Language choice

I’ve noticed that I need to start watching my language choices when I’m talking. I’m not talking about swearing or anything like that, but more how the way I choose to say something determines the likelihood I have of following through on it or getting it done. What do I mean? If I say to you:

I’ll hopefully write the review today.

I’m taking away any personal responsibility in that happening. I hope I get to it, but it’s not my fault if I don’t. If instead, I said to you:

I’m going to write the review today.

You’re going to expect me to follow through and write the review. I’m stating definitively that I’m going to do something and not leaving it to chance. Sure, there’s still a chance I won’t get it done, things do happen, but I’m stating a clear intent as to what I want to do.

I find I’m definitely more apt to use the ‘hope’ phrasing when it’s a task I don’t want to do. Those are the same tasks I’m hesitant to write down on my to-do list – because then if I don’t succeed, not only did I not finish what I said I was going to do, but I also don’t get to cross off my entire to-do list for the day.

Obviously, saying “I hope…” is not the only phrasing to watch out for. Others include:

“I think…”

“Maybe I’ll…”

“I might…”

Really, any phrasing that leaves a pretty high level of possibility to the outcome.

Other phrasing to be careful with is “I need to…” It sounds good, because you probably do need to finish that assignment or write that paper, but there’s nothing in that sentence that actually conveys any intention to actually do the task.

If you think over the last week, how often have you used any of the above phrasing? And has it effected your ability to finish tasks in a (reasonable) amount of time?

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2 thoughts on “Language choice

  1. Action oriented goals are a great way to put your brain into the right mindset to get things done. That’s why on my todo list I have: “(after I finish my blog post) I *will* finish my programming project.”

    Every day I miss my deadline, I underline the word “will” another time. It reminds me to be disappointed in myself, which motivates me to get it over with. 😀

    • Oh, I like the underlining idea. I’m going to have to use that one. I have a new to-do list each day (part of my current method, which I’ll probably blog about in the near future) and have just been transferring tasks over. But the underline would definitely help emphasize “DO THIS”. 🙂

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