Why Boomers Should Never Say “I Can’t”

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As we age, us baby boomers tend to say the words “I can’t” more.

“I can’t change now,” we may say. “It’s too late.” Well, guess what? Self-improvement doesn’t expire. Sure, we’re older now, but that doesn’t mean that we need to change everything overnight. You know the cliches. One step at a time. Baby steps. They still apply. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, start over, change your ways, and make a difference.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” Henry Ford said.

Henry Ford, with his revolutionary visions, definitely had an “I CAN” attitude. When his engineers repeatedly told Ford that a V-8 engine was impossible, he refused to give up. Ford insisted that the engineers keep trying, working through failed attempts, until they finally succeeded. In 1932, Ford delivered the engine that experts said could never be built. The words “I can’t” apparently never entered Ford’s mind.

If you want to live life to its fullest potential and achieve your goals, then you must eliminate the demeaning words, “I can’t,” from your vocabulary as well.

Words can empower us or words can weaken us. I’m not talking about the phrases, “I won’t” or “I don’t want to,” which are acceptable. However, the two dreadful words, “I can’t,” carries a different meaning altogether and can get in the way of your happiness.

“I can’t” means:

  • You probably won’t even try.
  • You lack self-confidence and doubt yourself.
  • You are submitting to defeat before you’ve even gotten started.
  • You are allowing fear to rule your life.
  • You will never know what you’re capable of and will not reach your full potential.
  • You will probably live a life full of regrets.

For example, maybe you want to run a half marathon. Immediately, you come up with a hundred lame excuses why you can’t do it to cover up the fact that you’re simply afraid of failing and making a fool of yourself. Or maybe you want to learn a new skill, language, or musical instrument, but insist you’re too old or not smart enough. So you never even try.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try,” is a famous quote that rings true. Fear of failure is the predominant emotion behind the words, “I can’t.” However, failure is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn and grow from our failures. In fact, you’ll never know success if you’ve never failed. With enough rejection letters to wallpaper my bedroom, I  speak from experience.

Even if you move forward to try something, but allow the words, “I can’t” to dance around in your brain, you’ve already lost the mental battle and are setting yourself up to fail. So, from now on, resolve to remove that phrase from your thoughts and vocabulary. You’re better, stronger, shrewder, and tougher than those belittling words.

Saying “I can’t” may stop you from some new, wonderful life experience or opportunity that brings joy and excitement to your life. With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself. Believing that you can do anything is powerful and can give you motivation to take action. Only use those two words when you confidently proclaim, “I can’t give up!” Then just watch doors of possibilities open up.

Take the advice of Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face….You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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3 Responses

  1. Tamara Cole says:

    Absolutely true! We should all live our lives this way!

  1. July 3, 2014

    […] gradually to your fears which can make them seem less potent. As i wrote in my article, “Clear Your Mind of ‘I Can’t‘” take those belittling two words out of your vocabulary. Use the adrenaline from your […]

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