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“If I Could Just…” The Four Words of Self-Defeat

Recently I spoke with a dear friend about her business and she was practically distraught with the direction it was going. I asked her what she wanted out of her business (besides money) and what kind of imprint she wanted to leave on the world. She named three specific things that she wanted from her business but her voice took a defeated tone halfway through each because she made each of her wants sound impossible by inserting the phrase “if I could just...”
  • I would have ten frozen yogurt trucks with healthy toppings if I could just get a permit to have them in school zones.
  • I would educate the general public on the health differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream  if I could just get my Master’s in Public Health because no one will take me seriously otherwise.
  • I would gather investors for my soft serve frozen yogurt pop up shop if I could just have enough time in the day to go to business school and write a proposal.  
Is she making excuses or does she have legitimate concerns?

Maybe a little of both but let’s break down the word “just” for a minute. 

JUST: In this case of “if I could just...” is being used as a conjunction meaning: “Except that;” “but for the fact that” 

And for or a little more clarity what is a conjunction?

CONJUNCTION: A noun meaning:The act of joining or the condition of being joined; or An instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space

By adding the word “just,” my friend was saying that the condition of what comes before the word “just,” is absolutely and infinitely tied to what comes after it. But the world is rarely made up of absolutes. Has she tried to get a permit from the city to have her trucks in school zones? Not yet.
Has she applied to an M.P.H. program yet (or found out that one doesn’t have to be an expert by going to school)? Not yet.
Has she even bothered to Google “successful business proposals,” or looked at small business assistance programs like Not yet.

The impossible is only impossible because of the language we choose to use surrounding our goals and challenges. And language is a manifestation of the garden or weed patch we allow to grow inside our brains. “If I could just,” in my friend’s case and in most cases are excuses that prevent us from dealing with issues of research, execution, and thorough self-examination.

What would you do if you could “just” ____?

-Apologize to your best friend?
-Find a cure for ___ disease?
-Coordinate a fundraiser/benefit for ___ charity?
-Start a movement?
-Have a meaningful relationship?

Please beware that “Just” has a few bastard cousins called synonyms who make tons of excuses and their names are: “Merely,” “Simply,” and “Only.” These deadbeats don’t challenge you as a person and are afraid of commitment and you need to kick them to the curb. 

Start taking out “I will,” “I’ll research it,” “I’ll work on it,” and “I’ll schedule it,” on dates and you’ll be happy with their fidelity, how well they treat you, their level of commitment, and how much they help you grow as a person. 

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