Successful People Never, Ever Say These Two Phrases (According to a Professor Who Studies Them)

Trust us, it can make a huge difference.

Handshakeg stockstudio/ShutterstockMore often than not, the secret to success seems to be just that—a secret. Sure, you can read up on the morning habits of highly successful people. You can even try to incorporate their advice during your commute or before you go to bed. But while all of these goals are certainly worth striving for, it’s easy to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Two simple vocab swaps feel much more manageable, don’t you think?

Linguistic habits alone can make you a more successful person, according to Bernard Roth, professor of engineering at Stanford University and academic director of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, the d.school. His book The Achievement Habit outlines the traits that make successful people stand out from the crowd. (By the way, successful people also have this one brain benefit in common, too.)

Take this example, for starters: “I want to go to the movies but I have work to do,” vs. “I want to go to the movies and I have work to do.”

See the difference? Swapping the word “but” for “and” changes how you would approach the situation. “When you use the word ‘but,’ you create a conflict (and sometimes a reason) for yourself that does not really exist,” Roth writes. On the other hand, now that your phrasing implies working both into your schedule, you just got one step closer to actually making it happen.

Now, try replacing the words “have to” with “want to.” This is another favorite phrase amongst successful people. As Roth explains, “This exercise is very effective in getting people to realize that what they do in their lives—even the things they find unpleasant—are in fact what they have chosen.” Simply saying “I want to go to work today,” instead of “I have to go to work today” can improve your attitude toward the tasks (and the day!) ahead.

That’s it! Banish these two phrases from your vocabulary, and you’ll be on the path to success in no time. And while you’re at it, you’ll want to memorize these winning attributes of the most wildly successful people, too.

[Source: Harper’s Bazaar UK]

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.