Eliminate These 5 Words to Create the Life of Your Dreams

“Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.” ~Unknown

For years I felt nothing.

Nothing, that is, except bored at work, trapped in my marriage, uninspired in my educational pursuits, misunderstood by friends and family, and stuck in my hometown. I’d lay awake at night wondering what was wrong with me.

How did I manage to manifest the exact scenario I’d been trying so desperately to avoid?

As I reflected upon all the major decisions I’d made up until that point, it didn’t take long to realize what had happened: I’d spent so much time focusing on what I didn’t want that I’d neglected to figure out what I actually did want.

I’d been pushed by my problems rather than led by my dreams.

This realization was both unacceptable and intolerable, and sent me on a quest to uncover who I was and what I actually wanted in life. Once I had a clear vision, I began taking action.

That was more than three years ago. My life today is much, much different.

For the last six months I’ve been driving around the United States, living out of my car, and couch surfing with friends and strangers. This adventure was just the icing on the cake of a three-year stint living out of a suitcase and traveling around the world.

Long gone are the restless nights, self-defeating thoughts, and dull emotions. The words “play” and “work” have become synonymous; my interpersonal relationships are now fruitful and plentiful; I’m inspired and motivated to learn as much as possible; and I happily refer to the world as my newfound hometown.

Believe it or not, the process of how I re-created my life started with a few simple changes. One of the biggest changes I made right from the beginning was with the way I speak.

Words are powerful and they carry energy. While they can be used to manifest massive growth and positive change, when used unconsciously, they can just as easily aid in creating a life we never wanted.

So, rather than having a “breakdown,” I’d talk about having a “breakthrough.” Rather than discuss the pieces of my life that were falling apart, I’d talk about the pieces that were falling into place. There was no longer space for things I didn’t want in life; instead, I placed all my energy and focus on the things I did want.

To start creating the life of your dreams, eliminate these five words from your vocabulary:

1. Should

As I started to explore all the reasons I wasn’t taking action in my life, I quickly came up with a laundry list of “should” statements.

“I should be happy in my marriage.”

“I should stay in this high paying job.”

“I should feel understood by my friends.”

The word “should” gives you an easy way to avoid going inward; it’s often used in statements that are based in fear.

For example, if there was no “should” regarding my marriage, that meant I suddenly had no excuse for why I wasn’t taking action; it also meant that I had the freedom to make changes, which was both liberating and terrifying.

Ask yourself why you aren’t taking action in your life, and for every “should” you come up with, explore what would happen if you actually did make the change. Once you maneuver through any guilt and shame, you’ll find a little seed of fear.

Nurture that seed because when you overcome the fear that planted it there, you’ll start moving forward in the direction of your dreams.

2. But

Many years ago, I was told that every time you hear someone say the word “but,” you can erase everything they said leading up to that point, because none of it is true.

“My family’s great, but…”

“I would quit my job, but…”

“I’m relatively happy, but…”

No, your family’s not great. That doesn’t mean you don’t love them. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It simply means that you’re unhappy with them, and that’s okay.

Just be honest with how you really feel; there’s no need to sugarcoat things. If you don’t have any intention of quitting your job, stop saying why you “would if you could, but you can’t,” because the minute you really want something, “I would” becomes “I will,” without the “but.”

Being honest is a critical step toward manifesting the life of your dreams.

3. Maybe

The clearer I became about what I wanted in life, the easier it was to make decisions in alignment with my dreams. I suddenly went from saying, “Maybe I’ll go on a road trip,” to “I’m going on a road trip,” and “Maybe I’ll leave my job,” to “I’m leaving my job.”

The word maybe indicates a lack of clarity and fear of commitment.

“Maybe I’ll start my own business.”

“Maybe I’ll start looking for a new friends.”

“Maybe I’ll start sending my resume to headhunters.”

No, you won’t, and if you do, the energy behind your decisions still isn’t firm enough to manifest your dreams. Figure out what you want and start making clear and succinct statements about it. Declare your intentions to the world without an ounce of wavering in your voice. 

4. Don’t

What I really mean here is, “I don’t know.”

When people used to ask what I wanted in life, I used to respond with “I don’t know,” and at the time, I thought that was the truth. Then one day, a friend challenged me and said, “Yes you do. Try again.”

The truth is, he was right; I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to volunteer in Brazil. I wanted to take a road trip around the United States. I wanted to leave my job.

We all have an idea of what we want in life. Saying “I don’t know” is just an easy way to avoid the hard work of clarifying our vision. It becomes a statement that enables us to stay “stuck” in our lives.

