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The Power of Words

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 4.52.26 PM

I had my first session with a creative business coach yesterday, and wow is the word. I’m already feeling more focused, grounded, and ready to take on a few next steps that I’ve been avoiding for many months.

One of the biggest takeaways from this meeting was word choice. My coach share with me a quote by W. H. Auden: “A sentence uttered makes a world appear where all things happen as it says they do.” This is just as true in writing poetry and fictional worlds as it is in the creation of our own worlds. Now that’s not really new information, I know. But yesterday I was given some very clear examples of just how powerful this is.

So often, I put a lot of extra pressure on myself by the words I choose to use around my work. And I have no clue I am doing it most of the time. While talking with my coach, I began to go off on a tangent about the heaviness of this year-long project. After a moment, he stopped me and pointed out the language I was using… “I have to get this photo done by the end of the week”, “I can’t give up on this project because it’s all I’ve got“, “It feels like a responsibility now because so many people are watching it unfold”. He asked me how all of that made me feel, to which I replied, “Tired, and unmotivated, and like I don’t want to do any of it”. Naturally.

Then he asked me a great question. Why am I doing this? What do I get out of it, removing all other people from the equation? And then I went on for several minutes describing all the wondrous things about it… “I get so completely lost in my photography in the best of ways. It’s like creating my own universe that only I exist in and I can create it to be anything I want”. By the time I was done, I was bright-eyed and beaming. He asked me to notice how I felt now, and how completely different this feeling was from the original one. Amazing.

What I took away from this, is to be oh-so careful about the language I use around my work and life. To protect it fiercely from the wrong words. A simple change he requested I practice was to start replacing the words “have to” with the words “want to”. So simple, yet SO powerful! Just as soon as I started saying “I want to get this photo done today” or “I want to be doing this project” it was like a complete 180 in my motivation and excitement about it.

I know I’m not alone in this one, we all can stand to pay closer attention to the language we use about our work, our life, and ourselves. This isn’t exactly new information I know, but I figured we can all use a little refresher about the importance of choosing the best words. Something to think about and practice in the coming weeks!

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