12 common phrases successful people avoid (that you should avoid, too)

Everyone dreams of being successful, and most of us immediately think about being the CEO of our own company or gaining enough wealth to get everything we want when we describe success.

But what some people may not know is that being successful isn’t limited by these metrics — it’s also about how you frame your mind.

You can be a successful go-getter employee, pursuing your passion and living life to the fullest, or a leader in your own business.

And we might not be aware of it now, but the person that stands in the way of success could be us, due to a defeatist mindset.

We might have wrong beliefs that are keeping us from growing and achieving success, and these sometimes manifest in the things we say to ourselves.

Some of these could be:

1. “I Can’t Do It”

Successful people succeed because they never back down on any challenge life throws at them.

They strive to be resilient and proactive in surpassing these hurdles coming their way.

That’s why you usually won’t catch them saying words like, “I can’t do it” or “I give up.”

Letting your boss or colleagues hear these make you look unreliable, robbing you of possible opportunities that might elevate your career.

And it’s not because you really can’t do it — you just failed to approach a challenge proactively as a problem-solver.

It may be true that the task is overwhelming, and you think you can’t do it, but you really never knew because you never tried.

I used to say these words because I wasn’t confident enough for the job. But I regretted saying no eventually when I realized those opportunities don’t come around often.

So from then on, I started challenging myself and accepting important tasks, believing I can do hard things especially if I really tried.

2. “That’s Impossible”

Things aren’t always impossible, especially in business – you simply haven’t figured out the solution yet.

That’s why people with a winner’s mindset don’t declare anything is impossible and run away from challenges.

Instead, they focus on looking for ways to make plans or goals happen.

They’d look at the situation from every angle and exhaust all resources to get it done. It might take a lot of time and effort, but nothing is really impossible.

Like saying “you can’t do it,” the sentence “that’s impossible” is also defeatist, self-limiting, and pessimistic.

You fail to get creative with what you have and take risks to get the job done. You allow self-doubt to get the best of you and stunt your growth.

3. “I Have No Choice”

Saying “I don’t have a choice” gives the impression that you can’t decide for yourself and take control of your life.

These passive words may relieve you of all responsibilities for your actions, but they won’t let you escape their consequences.

And while our options might be limited sometimes, a choice is still a choice — that one wrong decision can negatively impact your entire life.

Successful people always stand by their decisions. And even if their choices were limited, they either get creative and come up with alternative options or be brave enough to make difficult decisions.

They consistently seek solutions or face consequences instead of avoiding accountability with the excuse of “no choice”.

4. “It’s All Your Fault”

No one wants to work with someone who always blames others, whether it’s really their fault or not.

And people are more repulsed by those who won’t admit their mistakes and become responsible for their actions, resorting to pointing out others’ lapses instead.

Successful people never say these words – they’re usually more focused on solving problems coming their way and learning from the situation instead of wasting time blaming others.

When at fault, they usually aren’t afraid to admit their mistakes and take full responsibility for their actions. They know that these are important lessons to learn and grow as individuals.

5. “I Should Have – “

Successful people don’t wallow in the past and dwell in the world of should- or could-have-been.

They’re always forward-looking, focusing on solving actual problems in front of them.

That’s why they don’t usually say words like “I should have done this” or “I could have been like this now.”

These words give the impression of regret or lack of decisiveness in standing by or being responsible for your choices.

Dwelling on these thoughts won’t get you anywhere because you’re caught up in situations you can no longer change.

I used to have these thoughts more often, but I realized that fixating on those decisions has robbed me of the moment to live and take control of the present.

Whether they’re good or bad decisions, they no longer matter more than learning and pushing your limits today.

6. “That’s How I’ve Always Done It.”

Saying “that’s how I’ve always done it” or “that’s not how we do it” gives the impression that you’re not comfortable learning new things and thinking outside the box.

Sticking to old practices without considering the current circumstances stunts your growth, and the next thing you know, you’re already left behind.

Successful people aren’t scared of change – instead, they’re curious and enthusiastic about the newest advancements in the ever-changing conditions of the industry they’re in — be it business, science, arts, or politics.

You don’t always have to follow trends, but failing to recognize and adapt to changes won’t lead you to success. Whether you like it or not, you’ll face new problems that require new solutions.

7. “He’s Bad at His Job.”

Successful people don’t waste time judging or saying mean words about others, especially behind their backs.

This is because they don’t like wasting their time on petty rumors that breed negativity in their workspace.

They prefer having mature conversations and a healthy working environment with people supporting each other.

People with a winner’s mindset also value teamwork – they’d help out a colleague having problems with their work instead of spreading degrading remarks.

Should they find themselves in the middle of a conflict, they’d base their judgments on well-documented facts with tact, neutrality, and consideration.

Their focus is to solve the problem and move forward, not persecute the person who made a mistake.

8. “That’s Not My Problem.”

As successful people value teamwork, they believe everyone is responsible for each other. They’re always focused on supporting others to grow and succeed.

So when their boss or even colleagues have asked for their assistance on something, a successful person will be a team player and help them finish their task.

Even if their boss tosses an unreasonable workload, they would respond positively, like “which of my current tasks would you like to postpone as I work on this new task?”

This promotes a proactive attitude in your career while prioritizing your workload.

9. “I Don’t Need Help.”

Being able to do amazing things on your own is admirable.

But not working as a team and asking for help when you’re having a hard time may also be rooted in arrogance.

People saying these words usually believe they’re the only ones who can do it right and that others aren’t as competent as them.

You may not know it, but this attitude won’t let you grow and achieve great things.

Successful people are self-reliant, but they’re also great team players and leaders.

They know they can’t do everything on their own because it’s simply impossible, especially if there are many things needed to be done.

They love seeing talent in others and learning from them, bringing out the best in them by fostering a collaborative environment.

10. “I’ll Try.”

Saying these words gives the impression of uncertainty about your capabilities and wanting to relieve yourself of any responsibility in case anything goes wrong.

You either decide to do it or don’t, not get stuck in between.

Successful people don’t usually say these words because they’re usually decisive in their actions.

More than this, they’re always geared at facing challenges head-on, eager to learn new things and discover what else they can do.

They don’t do things half-heartedly. In my experience, most people who said they’ll try doing something ended up not doing the task at all.

11. “I’m So Much Better Than You.”

Saying that you’re better than anyone else reeks of arrogance and insecurity – successful people are secure about their self-worth and let their achievements do the talking.

They don’t need to tell everyone of their greatness, especially at the expense of others.

They also believe that others can do things they can’t do and vice versa.

When meeting others, they look for talent that may be a good contribution to their team.

They also see potential in people and are eager in bringing out the best in them.

Successful people don’t get caught up comparing themselves to others because they love learning from them.

12. “I Don’t Know.”

While everyone can use these words in everyday life, saying these words in conferences in your workspace or in important decision-making situations makes you seem detached and unreliable.

It also sounds defeatist and gives the impression that you don’t care anymore and won’t bother participating in facing the challenges before you.

Successful people usually don’t say things like “I don’t know” because they’re always focused on looking for answers and solutions.

If there are things they didn’t know about, the first thing they do is investigate, research, and assess, not raise the white flag and get complacent by ignorance.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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