The Deciding Factor for Taking Action

In this series, we are taking a closer look at words that are often used synonymously.  Each week we have dissected two words to better understand what each means (at its core).  For example, last week, I shared how ‘trying’ something new is much different than ‘attempting’ a new task.  Words are powerful tools to have and to use.  The messaging that we want to convey is dependent on our word choice and the context of those words.

Our lives are filled with a series of actions.  One action results in something else, and then another, and so the process begins.  We take action, we complete tasks, we go to work, we learn at school.  While there are thousands of factors and circumstances that limit our control over in these examples, the one aspect that we do have control over is our words.

At their core, every action, inaction, or intended action is the result of a decisions that we make with ourselves.  Whether our decision is the catalyst puts us into motion is usually determined by our selection of one of two phrases:

  1. I can do this
  2. I will do this

Can and will – two short words with similar intentions, but significant outcomes.

3 Differences Between ‘I can’ and ‘I will’

When I think about the importance and value of the phrases ‘I can’ and ‘I will’, I often think about the entrepreneurs of this world who have created products and businesses that are globally recognized.  At some point in time, each of these people had an idea… and a decision.  The idea was great on paper, but I tend to think that whether the idea would come to life would be the result of that person telling himself or herself, “I can do this”, or, “I will do this”.

You can do anything.  I don’t care what it is – write it down.

You can start your own business.  You can find passion and purpose in your work.  You can build a family.  You can be an architect.  You can learn to play an instrument.  You can overcome illness.

Set your mind to it, and you can do it.  But, the question remains, “Will you?”  Being able to transition your mind from ‘I can’ to ‘I will’ is a crucial step in achieving what you know is possible.

He that can have patience, can have what he will. -Benjamin Franklin

The words ‘can’ and ‘will’ get used haphazardly.  To the unassuming, they might mean the same, but to the person who is listening, they are light years different.

  1. ‘I can’ is non-committal and ‘I will’ is committal – Either you are going to do it or you aren’t. With a commitment, you are locked in.  People may or may not question what you say you can do, but they will certainly hold you accountable for what you say you will do.
  2. ‘I can’ is an idea left on paper and ‘I will’ is an idea put in motion – When you use the word ‘will’ you have made the decision to complete whatever action you were previously contemplating. The ball is put in motion, and soon after, you build momentum and traction.  Sometimes the momentum is more or less than desired and the traction might slip from time to time.  The point is that you are still in motion.
  3. ‘I can’ is an easy way out and ‘I will’ requires effort – Anyone can do anything, but when you tell yourself you will do something, then you understand that it’s going to require an effort of some sort. Instead of seeing failure in saying ‘I can’, you see success in saying, ‘I will’.  Be prepared to overcome obstacles and have a need to persevere.  If you are to achieve what you say you will, then remember that the road isn’t always paved.

We have all been blessed with different skills, talents, and abilities.  Whether we choose to use them is a decision that we must make and that we must to live with.  Whatever our unique gifts are, they have the ability to impact another person and people across the world.

Do this:

Write down three unique gifts that you have.  What do they mean to you?  What could they mean to others?

One last thing…

Can you use those gifts, or will you use those gifts?

One Comment on “The Difference between ‘I can’ and ‘I will’

  1. Pingback: The Difference Between: Summary and Review – Embracing Adversity

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