Saying “I Can’t” Is Just Like Saying “I Don’t Want To”

Photo Credit: haydnseek

Have you ever said “I can’t?” I have, and you probably have too. What is it that you are really saying when you speak those words?

Are you saying you lack the ability to learn, or are you saying you lack the desire to try? I personally feel the phrase “I can’t” is the equivalent of saying “I don’t want to”. If you wanted to do something, wouldn’t you try, and if you didn’t, you couldn’t say I couldn’t, you would have to then say I didn’t? (Tongue twister—I know) ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately, many people say I can’t before they ever even try. It could be because they lack confidence, are afraid, or they just don’t want to take on the new responsibility. That’s right. It’s just an excuse, and excuses are just reasons people give for not wanting to put any effort into something.

Let me give you an example. Recently, my wife and I started the very popular P90X program. For those that don’t know, P90X is an extremely intense workout program designed to help your body reach its maximum potential.

I bought the program one night, after becoming super pumped about what that would mean for me and my body. Most of you know, I may have defeated my debt, but my health and fitness have been a completely different challenge. Quite frankly, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to accomplish.

After I came down from that infomercial and You Tube induced buzz, I began to think about my purchase, and what this decision really meant for me. I began to think I couldn’t do it. I started to feel afraid, not only of failing, but actually finding out how out of shape I really was. Then my mind started trying to convince me that I wasn’t ready for such a program. (for anyone that has ever tried P90X, you know that you are never truly ready, but once you start you are glad you did.)

I started procrastinating and telling myself that I needed to wait. The truth is there were legitimate things going on in my life, but I still could have found a way to make it happen if I hadn’t listened to that voice. Eventually, after telling everyone that I knew about us and P90X, I knew I couldn’t put it off anymore. Something I convinced myself that I couldn’t do, became something that I was doing. Had I listened to that little voice in my head that said I couldn’t, I would have never started. I’d be one of those people walking around ignoring the fact that I never even tried. I’ve done three weeks and each week keeps getting better and better.

My wife and I walked around saying the same thing about our finances. We can’t save any money. We can’t get on a budget. We can’t get out of debt. We can’t stop borrowing money or living paycheck to paycheck. Trust me, we said it all.

Had we listened to that little voice in our head, we would have never even tried and would not be debt free with $9,000 in the bank today!

I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover! I believe in it with everything I am, because it works! His program is seven baby steps which gives you step-by-step instruction to transform your behaviors..

Baby Step One requires you to save $1,000 fast! The entire reason I am writing this article is because of that baby step. It is because of that step that I have heard the words “I can’t” more than any other words in the English language. I CAN’T SAVE $1,000!

Why not?


The answer to that question is usually no, and that is a crying shame! “No, I am not going to try and get my financial life in order” is a pathetic answer. It’s basically giving up before you ever even start. The thing that gets me the most is that these same people didn’t say I can’t when it meant spending more than they made. Oh no, they can do that enthusiastically, without even thinking twice about it, because it meant getting and feeling something that was immediate. They can sacrifice the security and welfare of their entire family, but they can’t save $1,000 dollars! REALLY?

Do you want to know what my wife and I were doing for most of last week, while you walked around saying “I can’t”?

  • We were in the middle of consigning items we no longer needed for a local kids consignment sale.
    • The consignment sale started on Saturday, and ends this coming Saturday. After one full day of being open to the public, we made $133. We expect to make approximately $400 when it is all said and done.
  • We were posting stuff we wanted to get top dollar for on craigslist.
    • Everything we sold on craigslist earned us a grand total of $285, with two more items left to sell.
  • We were preparing everything else for our yard sale.
    • We had our yard sale on Saturday and brought in $353 and some change.

We will likely make about $1,038, so I am trying to figure out why this excuse is such a popular one. It’s popular because it enables the people who use it to continue doing what they’ve been doing all along—NOTHING!

