alternatives.

Remove “Just” As A Qualifier

Have you ever told someone about a deep rooted issue you’re dealing with, and their advice is to “just __________.”

  • Want to save money? Just spend less.
  • Want to lose weight? Just eat less.
  • Want that thing you can’t afford? Just use your credit card.
  • Want your problems to go away? Just stop worrying.
  • Want things to go your way? Just try harder.
  • Is your relationship on the rocks? Just leave him / her.

Lots of bad advice starts with the word “just”. That’s why I want to remove the word “just” from my vocabulary. At best, the advice is incomplete. At worst, the advice is insensitive to the vulnerability being shown.

The word "just" devalues what it takes to systematically change. No matter how simple it seems, placing new habits that last is something that takes a while and requires a lot of effort.

Your Words Become Your Actions

Choose better words, yield better outcomes.

What are some words or phrases you would like to completely eliminate or replace?

Please let me know!