Thoughts About Words

Jan 23, 2016 · 3 min read
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A shot from my talk at CocoaLove 2015, courtesy Curtis Herbert: @parrots

January 22, 2016
I spent a good deal of time today thinking about word choices. I’ve done a lot of work in this area, and I’ve done several conference talks on the topic as well. In my work as an interface designer, word choices were an imperative component of designing useful, empathetic digital products. In my work as a coach, catching on to the word choices my clients use is crucial in helping them.

I shared my talk, “NoExcuses” recently, wherein I made a point about choosing the word MAKE time, instead of FIND time. If you try to find time, you’re more than likely never going to locate it. And if you’re lucky enough to locate it, it’s more than likely not sustainable. When you MAKE time, you own that time for as long as you continue making it. “Making” time implies intention. “Finding” time is passive.

I believe word choices play an important role in how we set our own intentions and expectations in life. Today’s pondering on the topic was triggered by a comment I received about a talk I did at the CocoaLove Conference last October. My talk title was a play on Yoda’s “Do. Or do not. There is no Try.” I called it, “Do. Or GTFO. There is no Try.”

I received a handful of comments about Yoda’s saying. Comments that in summary take the stance that if you don’t try, there’s no opportunity to learn/fail/succeed. I can appreciate the sentiment there, but when we really get down to word choices I would still land on the point that Yoda makes the better word choice. Yoda says DO. There is no try. It’s about the intention you set with “try” versus “do”. I believe, whether you intend it or not, “try” gives you a subconscious escape from the amount of effort you will exert in your attempt. “Try” implies it’s OK to not succeed. “Try” is passive. Even though DOING may still result in failure, and failure is acceptable, when you say, “I am going to DO this,” your intention is fully committed. Your heart is present. Your mind is present. You, are going to DO the thing.

I understand the point of view that making life changes is not as simple as changing a word here or there. I understand that life situations are sometimes not as simple or luxurious as these seemingly silly pontifications may allude. What I can tell you is that mindset and attitude affect life deeply. The words we use, the thoughts we think, when you dig deeply and push for the positive and intentional words, you create something deep inside that can open a pinhole of light when everything is dark. If you create one tiny pinhole of light, you can create another, and another. After a while, it’s not a black, empty nothing, but a galaxy of opportunity. ❤

This is day 22 of my #tinychallenges daily journal. Start your own#tinychallenges:

Jaimee Newberry is a professional experimenter, speaker and writer who lives, learns and fumbles out loud. She’s also the independent mother of two girls and two cats, and girlfriend of a beautiful, shy man who likes to remain mostly anonymous. More at

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