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The 3-letter word that will kill your motivation

I’ve written a lot lately about the 4-letter word: ‘need.’

It’s a dangerous word.

We often use it when we don’t really need something and, in doing so, we program ourselves to feel needy and desperate.

And while desperation is a powerful motivating force… it also causes frantic emotions and sloppy thinking.

It’s far more effective to say that we *want* something, because, unless we’re literally going to die without it, “want” is simply the right word to use.

But, more importantly, the word “want” activates much more useful emotions: desire and a relaxed, focused motivation to reach our goal.

There’s another dangerous word I’ve been seeing people use a lot lately, though.

In fact, this other word packs so much demotivational power that hypnotists use it to put people to sleep.

It’s the single most used word in any standard hypnotic trance induction.

Just hearing this word, in the right context, can instantly make you let go, relax, and give up on exerting yourself entirely.

And saying this word to yourself, when talking about your goals, is like drilling a hole in your gas tank right before a long road trip.

It’s not quite as dangerous as “need,” but it’s up there.

Whenever you say this 3-letter word to yourself you’re basically telling yourself that you’re going to fail, before you even start.

You’re saying to your subconscious “Hey, this probably isn’t going to work, so let’s not put that much energy into it. And it’s okay to quit when things get difficult.”

And, of course, when you assume you will fail from the start, and don’t push hard to reach your goal, you’re going to fail and prove yourself right.

So what is this energy-draining, motivation-destroying, 3-letter word?


When you “try” to do something, you’ve already failed.

Yeah, I probably could have summed up this entire article with the famous Yoda quote, but…

“Do or do not, there is no try” doesn’t really paint the mental picture of the dire consequences that using this word in your self-talk will have for you.

And that’s where all of the most powerful words, good or bad, receive their power… from the pictures they paint in your mind whenever you use them… and the feelings that arise from those pictures.

The words we use to talk to ourselves, and create our mental imagery, are a form of ongoing self-hypnosis.

And most of us do it wrong until we learn to consciously observe and correct our self-talk.

Just like how saying you “need” something paints a subconscious mental image of imminent death, which leads to frantic emotions…

The same applies when you say “try,” and you’re painting a mental picture of inevitable failure.

On the other hand, when you simply decide to do something, and tell yourself that you’re going to do it, you paint the mental picture of doing that thing.

And then you do it.

And succeed.

Even if you fail a few times before you get there, it’s just part of the process of reaching your ultimate success.

You keep moving forward until you reach your goal.

But, if you’re only going to “try” to do it, you’ll quit the second things get tough, because you’re already operating on the mental picture of failure.

The best way to succeed at anything is to assume that success is inevitable.

So drop “try” from your vocabulary, at least when you’re talking about your bigger goals, and assume that you’re going to win at whatever you choose to do.


  1. Well! Is that what’s keeping me from achieving my goals and dreams, wow! So word’s do matter, what you say to yourself and out loud effect your outcome in life, I’ve been holding myself back with all this negative talk all my life, I didn’t use to be this way when I was young, I believe that situations and people interfered with me, like telling me that you can’t do that!!and I listened to them, I what to get back my positive way of thinking!!! So I can reach my goals and dreams, that I had for along time ago.

  2. Darren Howe

    this is a very good article, thank you for this i learned valuable lesson here.

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