How Can You Change ‘I Can’t’ to Why Not?

I recently met a digital nomad. She literally travels the world, writing in various places. She has many chances to experience various cultures. She is open to many possibilities.

I said to her, “I can’t do that.” She asked, “Why not?”

She’s not the only person who’s challenged my thinking around possibilities or choices.

The reality is I already live as a digital nomad when I travel for work or fun. That’s one or two weeks at a time. I’m not interested—at this point in my life—living a digital nomad existence.

I know several people who take two weeks off at the same time for vacation. I know, all you Europeans are laughing hysterically right now. You normally take at least two weeks, if not three weeks at the same time. Too often, in the US, we don’t even take an entire week for vacation, never mind two or three consecutive weeks. When I ask people about their vacation plans, they too-often say, “I can’t take the time off. I just can’t.”

They might be worried the organization can’t live without them. Worse, they might fear the organization can live without them.

When I hear myself say, “I can’t,” I need to listen to myself more carefully. I realize I should ask myself a different question. Why not ask, “Why not?” (This is a variant of “Until now.”)

When I say, “I can’t,” I limit my possibilities. When I say, “Why not?” I can use the growth mindset and create more possibilities.

Some circumstances don’t lend themselves to “Why not” thinking. Recently, the tree guys cut the cable for the wifi and house phone. I could do all the why-not thinking I wanted. That thinking wasn’t going to put the cable back together—the root of my problem.

On the other hand, I did use my phone as a hotspot, so I had internet access. That didn’t fix my problem, but it did give me an alternative for making progress on my work.

I find the why-not thinking more helpful when thinking about the work I want to do. Here are ways I’ve generated possibilities:

  • What would have to be true for me to do this thing?
  • What small experiment could I create to see how this thing might work?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen and then, how can I address that possibility to create an experiment?

These questions move me from no-possibility to possibility-creation.

What do I need to create more possibilities? What is the smallest step I could take, to see some feedback?

I’m focusing on writing short stories in my fiction. Why? Because I prove to myself I can do this, and I can receive feedback faster. Now, I’m working on creating time in my schedule to write a short story a week. I’m not there yet for all year. I do achieve this for six weeks each year in preparation for a workshop. If I can do it then, why can’t I do it all year? Another why not?

That is the question this week: How can you change from ‘I Can’t’ to ‘Why Not’?

One thought on “How Can You Change ‘I Can’t’ to Why Not?

  1. Pingback: How Can You "Just Get Over It"? - Create An Adaptable Life

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