1. When. This is a filthy word when it comes to improving your life. It sounds like this . . . “When I lose 10 pounds I’ll start dating again. When I’m a little older I’ll go for that promotion. When I complete my degree I’ll start that side-business.” Most of the time, our “whens” just don’t happen, or if they do, they take so long that we’ve forgotten what it was we wanted in the first place. “When” is rarely necessary, but just to be sure, ask yourself this: “Would it be illegal, unethical or immoral to start now?” If the answer is no, don’t wait for when.
2. Someday. There’s nothing wrong with having a “someday” list of things you want to do and places you want to go, but when you find that your “today” list is empty, you’d best start moving some of your future goals into the present. Someday is such a deceptive word. It makes you feel good by proclaiming you’ll someday achieve something, but months, years, and even decades can pass and you may find that your someday is still a long way away.
3. Willpower. According to behavior change expert Dr. BJ Fogg of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, “Imagine willpower doesn’t exist. That’s step number one to a better future.” The problem with willpower is that most people either think they have it or they don’t. They’ll say, “Well, of course I ordered the double-fudge sundae. What did you expect from someone who doesn’t have any willpower?” Your genes determine the color of your eyes, NOT whether you order dessert.
4. Want/Wish/Hope. Don’t be a wimp! Stop wanting, wishing, and hoping to do something or for something to happen. If you want more control over your fate, you must take more responsibility for your actions and their outcomes. Don’t sit around expecting change to arrive in your mailbox. It takes a decision and it takes action, not wishful thinking.
5. Not good enough. How can a phrase with “good” in it be so bad? These three simple words will keep you from hitting the publish button, making that important phone call, or trying out for the audition. The solution? Flip it around. Instead of “This isn’t good enough…”, change it to “It’s not perfect but it’s good enough.” Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Just put it out there and see what happens. For more insight into this, listen to my interview on RicherLife.com with Peter Sims as we discuss his book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries.
6. I don’t have the time. The same guy who doesn’t have time to go to the gym with you after work will miraculously be able to free up an entire evening if you present him with free Lakers basketball tickets. It may feel like you don’t have time, but with some focus and pruning of non-essential commitments (e.g., TV), you can free up 20 minutes to two hours every night to work on those actions that will help you create a better life.
7. It’s not the right time. If not now, when? No, really: If you are waiting for the stars to align, it’s not going to happen. Instead of waiting for the right time, shift your thinking and look for the least worst time to get started.