For over a decade I said “I can’t save money, I can’t live on less than I make, I can’t do better financially!” Do you want to know what changed?

I stopped saying “I can’t” and started saying, “What can I do to make it happen?”.

I certainly didn’t hit the stupid lottery! How many people who say “I can’t” play the lottery? That’s another article for another day though.

Can you save $1,000? The question is do you actually want to?

About Brad Chaffee

11 Responses to “Saying “I Can’t” Is Just Like Saying “I Don’t Want To””

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  1. Wow, P90x – you are brave! My wife and I decided not to since we knew our tendencies! We started doing other videos (much less expensive and only a/b 20-30 minutes), which we did well for a while, but inevitable we stopped. Gotta get back on the right healthy track again!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I have hit a bit of a wall because my shoulder that has been slightly injured for a few years is now giving me some problem. We are still doing it but had to slow down a bit for a few days due to our move, and this injury. It was really only one exercise that put it over the to though and that was more because had too much resistance band for what I was doing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am so determined I am going to complete P90X. I won\’t stop trying until it happens no matter how many obstacles jump in front of me. LOL Typically, we are the ones that start something like this and fizzle out before finishing…like the gym…LOL. That\’s why we don\’t pay for gym memberships anymore. We paid cash for two whole years and probably went a total of 3-4 months total at 4 days each week, and those were mostly at the beginning of each year. Haha! (New Years Resolutions) ๐Ÿ˜€

      We are going to continue our P90X workouts tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. dusty says:

    I love this article. It really hit the spot today. Thank you.

  3. Abigail says:

    Well, as someone who moved only a year ago, I have to say that I don’t think there are $1,000 of things we’re not using that we could sell off. Actually, I don’t think there’s more than $300, but who knows? You are right about consignment. I may look into that since I have a lot of stuff in my closet that doesn’t get worn.

    All that said, could we save $1,000 fast? Yes. We could take $1,000 out of my paycheck and throw it in the bank instead of at debt. But I get paid regularly enough that I don’t want to earn 1% interest on that money while my credit card company is charging me significantly more.

    But I do get tired of hearing people say “I can’t.” When my mother-in-law’s health plummeted, my father-in-law talked about how much more convenience food they were eating. Because he didn’t know how to cook.

    I tell you, I was *this close* to saying, “Well, thank goodness women are just BORN knowing how. And not knowing is a chronic, unsolvable condition, after all.”

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I admit, our sale wasn\’t typical since we were selling everything but our beds, dressers, and a few other things. We did have a few items that boosted our sales rather quickly too. My wife had some Bunz Re-usable diapers she bought at a yard sale for $5, and we sold them for $90. We had a bunch of stuff bought to originally sell on eBay like that, but we just never got around to re-listing them. LOL That stuff can add up quickly. The boys clothes were sitting around in boxes waiting for this particular consignment sale, and Isaac had TONS OF TOYS! I\’m not sure we got rid of any of his toys since he was born until now. Best part is, we let him go through all of them and choose what he wanted to keep. He narrowed it down to a good size toy box, and got rid of everything else. We were so proud. ๐Ÿ™‚

      My success from this one sale really was only coincidentally around $1,000. My point was to say that I am sick of people saying I can\’t right out of the gate, instead of trying. I will say this too. Most people, and I do mean most, have stuff they could sell if they really cared about saving an emergency fund…ya know? ๐Ÿ™‚

      P.S. I really liked your last comment about women being born knowing how to cook. I have evidence that this isn\’t true, and no it\’s not my wife. LOL She can cook but honestly, if I do say so myself, I am the cook of the house. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wasn\’t born with the gift either. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As always, thanks for your awesome comment Abigail! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Penny says:

    Currently, my 3 year olds favorite phrase is “I can’t know how to.” Everyone around gets a kick out of it, but it frustrates me to no end. I know he can do it if he tries. Reading this just reminds me that its not just 3 year olds!

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