We all know how difficult it can be to say “no” to things and take some time for ourselves. We constantly over-commit our schedules and add unnecessary stress to our already busy lives. There is a science backed method to not only help reduce the guilt of turning down an event invitation, but also increasing motivation in reaching your goals. And it’s much simpler than you think!
When something is asked of you, instead of saying you “can’t” do it, change the statement to say that you “don’t” do it.
Here’s an example: A friend calls you on a Friday, asking for you join him and a group of people on a weekend out of town last-minute. Your split of the house rental would be $200 total, on top of food and gas. You already have a lot on your schedule planned for the weekend, you know you’re short on money, but you also know this friend isn’t good at taking “no” for an answer. They will pester you if you say you “can’t” go, and convince you to come along either way!
Saying that you “can’t” because you have too much to do, the friend might counter that by saying you can always do those things next week. Saying you “can’t” because of money may cause the friend to help cover your cost, even though that’s not the ultimate point – you are trying to be responsible and stick to the schedule you already made.
Instead, turn that “can’t” into a “don’t”. Say something like, “I don’t go on trips that aren’t within my vacation budget for the year,” or “I don’t commit to weekend trips until my to-do list is complete.” It changes your response from a weak excuse into a firm affirmation that solidifies your values to yourself, and your friend.
Making this word swap also helps with motivation and when trying to make healthy life changes. When an experiment was conducted with dieters offered an unhealthy snack, researchers found that those that used “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” were significantly more likely to choose the healthier option. How’s that for a simple way to boost willpower?
It works because you’re making the decision to change a flimsy statement into a strong one. Saying “don’t” is making a solid claim that reflects your personal values. You’re taking ownership of yourself and making it known to others. That kind of positive confidence is the key in ultimately reaching your goals!
[Credit: Hamer, Ashley. “Keep Your Commitments in Check With This Simple Word Swap.” Curiosity.]