Remove “If” and “But” From Your Vocabulary

These two words – IF  and BUT are small but extremely powerful.


Powerful in the most negative way.


The little 2-letter word, “if” enables you to be passive. If you’re a procrastinator, it is probably one of your favorite words because it gives you permission to not move forward. Here are some examples of how “if” can hold you back:

  • I could get a new job IF …
  • I could start my own business IF …
  • I would achieve success IF …

Take any scenario of wanting to improve, be successful, be more successful, or make it to the next level of employment and the enabling word “if” can give you the excuse not to achieve. When you think “if” it is as if someone else has control of what comes next. You are choosing to be passive and not work towards the next step in your life. The word “if” can be the door that someone else has to open for you.


And as if “if” isn’t enough to cause issues, there’s the word “but” that can be even more harmful. Worse than just being passive using “if” as a crutch, “but” can bring negativity into your thoughts that quite likely encourage you to decide to stop working towards success. It can basically result in you giving up. Rather than the “if” door being opened by that “if” possibility, the “but” becomes a deadbolt on the door.


Consider these same statements with this horrible word:

  • I could get a new job BUT …
  • I could start my own business BUT …
  • I would achieve success BUT …

When using “but” you are unfortunately telling yourself that no matter what, you can’t. There isn’t even an “if” possibility. It stops you right here, right now.


So, if you are unable to accomplish any of these scenarios – or any other goal you have – right now, what word should you use instead of “if” or “but” to think about your future success? How about the word “when” instead? When is empowering. There is no doubt that it will happen, just the question of when it will.


Using the “start a new business” example, this shows the difference these words can make.

  • I could start my own business, IF … (it’s possible when receiving assistance)
  • I could start my own business, BUT … (that just about says you can’t)
  • I could start my own business, WHEN … (there is a goal at the end of this sentence)

Starting a business, becoming an entrepreneur, buying a business, or any other dream or goal for success you have can be thwarted by these two very little words. Small as they are, they have  consequences when you allow them into your vocabulary. Success is yours (whatever you define success to be), not “if” or “but.”