13/11/2015 05:32 GMT | Updated 12/11/2016 05:12 GMT

Keep Your But Out: A Simple Guide to Getting Out of Your Own Way


Be warned, I am on one in this blog post. Reason being that it's my mission to get you everything you want in this wonderful life of yours, which sometimes means that I have to get a bit tough - in a metaphorical kick-up-the-bum kinda way. It's all done with kindness.

For this post I want you guys to get really honest about how much you allow yourself to get away with when the time comes to make some kick-ass changes. You know, those changes that you know can really shift you up a gear, but you can't get into the grind? Or those things that you've been desiring and hoping for what feels like an age, but feel so out of reach. Feels crappy, and it's likely that's all because of a small, seemingly innocuous, three letter word which hides like a snake in the grass ready to strike on our ambition.

I'm talking about the 'but' word.

Too often we can allow ourselves to get away with being held back by that trickster word. It's a sure-fire way to halt any moves forward, stopping them dead in their tracks. It's not uncommon, it's not unknown for my clients going through an entire session making incredible leaps into the future they most want to live and then cutting it dead with a '...but that won't happen because...' or '...but I don't think I will be able to do that...' or even worse '...but things like that don't work out for me.'

It's like lifting the energy up on a trajectory of potential only to cut the engines, and I have to call 'bullshit' when I hear it.

The seasaw that no-one wants in their playground

Think about how a sentence can be structured and then destroyed by a 'but'. The first half of the sentence starts of with intention full of promise only to be cut down in the second half of a sentence by the but acting like the middle of a seesaw which doesn't come back up on the other side. I'll show you what I mean:

Energy build....

'I am to make a start by working on a plan so that I can feel that I have everything in place to really make a go of this...' (action and motivation)

Then the crash...

'I am to make a start by working on a plan so that I can feel that I have everything in place to really make a go of this, BUT I really need to get all the other elements in place before I can even start thinking about it.'

Energy burn...phnfff.

Get OK with starting at 60%

It's natural. We're pre-disposed to think that we need to have the 100% in place before we can get started on something. It's that fear of not knowing everything and looking stupid. Unfortunately that's a shackle we've put on ourselves in our adult lives. What would happen if as babies we didn't even attempt to start walking because we hadn't got our catwalk strut down yet? Yep, we'd still be shuffling around on our arses! It's OK to start with the 60% and build your way up towards the 100%. There's way more satisfaction looking back at what you've accomplished that being bored stupid because you didn't push yourself.

Getting trapped in the but bubble wrap

The fear is there the fear appears real. Yes, yes, yes. How often have you repeated a sentence over in your head like the one below?

'Hey! You remember that time you tried this before? Just look at what happened that time. You felt like a complete muppet when it didn't work out. Everyone's going to laugh at you.'

Fear is where 'but' loves to hang out. It's a breading ground for our inner critic to go to town on our self-confidence.

It's likely that your inner critic is being over-protective and wrapping you up in super-insulated comfort zone bubble wrap. It's OK for a while but you're going to feel stifled and claustrophobic in there before too long.

Time to get your but out of here

If you are guilty of allowing your but(s) to get in the way here's a super-simple exercise for you to use when you are in your zone of creating possibilities.

Ready? OK, here it is...

When you are talking, or writing down what you want to do, be or have remove the 'but' and add in an 'and' to any sentence.



"I really want to go to that event on Thursday evening but I'm worried about meeting new people and what they might think of me."


"I really want to go that event on Thursday night and I am going to make the most out of making some new connections."

And that's it! Give it a go for a day, then a week, then a month until you wean yourself off inappropriate but-tage for all time.

Just one last word of warning in the but game.... don't allow yourself to replace a but with a 'however', or an 'although'. You're a clever bunch and I recognise in this fine English language of ours there are many words that you could replace 'but' with that have the same meaning - that's cheating!