So whenever you catch yourself saying, “I don’t know,” go deeper. Even if you don’t have all the answers, somewhere inside of you there is a little pearl of wisdom just dying to propel you in the direction of your dreams.

5. Can’t

When I began telling people about the changes I wanted to make, I started to hear about all the things people “can’t” do in their lives.

“You can’t quit your job!”

“You can’t leave your PhD program!”

“You can’t spend your life traveling!”

What I quickly realized was that I was telling myself those same stories. There seemed to be a constant stream of “I can’t” running parallel to all the things I wanted in my life.

But then one day, I decided to look the word “can’t” right in the eye and call him out with a simple question: “Oh really? Why not?”

For the first time, I started to challenge all the things people were telling me I “can’t” do—all the things I was telling myself I “can’t” do. What I uncovered was that the only difference between what we can and can’t do is our belief in what’s possible.

So whenever you hear the word “can’t,” take a step back and affirm, “Yes, I can!” Then create a list of all the reasons that you will.

These shifts in the way you speak can serve as a huge catalyst toward manifesting the life you want. Dare to use words that solidify your dreams rather than those that perpetuate your fears.

Then watch the magic unfold.

I made these shifts over three years ago, and my life has been one big adventure ever since. Won’t you come join me?

About Victoria Gigante

Victoria Gigante is the co-founder of The Higher Purpose Project. She has a free e-course, 21 Days to a Daily Practice, on her website, a book, 365 Daily Practice Prompts, and a podcast called Empower Yourself. Follow Victoria on Twitter @VictoriaGigante and communicate with her directly on Facebook.

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  • Rishabh Malik

    Thank you so much for writing this!! This is absolutely right… and a lot inspiring! Im surely coming to join you!! 🙂

  • Just A. Guy

    Nice! Glad to see there is a groundswell of support in eliminating “shoulds”

  • Just A. Guy

    #6: Perfect- I’d love to eliminate this word too, as it is so seldom used constructively

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome Rishabh! I’m happy to hear you found value in this article!

  • Victoria Gigante

    Yes! Perfect is another word that can definitely create a great deal of heartache. Thank you for sharing!

  • Victoria Gigante

    Yes! Should’s are overrated. 🙂

  • Emily Hein

    Should is definitely a word that I can work to eliminate from my life. It is the word that makes me feel guilty about not doing so many things.

  • Malissa


  • Talya Price


  • Le Blanc

    Maybe its just my memory, but I should say I can’t remember reading such a good article, and I don’t mince my words. Just kidding 🙂
    Seriously: great post. Thank you.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Ha! Thanks Le Blanc. 🙂

  • Victoria Gigante

    Yes Emily! I fully support you in the decision to shift away from the guilt associated with the word “should.” Go for it!

  • lv2terp

    WONDERFUL POST!!!! This message is a wonderful reminder of our thoughts truly create our reality. Thank you, this is a wonderful list of words/thinking to be aware of and start altering! 🙂

  • rw

    This is a great set of choices to make IF…
    You don’t have young children…you can’t just decide you are unhappy with them and walk away.
    You have no financial stability. You can only couch surf so much before you become a burden to others.
    You are in good health. If you need medical care on a regular basis for a chronic condition, you risk a great deal walking away from your health insurance and become a public burden. I am Tired of my taxes supporting everyone but myself.

    If none of these things apply to you. Then go for it.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. It’s always appreciated. Just some questions I’d like to throw out to you:

    1. Would it not be more powerful to be a HAPPY parent, rather than a parent that feels {stuck, trapped, limited, etc.}? Children are very sensitive to energy. They are picking up on your unhappiness, for sure. They are also not a reason to do or not do something. They do, however, become a convenient excuse.

    2. Yes: Financial stability is something to be considered. Are there not ways to become financially secure? Again, another excuse.

    3. Chronic conditions: The very situation you are trying to change is most likely a huge contributing factor to that chronic condition. Without going into details, please understand that I’m speaking from experience here. I was on several steroids prior to changing my life. Now – ZERO. I say this all with hesitation because I am unaware of your specific condition. Where there is a will there is a way. And if you address point number 2 (the financial stability piece) chances are you’ll also tackle the medical insurance piece as well – if that turns out to even be necessary. Let’s tackle the ROOT CAUSE of the condition, rather than mask the condition with medication.

