I was listening to the Art of Manliness podcast because I train women all day and need to do things to boost my testosterone. And the guest that day was Jeff Haden, author of the book The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win.
There were several good tidbits in there, but I want to share with you one that really impressed me. Haden brought up a study that tested using the phrase “I can’t” vs “I don’t”.
There were three groups of people who all faced a simple temptation and then were given a coping mechanism. The first groups used “I can’t” as their coping mechanism. The second group used “I don’t”, and the third group was given nothing (control group).
The study showed that 60% of the people who used “I can’t” gave in to temptation, while the group that said “I don’t” only gave in 36% of the time.
My favorite part of the study was the next part. All groups were to set a personal health goal, like getting in shape.
The group that said “I don’t miss workouts”, 8 out of 10 people reached their goal.
The control group that had no coping mechanism, 3 out of 10 people made their goal.
The group that said “I can’t”, only 1 out of 10 made their goal.
That is pretty crazy isn’t it? The reason so many people failed is because “I can’t” implies there is a choice. So if there is a choice, you can always choose no.
The “I don’t” group was so successful because that involves your identity. I’m not the type of person who would miss a workout, that is just not who I am.
For an example, Haden used parenting. You can’t just decide to stop parenting when you are a parent. It is what you do!
For anyone who starts a running program. At some point you woke up and took on the identity of a runner. That is who you are, so running is what you do!
Put this into practice starting today. Get rid of I can’t and replace it with I don’t next time you are struggling. It will help you start to become the person you are trying to be this year.