3 Strategies to Stop Your “Sentences” from Killing Your Progress

Woman reaching for man's hand behind white bars with sky background and words, Don't let you sentences keep you behind bars

I suspect there are a few readers who, like me, get themselves “stuck in a sentence.”

Here’s one of my “sentences”: “Why did you think you could run a successful dental practice? After all you never had a single business class, and the thought of ‘selling’ dentistry makes you want to gag!”

What does your sentence say? Maybe one of these:

“You never were good at math … or accounting … or people skills … or communication … or leadership.”

“We can’t do that because we have always done it this way.”

“I can’t afford it!”

“I did that before and it didn’t work.”

“Why do you think you could run a marathon when you have never before run farther than three miles?”

I could go on, but you probably get the point. Our “sentences” are killing our progress. But they don’t have to. You can extinguish them.

Before I help you turn off your negative sentences, I want you to do this exercise: Listen to yourself for one day and jot down all the sentences you say out loud or in your mind. At the end of the day, read your list and ask yourself: What am I declaring about me?

If you’re like me, this one exercise will help you understand why you feel stuck, lethargic, uninspired, non-committed, lacking in focus or downright depressed. Look at what you are telling yourself day in and day out!

The word “sentence” actually has an appropriate double meaning here. People who are in prison are given a sentence – the period of time they will spend in jail.

What “sentence” have you given yourself and how long do you want to keep yourself behind your self-imposed bars?

Your negative self-talk is holding you down. It can stop today. You can move out of your sentences into a positive conversation that will encourage your confidence and reinforce your power to achieve.

Here are my top three strategies for helping you get out of your sentence … or prison. Consider it your “get-out-of-jail-free” card, as in Monopoly.

Strategy #1: Pay attention to your sentences.

What are you saying to yourself and about yourself? True confession here: I have stuck myself in so many sentences that unless I start cashing in my get-out-of-jail-free cards, I could remain behind bars for life.

So the first step is to start recognizing your negative thoughts and declarations and pay attention to what you think and say about yourself. The list you made earlier is a good start.

Strategy #2: Get an accountability partner.

When you start talking negatively to yourself – for example, “I am stupid. I always make bad hiring decisions. What was I thinking?” – speak your sentences to someone who will act as an accountability partner and stop you in your tracks. This person may be a friend, a colleague, or a professional life coach. Your accountability partner will help you see the truth about yourself and your situation. In the case above, you are not stupid but instead may need some expert advice on the hiring process.

Sometimes we don’t voice negative thoughts about ourselves but we think them – which is also destructive. You may need to schedule a daily call with your accountability partner so he or she can help you counteract this adverse chatter. With the right person helping you, you will start to think twice about those prison sentence thoughts.

Strategy #3: Get educated–Hire expert help or a personal coach.

We can’t know everything there is to know about running a business. It’s OK to need help. Books, courses, seminars, online programs and experts can help you grow, become a better leader or find ways to outsource those things you’re just not good at (it’s OK to give them up).

Sometimes, you need a coach or mentor to help you make the long-term changes you want. If you plan to run a marathon and have never run more than three miles, a coach would most likely be a good idea for your health and success in running 26.2 miles.

Likewise, in career and life, whether you hire a business coach or a personal coach, he or she can help you find ways to handle your daily stresses and come up with positive solutions. A coach can help you get out of your self-imposed “sentences” – and out from behind those bars.

Stop being “stuck” in your sentences. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes, find help and grow both personally and professionally.

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