By Hira Fernando
There are some things that just don’t get said that should. You don’t have to be the most successful or extraordinary person to say these things, but you’d undoubtedly be better off if you did.
To improve your day and maybe brighten someone else’s, try uttering these seven understated and underused phrases from time to time:
1. “I am done”
Do something and then be done with it. You don’t have to wait to get every single blessed detail perfect. Remember the law of diminishing returns—after a certain point continued effort or productive input will not yield a significantly better result. I have the Cult of Done manifesto plastered all over my walls and mirrors. It helps me to “Get stuff done. Fail fast and often, get more stuff done, fail some more, learn, blow something up, fail, learn some more.”
2. “How can I help?”
Helping others meet their goals is the best way to meet yours. In any situation, ask, “How can I help?” and then put yourself in a giving/serving mindset. Extremely effective when you are seeking work—ask your future employer how you can be of use to them. Consistently add value to the people in your life in tangible ways and you’ll emerge as a true leader—and a true friend. An excellent book on this subject is Adam Grant’s Give and Take, which is built on the premise that one of the best sources of motivation is a sense of service to others.
3. “I love you”
I’m not saying you should throw this one around too much at work, but you catch my drift. Loving others gives us courage. Being loved gives us strength. The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. And you don’t have to wait for the four days of the year that are officially okay for you to say, “I love you” to significant people in your life via ready-made cards. Use the other 360 days! Surprise them.
4. “I want this”
Identifying and articulating what you want is the first step to getting it. Being able to clearly say what you want—at work, at home, at play—is important. It’s scary. It makes us feel vulnerable to really want something because it opens up the possibility of disappointment over not getting that thing. But at the very least, two things will happen: For one thing, you’ll feel proud of yourself for putting it out there. And for another, it’ll add tremendous momentum to the pursuit.
5. “I did this”
It is nice to be able to look at what you have done in life and be proud of it. In the last two years I did this.
Build good things. They build you. They don’t have to be big things, just things that mean something to you. If it’s something the market recognizes—great! But say, for example, you volunteered with homeless teens, cared for a terminally ill parent, recovered from drug addiction—remember to say, “I did this.”
6. “It’ll be okay”
Everything will be okay. However long the night, dawn always breaks. Positive thinking may not solve all our problems, but it sure as hell will make the problem-solving more pleasant.
No matter what you are going through, just keep going. Don’t worry too much about what anyone else is doing, focus on keeping your side of the street clean, and get on with it. Here are some good affirmations for times of difficulty or decision-making.
7. “Thank you”
Last but not least, say, “thank you.” Many people have helped you get to where you are today: Parents, teachers, old bosses and mentors, the guy who drove the train this morning for you to get to work on time. Nobody does anything alone. There are people we collaborate with all the time at home, on the playground, in the conference room. When you say, “thank you” to someone, it means, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”