6 Steps to Getting Your Big BUT Back in Line

©iStock.com/ImagesbyTrista

©iStock.com/ImagesbyTrista

“I would, BUT…”

“Right, BUT…”

“I know, BUT…”

“I could, BUT…”

“I understand that, BUT…”

“I should, BUT…”

Those big buts above are the precursors to statements like “I’m really busy this month” or “the economy is too uncertain” or “my boss won’t let me.”

The word “but” is the introduction to every rationalization for mediocre performance, inaction, and self-pity I have ever heard.

Most people allow their environment to direct their actions. If you work for a boss who is not interested in your new ideas, you stop creating new ideas. If your coworker avoids teamwork, you retreat to your cubicle. If your spouse fails to uphold his/her end of the bargain, you stop trying.

That little three-letter word—”but”—creates big problems. Big but problems.

Your big but is a symptom. It’s a symptom not of what others do to you, but of a poor attitude. Your poor attitude. Your poor belief system.

The Problem: When your buts are bigger than your accomplishments, you will find your wallet a little thin.

The Solution: Get your butt in gear!

Here are six steps to getting your big BUT back in line:


1. Start moving. The hardest part of any task is starting. Once you get moving, you will find that inertia will keep you motivated.

2. Allow yourself to succeed. If you give up a task or project at the first sign of adversity, eventually you will convince yourself that your next project is not worth starting. Instead, focus all of your energy on completing the task at hand—NO MATTER WHAT.

3. Build your belief system. Big belief will beat big buts anytime. The bigger your own self-belief, the more likely you are to overcome your inner-skeptic.

4. Don’t ask for permission. You don’t ever need permission to do what you know in your heart is best for your company. Try walking into your boss’s office after implementing your new idea with proof of success. “Hey, boss, I just did something a little ‘out-of-the-box’ and our customers loved it. Here’s a purchase order for $10,000.”

5. Exercise your freedom. Freedom to succeed implies freedom to fail. The best baseball players strike out two out of three times. But the runs they score when they do hit far outnumber the runs they score while sitting in the dugout.

6. Know when to quit. Sometimes you will fail. Don’t blame your but. Instead, understand that sometimes you must choose to cease working toward a goal. Quitting is a choice—and sometimes it’s the best choice. Practice saying “I chose not to complete this project so that I can focus my time on a higher-priority task.”

The bottom line is this (yes, that’s a pun): Your biggest but is in your head.

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