If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I can’t…” I would be able to retire at 28 and buy a private island for each of my family members. To be able to buy a private island for each of my family members (because it’s not a private island if you have to share, duh) means that there have been a whole lot of I can’ts spewed out of my lips throughout the years. Ugh. I don’t even want to guess at how many cool things I’ve missed out on because “I couldn’t…”
Often, when people -specifically non runners- find out that I run, there’s normally some polite ‘oh that’s great’ followed up almost immediately by ‘I would love to run, but I can’t.’ And, if I’m being honest, it drives me up a friggen tree! Unless you have been told by a medical professional that you really ‘can’t’ what basis do you have to make that claim? What you’re really trying to say is “I can…. but I won’t.” Bear with me, this post isn’t an attack on non runners. Instead it’s an attack on naysayers.
After doing CrossFit, I seem to hear “I can’t” even more often. Probably because I won’t shut up talking about things I had done in class. Really though, CrossFit made me realize how much I had used “I can’t” as a crutch to limit myself. This sort of self-discovery led me to examine why “I can’t” actually means “I won’t”. I’m sure there’s a ton more reasons but these were the three that jumped to the top of my mind.
- Self Doubt
Let’s talk about fear first. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear is a common and legitimate emotion and is not to be underestimated. It’s totally ok to be scared of trying something new or outside of your comfort zone. In some situations, fear is actually healthy. I’m a data person so I love charts, graphics and numbers.
Take a look at the first point. Look at the third statistic: 90% of what we fear is considered insignificant. Meaning it’s not worth us expending the energy it takes to be afraid. So why do we give fear the power to keep us from doing something? Why do we let fear dictate that we can’t? What we’re really saying when we’re scared is “I won’t because I’m afraid of…”.
Next up is self doubt. Man, this one goes hand-in-hand with fear. It’s also my personal biggest reason for saying I can’t/won’t. Time after time after time I see people accomplishing amazing feats and whether it’s a physical or intellectual accomplishment, there is one common thread: they put themselves out there. What I don’t see is the countless failed attempts and embarrassment before they accomplished the task. Most likely they weren’t perfect the first time but they believed in themselves enough to keep trying. Did you catch that? They believed in themselves. Accomplishment has no room for self doubt. Only room for improvement.
One more lovely fact about self doubt? People believe in your capabilities much more than you do. Want to be inspired? Ask your friends and family members what they think you’re capable of accomplishing. You might be surprised at how much others believe in you even when you don’t.
Finally, this post on “I can’t” vs. “I won’t” wouldn’t be complete unless I addressed laziness. Oh yes I did just go there. We’re a lazy society. And we’re also a society of instant gratification. If we can’t have it by yesterday, we don’t want it. This goes for all endeavors but since I’m familiar with running, that’s the example I’m going to use.
People view running as an instant/inherent thing. Like we hit the ground running as soon as we’re shot out of the womb. What they don’t see is all of the time and effort that goes into becoming a runner. I was terrible (seriously) when I started running. It was hard, it hurt, and I looked like a crazy person (and still do). I don’t know how many times in utter frustration I thought I can’t do this. Yet the next day, I drug myself back out there and tried again. I would have been very easy to do the lazy thing and let the I can’t/I won’t win but I would have never run a marathon, let alone two. Dedication, persistence, tenacity. We have to get over our laziness in order to achieve something, otherwise you really are saying “I won’t”.
Please don’t mistake this post for saying that we don’t have limitations. Just don’t let those limitations define you. Like a rubber band, it’s good to stretch and push our limitations; if we don’t, we stagnate and break. I don’t want to break. I want to live life fearlessly and stop saying I can’t.
Question: Are you ready to start being accountable and stop using “I can’t” as an excuse? What is one thing that you’ve been telling yourself you can’t do that you actually can?