Don’t Suffer, Change Your Words

My client Donna is within nine months of launching her own business and leaving her long-term job. She’d been enthusiastically clipping along with preparations well under way.

And then suddenly she came to a screeching halt.

Cue foreshadowing music.

It’s the business plan. Just thinking about it gives her a knot in her stomach.

The very phrase – business plan – strikes terror in her heart as effectively as Stephen King’s description of the rabid dog Cujo terrorizing the inhabitants of Castle Rock, Maine.

She’s having an emotional reaction. (Could you guess that?!)

The business plan isn’t the real problem.

Donna knows her business. She has a clear vision for what she wants. And she loves to write. So what’s the problem?

The words.

Business plan triggers everything she thinks she’s not good at: marketing, administrative details, and financial record-keeping.

I could have spent weeks trying to convince Donna she’s perfectly competent at the first and can outsource the other two. It wouldn’t have mattered. We’re not talking logic here.

Words have an emotional impact.

I know what it feels like to have certain words push my buttons! (Bet you do too.)

Writers use this to their advantage all the time. Read a Stephen King book, a love poem, or a well-written article on poverty, and notice the emotion it evokes. The exact same thing happens in the day-to-day parts of your life. And more often than not, you have no idea it’s the words creating your reaction.

Your emotional connection to certain words can propel you forward or wedge your feet into a block of concrete.

She needed new words.

There’s no rule that you’re only allowed to use certain words or phrases.

In the early days of my business, “sales” made me want to crawl under my desk. No matter how much attitude adjustment I tried, I hated the idea. I made no real progress until I dumped the word and replaced it with business development. That, I loved!

Donna’s new phrase is Roadmap to Flexibility, Freedom, and Abundance. Same output, different name. And now she’s excited and motivated again.

Your words, your choice.

Next time you find yourself dreading or avoiding an activity, the problem might be your language. If you feel energized thinking about your goal but not about taking the next step to get there, it’s a good clue you need a new word.

Consider your objective. What are other ways you might describe the dreaded activity?

Another of my clients substituted daily design for to-do list. One of my friends replaced clean the house with house-care. Get creative, and if you’re stuck, ask a friend for help.

Words have an emotional impact … choose wisely.

“Language is the dress of thought.” ~ Samuel Johnson


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