“I can’t”, “I won’t”, and the choices you make

Myers Barnes can't and won'tA negative mindset holds you back. Whether you think it, speak it, or act it, negativity is a virus that cripples your growth. We shut down others without really understanding the impact. Think about the underlying meanings of “I can’t” and “I won’t”. They are reflections of the choices you make, not what you can and cannot do. 

We prioritize what matters in our lives. We then allocate money, time, energy, and resources to those things that have been deemed to have the highest priority. 

“I can’t afford it.”

I know a sales professional who spends a small fortune on her dog’s grooming and care, but balks at paying too much for her own hair styling and self-care. 

Countless times, we’ve spoken to buyers about a new home or certain options, only to get the response, “I can’t afford that.”

In truth, affordability is a decision about priorities for spending our money. One person might believe an epicurean feast at a five-star restaurant is well worth a couple of hundred dollars, while scoffing at another individual who spends that same amount on hobby supplies. Each takes pleasure from their purchase and, therefore, it has value to them.

A buyer who tells you that something is out of their price range is not convinced that the expense delivers value for the cost. Certainly, some people truly don’t have the funds, while others just can’t justify paying for what you’re selling.

“Can’t” is not a closed door to a sale. In fact, it’s an opportunity. Dig deeper into the buyer’s priorities. Understand how they qualify “value”. Maybe it’s the fiscal return on investment, the safety and well-being of their family, or the tangible benefits of a particular home or location. 

The next time you say, “I can’t afford it”, ask yourself “Why?” What would make it worth the money in your eyes?

“I can’t take the time.”

Again, it’s about priorities. You “take the time” to do the things that matter most to you. Time is a finite thing. You can’t make more time in the day, unless you sacrifice something else, like sleep or meal breaks, so you prioritize how to allocate the time you have.

There are those who are focused and use their time productively, while others are simply swatting away at tasks, like a batter in a batting cage, facing off against five pitching machines at once. You’re not doing your best, but rather doing enough to get by. You’re not hitting home runs at that frenzied pace. You’re merely reacting, using your skill to fend off the onslaught of too many balls hurled at you.

A friend of mine said that one day, she heard herself telling her young son, “I don’t have time to play with you right now.” She was cleaning the kitchen at the time. She saw the disappointment on his face. She had not given priority to his desire to spend time with her. And in a moment, she realized that there would come a day when he wouldn’t want to play with her. Like Harry Chapin’s classic “Cat’s in the Cradle”, time slips away. She stopped cleaning and realized she wasn’t saying “can’t” but was telling her little boy. “I won’t.”. 

They did some chores together and took off for an afternoon at the movies and the playground, where she slid down the slide, flew high on the swings, and felt so much better as a result of changing how she spent her time. When they returned home, he happily played with his toys. She resumed her housework with renewed vigor and the satisfaction that came with realizing her real priorities.

Not every request warrants your time, but you should also look at how you prioritize the use of your life’s hours. Sometimes, you can say “not now” instead of “no”.

“I can’t make that happen.”

This one is about motivation. It’s not that you can’t make it happen, but you choose not to do it. Is it beyond your ability or simply not worthy of your effort?

In “The Devil Wears Prada”, the never-satisfied boss, Miranda Priestly, tasks her eager assistant, Andrea, to get her a copy of the manuscript for the next Harry Potter book, which was not yet published at the time, so her children could read it while they were traveling. Miranda set the young woman up for failure, but Andrea was innovative and driven, and managed to not only secure the manuscript, but make copies for each of Miranda’s kids and have them delivered. She was so motivated to prove herself to her boss that Andrea defied seemingly insurmountable odds and made it happen.

Be real with yourself when you say you can’t do something. In January, would you have believed you could sell a home using virtual channels? You can achieve so many goals in your life if you simply accept the possibility, remain accountable, and strive for more. 

If you want something strongly enough, you can choose to find the funds, you can choose to make the time, and you can choose to make it happen.

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