How Saying 'I Don't' vs. 'I Can't' Changes The Way You Can Achieve Your Goals

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How Saying 'I Don't' vs. 'I Can't' Changes The Way You Can Achieve Your Goals

Success Magazine

Pursuing your goals requires a lot of mental effort. You have to constantly remind yourself to keep going. If you're finding it difficult to stay on the right path, it may be because you're not giving yourself the proper pep talk.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research compared the behavioral effects of saying 'I don't' versus 'I can't'. Researchers studied how using these words interchangeably can have a negative effect on how you pursue a goal. Discovering which one you use more often can be a key factor in how you motivate yourself to succeed.

Now put yourself in this scenario: You set a goal last week to eliminate fast-food from you diet. One of your friends just bought a hamburger from a fast-food chain and offers you a bite.

Out of the two options below, how would you respond?

1) "I don't eat fast-food."

2) "I can't eat fast-food."

Click on the next page to see what each response means.  

'I can't' is a self-imposed restriction, which undermines your sense of inner power. This type of thinking can have devastating consequences for those trying to achieve a goal. We all know that the more walls we put up, the more suffocated we'll feel, eventually leading us to rebel.

'I don't' is a personal choice. This sense of empowerment will help curb your temptations and help you to persist at and achieve your goal. When you have a clear idea of what you want and what you don't want, the ladder to success will be an easier climb up.  

Share this story and let us know which word you use more often!

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at