Not all words are created equal. What we say matters. It’s not just the meaning of the words, but also the energy of the words that impacts our existence.

A few weeks ago, I was in a sales meeting at work. The general theme was ‘setting goals and creating habits.’ (In anxious anticipation of 2020 to be over.)

Here’s what the presenter said, “My goal is to lose 20 pounds. Thus, I will eat 1500 kcal or less, and walk 2 miles every day.”

That sounds like a great goal, right?

It is! It’s specific, measurable, and focused on the steps to achieving the goals, as opposed to the end result. Powerful!

But …

Then he said the weakest words that sucked the power and life right out of his goals.

“That’s what I’ll try to do.”

I’ll try – the weakest phrase in any language.

I hear you – How is this the weakest phrase? Shouldn’t it be I can’t?

Let me explain.

Sure, I can’t is a negative phrase, but it’s not a weak phrase.

I can’t comes with a strong commitment. With I can’t, there’s a decision in it. It doesn’t matter what you will do, you will not achieve what you have decided you can’t achieve. It keeps your energy and focus free for other actions and ideas.

I’ll try, however, is the phrase that has no commitment. It throws you right into a no-man’s-land where your energy and focus are tied up and you can’t use them for something else. Neither will you be completing your goals because

“you’ll always be trying and never arriving; always reaching and never receiving.”


You’ll invest, but not enough to see satisfying returns.

It’s the land of I’ll try that drains your resources and self-confidence. It makes you feel like you’re working hard for your goals, yet never seeing the results of your hard work.

Let’s come back to the presenter from the sales meeting. How could have he saved his goal to lose 20 pounds?


Instead of saying, “That’s what I’ll try to do,” he needed to say, “That’s what I AM doing.”

Thus, when you are negotiating with yourself, setting goals, and managing your inner conflicts, cut the I’ll try out of your vocabulary.

Either decide to do something, or not. But stop trying.

That’s what I AM doing:)

Thank you for the photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters.