Eliminating the “I Can’t” Habit

It’s the worst habit I have. A knee jerk reaction to big plans and unlikely adventures. “No, I can’t do that. I have…”

a. too much work
b. not enough money
c. a bad attitude

For years I’ve battled the “I can’t” mentality.

In 2005 I was a freshman at SUNY Cortland and I desperately wanted an Ultimate Frisbee team. Cortland didn’t have one at the time, so a friend suggested starting one. I was aghast, “I can’t. I’m not a good enough player, I’m not social enough, I wouldn’t even know where to begin…”

Of course the next year I transferred to SUNY New Paltz and that is exactly what I set about doing with Gunx. I was partially lucky and partially determined. I found an amazing set of people to start a team with, but I’m convinced there are days when I held practice together with sheer stubbornness and will power. I refused to quit, refused to say I can’t, and refused to let my hard work go to waste.

Of course, stubbornness aside, it never would have worked without the folks below. These are the people who suffered through my initial attempts at being a captain, including clumsy drills and badly mangled explanations. These are also the people that kept it together after I graduated. Since I left New Paltz, the original crowd of freshmen have continued to do our dream proud, growing the team exponentially in both size and talent.

I also couldn’t go to grad school. It was too expensive. There were too many options. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. (The picture above, besides being my last senior tournament with Gunx, was also the day I received my acceptance to Syracuse University.)

I didn’t have job prospects. I didn’t want to be another indebted college student to move home. I didn’t want to stay in New Paltz. In 2009 my future was looming and I didn’t seem to have any options. All I had was the litany of things I couldn’t or didn’t want to do.

Finally, I got fed up. I was tired of reminding myself of everything I couldn’t do. Instead, I decided to start figuring out what I could do. When you’re determined to put together a plan, it’s amazing what you find you can do. Like grad school. All I needed was the right motivation, the right dream and the right scholarships.

Finding my way to  Florida and Zimmerman was an eerily similar story. I wasn’t having any luck at New York City agencies, and lets face it, I didn’t really want to live there anyways. I am many things, but a NYC girl isn’t one of them. I didn’t want to stay in Rochester. The whole point of grad school was so I wouldn’t have to live at home. The only thing stopping me from applying everywhere and anywhere was me. Once I stopped the “I can’t” litany the rest was easy.

Which makes me wonder how many other things I could have done in the past, but convinced myself, without thought, that I couldn’t.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine, ruling out everything not part of the routine, without ever really examining the possible versus the impossible. In the past I’ve had some breakthroughs in rejecting the “I can’t” mentality, but in 2012, my resolution is to challenge myself to do it every day.

I have so many projects and adventures I’ve been putting off because I can’t finish them without more time, more knowledge, more dedication, more money, more experience… you get the point. Instead of reminding myself what I can’t do in 2012, I’m going to focus on what I most definitely can do:

  1. Learn more about my camera. Read something on picture taking at least once a week. Post 15-25 favorite new photos each month to Flickr
  2. Draft out at least one of the many story ideas I have floating in my head. Even if I think what I’m writing is absolutely awful, try to write 2,000-5,000 words a week. That’s only 250-700 words a day, so it should be easy.
  3. Don’t let Branded fall by the wayside. 2 posts a week minimum.
  4. Run at least 6 miles a week.

And most importantly…. have fun!

Happy New Year, everyone!


P.S. Do you have an “I can’t” trigger? How do you challenge it?


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