I’m a big believer in the power of words. I believe the way we speak, write and the words we use impact on our lives and energy in ways we can’t even recognise. So when I had a bit of a realisation in the last few days, I felt it was worth sitting up and paying attention.
I realised that often during times I was breaking a promise to myself, or letting myself off the hook of a new habit or goal I was trying to create, the word “just” was front and centre.
“Just one piece of chocolate…”
“Just one more task before I go to bed…”
“If I just get this done today, I’ll exercise tomorrow…”
“I’ll just get through this busy month, and then I’ll….”
“Just this once….”
“Just one more….”
It was an excuse – a just-ification, if you will.
Now that I’m conscious of it, it’s acting as a signal, an indicator that I’m about to stray off path and move away from something that I’ve identified as important to me.
As I recognised this in myself, I also had a vague recollection of seeing an article about the “j-word” in my Facebook feed. So a quick Google search revealed an article on Business Insider from Ellen Petry Leanse, focused on how often her female co-workers and friends used the word “just”. But in this case it was a different issue to my just-ification. In emails, presentations and phone calls, Leanse identified that females frequently use the word as an apology, to soften a request or downplay an action.
“Just wanted to follow up…”
“I just wanted to check in on…”
“Just wonder if you’ve had a chance…”
In both cases, the use of the word is disempowering – whether it’s because it gives you a “leave pass” to break your commitment to yourself, or it downplays your request or the value you’re adding to a professional situation.
So it’s something I’m adding to my Better Ways arsenal. When I find myself using the word “just”, I’ll double check to make sure it’s not just-ifying a less than ideal action.
And if it is, I’ll get myself back on track.