    All I’m saying is that there is ALWAYS a way. These may be very real hurdles for you. That does not mean they are dead ends. 🙂

    Sending you peace + calm,

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome! I’m so happy you found value in this article. 🙂

  • Mike Knies

    Awesome, I am starting an adventure tomorrow that will result in a move to the NC mountains, I am so looking forward to the change and a chance to start something fresh, this article came as I was planning this, fantastic!!

  • Great and inspiring post, thanks for sharing! These are definitely words that I’ve been doing my best to eliminate from my vocabulary and as a life coach, I also work with my clients on this.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome Mike! I’m sending you peace and calm as you start your new adventure. How exciting?! Keep the positive energy flowing. You’ve got this. 🙂

  • Victoria Gigante

    That’s wonderful Nadjejda!

  • Sherri-Lynn

    wonderful article!

  • Kirsty

    I love this article. I was talking about something very similar just this week. I used to base everything on ‘I should be’. The crux was that this was based on other peoples expectations of me rather than what I wanted to do. Like you, I found it hard to describe what I wanted but (oops) very easy to describe what I didn’t want. This year I have started doing things for me, and whilst it’s hard work, I’m enjoying it.
    By the way, the conversation I had, was around the word should. A colleague has banned it in her team when talking about others, as in ‘they should have’. In her opinion, and now mine, using ‘should’ implies blame.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Thank you Sherri-Lynn!

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome Kristy! Thank you for sharing. “Should” definitely has a great deal of negativity surrounding it. Yes, when used towards others is does feel like it’s implying blame! When we use it towards ourselves (i.e. I SHOULD do this, I SHOULD do that, etc), it leads to guilt and shame and all that un-fun stuff. It sounds like you’re on an awesome path of do what you actually want to do, rather than what you SHOULD be doing – which is wonderful. Keep going!

  • Flo

    I agree with RW that being responsible for children makes your range of choices more limited because you don’t want to impact them, you don’t want them to be disadvantaged because of your choices. For example ditching your job so that you are unable to house, clothe or feed them would be irresponsible.

    This doesn’t mean that there are NO choices to make – there are still many things that can be changed to make you happier but some choices do have to be ruled out because once you are parent you can no longer be 100% selfish.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Absolutely Flo. Beautifully stated. Yes! The options might be DIFFERENT – however, there are ALWAYS options. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Frost Highland

    I should, but I don’t want to and maybe I can’t. Oh, alright, I’ll try.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Ha! Wonderful. 🙂 Yes. Try. That’s a great place to start.

  • This post is phenom…CONGRATS on your successful journey! I truly enjoy hearing stories like these. I think people need to hear more as well as be taught on how to live a fulfilling life. That’s why I want to create a curriculum around this & other spiritual topics. Do you all think it’s a good idea? Would you purchase a product that would teach you how to find your passion & purpose? I just think many people are walking around numb & not aware of such joy & happiness they can have in life. Thanx for you posting, time, consideration & feedback! =D

    xoxoxox Tiff

  • Eriele Johnson

    This message applies to ALL. This was not to tell others to pick thier lives up and “couch surf” BUT to encourage ALL to change the way we THINK and we WILL change our own lives and the lives of other around us!! I have been a pessimistic person my whole life and am now having to retrain my mind to think positively and about what I can and will do rather than the reasons why I “can’t” or “shouldn’t”. I truly appreciate this article for bringing more insight and honestly a wake up call to the things I bring into my life my by thoughts and words. This touched my heart and I truly needed this. Thank you so mch for sharing this article with the world.

  • Lopes

    In portuguese means Giant.
    Yes, your article can make giant changes in my life.


  • Hayley Carr

    This is a great post – I especially smiled at removing the word ‘Don’t” as in “I don’t know”. Most of the time when I’m saying this, it’s because I don’t want to tell the person in front of me what I really want to do, out of fear it might trigger them, or not sound good enough, or serious enough.

    For example, I don’t know, I actually mean I want to do a road trip around the USA and take lots of photographs. I also want to save up and buy my own house. That’s all I know. I’m laughing at myself right now because it’s hi-lighted to me where I’m not owning the things I want.

    Thanks for sharing =)


  • This is a wonderful article. Very insightful, and full of “questioning the self”. I appreciate that you shared this great insight and wisdom …Very appreciated <3

  • Heather Bienvenue

    It’s Saturday am and I am lying in bed with a knot in my stomach and no desire to get up. Passing time looking at Instagram and Facebook. Then I read your article. It is so full of truths for me. Thank you for helping make my vision clearer.