June 21

The Four Words That Kill Your Dreams

There is a little phrase that I hear every day and I’ll bet you do too.

Maybe you hear if from coworkers, clients or your kids.

Maybe you even hear it from yourself.

Does it drive you as nuts as it drives me?

That little phrase is “I’d like to but I can’t because…” and it usually ends in an excuse that we use to justify our unwillingness to either take a risk or change or both.

Here are some examples I’ve heard recently:

  • “I’d like to travel more but I can’t because I have to work”
  • “I’d like to earn more money but I can’t because I don’t know how”
  • “I’d like to take a class in woodworking but I can’t because I need to take my kids to soccer”
  • “I’d like to save more but I can’t because I don’t make enough money”

The list goes on and on.

If there is something you’d like to do but you have invented a reason why you can’t, may I suggest you use this little trick with yourself:

The next time you hear yourself say, “I can’t because…” immediately turn that phrase around and begin thinking, “I could …if…” and start thinking of ways you could actually make your wish come true.

For example, “I’d like to travel more but I can’t because I have to work,” becomes, “I could travel more if I had a different job or if I saved up enough vacation to leave or if I owned my own business or I set up my business so it can run without me or…”

You get the picture.

This way of thinking will give you a fresh view of what it would take to make your dream happen. If you find yourself unwilling to any of the things that could possibly get you started on living the life you want, then it is likely that what you think you want isn’t interesting enough to move you to change.

If that is the case, learn to be happy with what you have. You are making a conscious choice to be where you are.

If, however, you find something on the list of possible ways to live your dreams, do one right away.

Using our example above, you may immediately start putting together a resume and making a list of people you know who could hire you for a job that includes more travel. Or you could immediately call a franchise coach and start investigating what kind of business you might be able to buy.

The key is to do something as soon as you hear the dreaded, “I’d like to but…” come into your head.

This little mental trick can help you make the changes you most want in your life.

Give it a shot and see if it will work for you.


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  1. Hi Laura, I think although a lot of us do some degree of looking for ways to improve a situation anyway, employing your purposeful, disciplined approach is a great way to maximize improving our lives and minimize leaving a rock “unturned”… very much appreciated and have begun applying your technique already!

  2. Hi Laura,

    I love that beyond saying this phrase is a preface to an excuse, you recommend the positive spin of rephrasing it so our conscious and subconscious minds begin to work toward a creative solution!

  3. Great advice. What we say to ourselves can be worth Gold and growth or like a grain of salt in our bathing suit, always being the same ole pain!.

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