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Never use the phrase “I’ll try…”

Why saying these words is like setting ourselves a trap, and how to avoid it

The words we use have a big impact on how we think and what we do. Here’s a simple pointer to give yourself a head-start to healthy living.

The first step to making any positive shift in life is deciding exactly what it is that we want to change. Based on this, we can set ourselves specific actions to work towards this. It sounds so simple, yet making that change in real-life can feel so daunting. And because it feels daunting, we often hinder ourselves at the first hurdle.  

The all-important moment

Here it is, the moment at which you decide you’re going to go running three times a week, or stop eating biscuits at 11am every day, or cut alcohol on weekdays. You’re worried it’ll be difficult and don’t want to set yourself up to fail, so out comes that dreaded phrase:

“I’ll try”

Although we say this to protect ourselves, using those words is almost guaranteed to set you up for failure! What you’re doing by saying “I’ll try” is not saying “I will”. Therefore, this basically sends the message “I won’t” to your sub-conscience.


“The conscious mind is the goal setter, and the unconscious mind is the goal getter.”


Setting ourselves a trap

The above quote tells us that your unconscious mind is constantly working to achieve what it thinks you want. If you say “I’ll try”, you send yourself the message that what you want to do is try, rather than that you want to succeed. It’s like a trap we set ourselves. Similar traps include the phrases “I might” and “I ought to”.

So, the words “I’ll try”, “I might” and “I ought to” are the last thing someone will want to hear if they’re helping you make a healthy lifestyle change!

The solution

Thankfully, the solution to this problem is very easy: Simply use the words “I will” instead of “I’ll try”. This will send the message to your unconscious that you want to succeed in whatever it is that you’ve decided to do (or stop doing). You and your mind will be off on the right foot to work together on making that positive change.

Give it a go

Next time you catch yourself saying “I’ll try to…”, stop yourself. Replace it with “I will”. Commit yourself to positive action. Write down your “I will” statement to make it even stronger. You can register for My LiveWell to record your goal and track your progress and get support with your healthy change.


How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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