How Your Choice Of Language Affects Your Life And Your Business

I started my dance studio back in 2003 when I was 21 years old, but it didn’t feel like an actual business until around 2007. I still vividly remember when my husband sat me down at the dining room table… we were newly married and had a baby on the way, and he told me, “Honey, if it’s not making any money, it’s a hobby. Not a job.” Ouch.

The turning point.

Should I shut my business down and get a regular 9-5, or should I pull up my bootstraps and figure out how to make it work? I wish I could say that I hopped right to it, that I was fierce and courageous and turned my business right around. But what I really did was cry it out for a bit. Haha. Then I got to work.
I took lots of practical action like setting a regular work schedule, automating my monthly tuition collections, getting on social media and creating a decent website. All of those things definitely helped, but in the end, they didn’t do enough to solve the underlying problems.

Business was improving, but…

I was stressed and overwhelmed. I was working too hard and still not making enough money! The anxiety I felt was bleeding out into the rest of my life. My family was walking on eggshells, waiting to see how uptight I’d be when I got home at the end of the day. And all the while I was dreaming of getting a “real” job, the kind where you know how much your paycheck is going to be, and you get to leave your work at the office.

I was getting desperate.

It was time to give up my dream of self-employment or get some help. I opted for help – one, last-ditch effort.
Back then I had no real idea what coaching was, but I was ready to try anything, especially if it would ease my ever increasing stress and anxiety, so I decided to give it a try. One of the first, most profound things my life coach taught me was the power of my words:
Seriously unhappy and lacking any real purpose, there was a lot of “I should really” and “I have to” and “if she would only” running through my head and then coming right out of my mouth, too.
“I should really get Outright (we now use Quickbooks for Small Business) done today.”
“I have to go to work this afternoon.”
“If she would only do her job better, then I could relax a little bit.”
It was all so unconscious that I didn’t realize how the subtle pressure of all of those words was adding up and weighing me down. They imply that I’m not good enough or that life is a burden or that it’s someone else’s fault that I’m unhappy.
What a revelation.

Notice the difference in energy of these statements:

“I have to go pick my kids up from school now.” or
“I get to go pick my kids up from school now.”
“I need to start eating healthier.” or
“I want to start eating healthier.”
“I wish my business was really kicking ass.” or
“I can’t wait until my business is really kicking ass.”
These are seemingly small shifts from one statement to the next, but the energy they put out into the world is so different! “I have to” implies obligation while “I get to” implies opportunity. And it’s our choice which experience we have in any given moment.

Awareness counts.

I say all of this to encourage you to simply become aware of the words you use – both the words that come out of your mouth and the silent thoughts that cross your mind. What is your language like? How does it make you feel? Does it support the experience you want to have in your life and in your business? If not, start making some simple changes like the ones I demonstrated above.
I’ll be honest. I felt a little cheesy at first changing the way I spoke about picking my kids up from school, but I’ll be damned if the switch from “have to” to “get to” isn’t one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done. This is especially helpful for those of us balancing family while growing a business. We have so much going on that it’s really easy to get stuck in “have to” mode.

“Need to” is also huge.

Forget about the not good enough that “need to” implies. Start operating from a “want to” perspective, and then figure out why you want to. Now that is powerful. Then you also have some motivation behind the change you want to make. Cha-ching! You’ll be well on your way to breaking free from business overwhelm.
Changing my perspective by changing my language is what helped me break free from my business overwhelm. It also helped me relate to my kids and my husband differently (they are so happy that I found a coach and learned this lesson!). It was the missing piece that helped me turn my business around and build it to the point of financial success. Hallelujah!
I would love the same for you. Just remember, “I have to” implies obligation while “I get to” implies opportunity.

What languages choices are you making?




Hannah Pasquinzo

Business and Equus Coach at Hannah Pasquinzo
Hannah Pasquinzo is a Business and Equine Coach for self-employed women who are getting lost in the daily grind of their business. They want something more from life than unending to-do lists and overflowing schedules. She helps them reconnect to the business and life they once dreamed of, so they can finally enjoy the freedom of being their own boss.

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  1. Melissa

    There are SO many things that I ‘get to’ do instead of ‘have to’ do. The mindset is amazing when you see the bright side of things! Well said Hannah!!!

    • Hannah

      Thanks, Melissa! Yes, easy shifts in perspective make a big difference! 🙂

  2. Hannah

    Brenda, it really is amazing how a subtle shift in perspective changes things. It’s like putting on a new hat. One second you’re in a “need to” perspective, and the next moment you realize that you actually “want to”. Really empowering.

  3. Claudia Smith

    When I hear the statements in your words – those “have to” and “need to,” I instantly realized how familiar it was – easy for me to fall into the same language. It’s the small but powerful shifts, like just reframing the words, that can make SO much difference. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Melissa Bolton

      I totally agree, Claudia! Once you’re aware of it you tend to notice it SO much more.

    • Hannah

      I still catch myself in the same rut sometimes, but you’re right – those subtle shifts make a huge difference! I almost love catching myself in a “need to” loop these days, because I now know how easy it is to shift. 🙂

  4. Holly

    I’m going to be more aware of my language starting right now! These thoughts are relatable to all of us, all the time.

    • Hannah

      Whoohoo! Yes, you can shift your language any time. That’s what I love about this – no tough new skills to learn. You can just… shift into a different way of seeing your world. 🙂

  5. Brenda Mize

    Great insight and I can see how this could apply to my life as well. I’m not a small business owner but my perspective and words can be changed so they aren’t as limiting.

    Thanks Hannah!

    • Melissa Bolton

      So true, Brenda- you don’t have to own a business to be aware of the power of thought and language. I love Hannah’s reminders in this article.


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