That One Dirty Word

There is one word that I don’t allow myself to use, and strongly encourage others not to use it, either. And, surprisingly, it’s not a 4-lettter word. It is actually just a 2-letter word. That big dirty word is “if.”


In fact, this small little word can be one of the most destructive. When you think of the obstacles that this word creates, it is one of the biggest words in the English language. Why? Because it can stop you in your tracks when working on a goal. Or, it can give you the incorrect belief that you actually are working on your goal, when actually you have it floating around in la-la land.


Goals, as we know, have a few specifics to be a good goal. One of those specifications is having a deadline. When thinking, writing, or talking about your goals, the word “if” takes away not only the act of achieving it, but it can also put you in a state of never-achieving.

The state of never-achieving

When you have a mindset of “if,” it leaves you with the choice to opt out of responsibilities to take control of your life. Relying on the word “if” is enabling you to accept failure. I experienced this first-hand when starting our home inventory business many years ago. I would think to myself that I will schedule an inventory service if I am comfortable that I am ready for business. I also thought that I would start to promote the business if I’m sure I have all the answers to people’s questions. These “if” statements gave me the excuse to not move forward and get out of my comfort zone. There was always an “if” allowing me to procrastinate.

Remove “if” from your vocabulary

If is a very big word for being only 2 letters. It is huge, actually, because of the impact that word can have on your success.

  • I’ll do this, if I can do that first.
  • I will complete “x” by this date if I have time.
  • I would start working on my new business  idea if I had any idea what I want to do.
  • I’ll make this change to my business if I earn enough money.

What would happen to your goals and desire to be successful if you used “when” instead of “if” and included a concrete statement of when? See how these weak statements become more powerful:

  • I’ll do this, when I complete that first.
  • I will complete “x” by this date when I set aside 2 hours each evening to work on it.
  • I will start working on my new business idea when I finish researching my options.
  • I’ll make this change to my business when I earn “x” dollars.

What happened when you replaced the word “if” with “when”? All of a sudden you have a new outlook. You won’t be living an “if” life. Instead, when you use “when,” you are telling yourself that it will happen. When requires a date on the calendar or the achievement of a particular event to allow you to move forward. When is action, giving yourself the desire to move forward. If gives you permission to remain where you are … dreaming instead of doing.


When enables you to take action. You no longer think “if” you can do something, but you will focus on “when” you will do it. This creates a strong belief that it will happen, rather than “well, just maybe I might.” Take the word “if” out of your vocabulary as a first step toward success.