Drop the negative. 8 ways to move from can’t to can.


People consider the CN Tower climb and say: “I could never do that.” So they don’t try. It’s such an imposing sight they don’t realise that the average climb takes 30-40 minutes. I can tell you that I am no athlete and I’ve done it twice in 24 minutes or so. In fact, the time you spend in line waiting to climb the stairs to the CN tower – or waiting for the elevator down- is likely longer than the time it takes for the actual climb.

So why do challenges loom larger in our minds than they are in reality? This applies to fitness goals but also to projects that we’re dreading or difficult conversations we keep postponing.

How do we overcome that?

Here are 8 ways to move from can’t to can.

  1. Drop the negative. I could never do that.” “I can‘t run that far.” Little changes make a big difference. You can try.
  2. Just start. Invariably, the obstacle in our mind is larger than it is in reality.  As my husband’s favourite Christmas movie song says “Put one foot in front of the other…” Prepare if it helps you feel confident but. just.start.
  3. Look at your barriers.
    • Don’t have time? Hire a sitter, a housekeeper, delegate tasks or reprioritize. Are you watching TV? Then you have time.
    • Don’t have the experience? Volunteer to learn how. Take a free course on line… Google it! Talk to your employer about professional development if it’s a career goal.
    • Don’t have the money? Can you reallocate your budget? Raise money? Barter?Volunteer? Look for a scholarship or free services in your community.
  4.  Establish a system. An article I read in the Huffington Post this week really resonated with me.In  Forget about setting goals. Focus on this instead, James Clear offers great advice about setting up systems to get you to your goal. He suggests that rather than setting, for example a weight loss goal, you establish a system of going to the gym three times a week. You have control over that. In a similar vein you can’t get an A if you don’t study so studying is the system and the grade is the result. Remember that your system is not set in stone. Fine tune it as you go.
  5. Maximize your time. Can you listen to a podcast while you drive or in the shower? Work out with friends so you’re not giving up social time? Get paid while you are learning something? We all have 24 hours in the day. Just like it’s a good idea to eat high value calories – how can you make your time count – for what matters to you?
  6. Tell others. In his book Influence: The Power of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini explains why people don’t like to back away from commitments – especially those they make publicly. Psychologically, we want to be consistent. He also highlights this next point.
  7. Ask for help. No one knows everything – period. Asking for help gets you closer to your objective and is flattering for the person you approach. When someone helps you, even in a small way, they become invested in your success.
  8. List your other successes. Where have you succeeded before? When have you surprised yourself? What are you proud of? Carry that feeling of “I did that” in your heart and apply it to other places in your life.

Carry that feeling of “I did that” in your heamudderellart and apply it to other places in your life.

No one is perfect at this. But you can’t grow without stretching. Trying something new is great for your brain, your self-esteem and it helps develop new relationships. So the next time you look at the CN Tower and someone suggests taking the stairs, lace up!

What’s your next challenge going to be? Write a book? Run for office? Speak in public? Run a 5K or more? Go back to school? I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s me this summer at Mudderella. Not my natural environment but I did it and loved it. I met a new group of women. I was inspired by the strength and courage of many women around me and it only took a few hours. Now that’s a good investment. And we’re definitely doing that again.

To quote Ricky Martin: “Nothing can hold you back if you really want it.
I see it in your eyes. You want the cup of life. Now that the day is here
Gotta go and get it… Here we go: Allez, allez allez!”



Published by Dominique O'Rourke

Public Affairs professional, City Councillor, MA Leadership graduate, problem solver and lifelong learner.

5 thoughts on “Drop the negative. 8 ways to move from can’t to can.

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