41 Responses to “Pinkcast 1.17: Why you should say “I don’t” instead of “I can’t.””

  1. Michael Gowin says:

    *white bread drop*

  2. Sara Gardner says:

    Love love love your Pinkcasts! Would love to share some of them with my college students, however, they would need to be closed captioned in order for me to do that. Have you considered providing closed captioning to make them accessible to a wider audience?

  3. Lois Kupritz says:

    Will this work for chocolate?

    • Laura Tyson says:

      @ Lois K — No, apparently it doesn’t. I’ve already tried, I couldn’t get my lips to form the words, I got as far as, “I don’t eat . . . ” but then the next word choked in my throat. 😉

  4. Andy Leider says:

    Great Pinkcast on the power of choice. “Can’t” implies ability to (“I don’t know how” or “my doctor will not let me”), but “don’t” has a strong element of choice (“I am not the kind of person who does that”). The distinction brings to mind Seth’s “people like us do things like this.” We have more choice than we ever imagine. Who do you want to be? It’s willpower and technique that are often in shorter supply. Thanks for the Pinkcasts.

  5. Trying this with SUGAR and sodas!!! lol!!

  6. Laura Tyson says:

    Great pinkcast, however somehow the phrase, “I don’t eat Belgian Chocolate” is having a very hard time rolling off my tongue. I guess I’ll have to start with something easier (“I don’t look at Facebook during business hours”) and work my way up?

  7. Love it! “Don’t” is about empowerment, while “Can’t” provokes a feeling of powerlessness.
    It’s the difference between “I decided” versus “someone won’t let me.”

  8. Vida Morkunas says:

    “I don’t” has more agency than “I can’t” which appears to be direction from an outside source.

    Excellent advice. I love your posts Daniel Pink – always happy to receive an email from you every month.

  9. Sam Kunz says:

    Great rule… don’t vs can’t. Equally great reminder for me… cut out the pasta!

    Keep the Pinkcasts coming!

  10. Mardi Gras is coming, and Lent begins March 1. How timely, this PinkCast — I’m going to use this to get myself ready for a period of self-indulgence followed by self-management (notice I did not say self-denial?). There is nothing I “can’t” do, yet there are many things I CHOOSE to do or not do. Thanks, Dan, for another powerful distinction!

  11. Laura Rush says:

    Dan – thanks so much! This is something that I can implement immediately for positive impact. You continue to be awesome!

  12. Greg Sund says:

    I have used this line for sugar for years now and it works. I just say “I don’t do sugar.” I don’t has also helped me give up enriched flour and pop,

  13. Sarah says:

    Ha ha ha! I love this one – and great example – thanks Dan!! 🙂

  14. Marc Bledsoe says:

    Saying “don’t” also works in social situations. When someone asks me to try the chicken wings, all I have to say is, “I don’t eat meat”.

  15. Thank you sir! This was informative and amusing, as usual!

  16. Tim Smith says:

    Thanks for the Pinkcast. I was having a crappy day until I watched.
    Keep up the great work and my life is a little better because of it.
    Appreciate it Dan.

  17. Tom Richardson says:

    Seems to me that “can’t” implies some extrinsic influence such as “Doctor’s orders”, whereas “don’t” is more intrinsic – it’s a choice you are making.

  18. GAIL TOWNS says:

    Dan—Love this. I will apply this to some of the ‘can’t’ statements in my life. Thanks!

  19. Hoo says:

    I don’t drink coffee, alcohol, or sugary drinks!

    I love it. Thanks Dan!

  20. Pearl says:

    this is a great tool to pick up! I have unknowingly used ‘I don’t’ certain times and as I reflect it has been effective, less time spent on refusing/ avoiding the temptation!

  21. Dan Woodcraft says:

    We say to children in school I can’t…yet! This ifs when they are being stubborn with learning. There are a lot of resources on the power of yet.

  22. Brilliant! I love your touch of humour, Dan, an admirable sense of the ridiculous!

  23. Stephen Ruben says:

    Don’t is better than can’t not because ‘can’t’ is a weaker statement but because it implies that the prohibition has been imposed and therefore that you are subject to the will of others. Don’t implies an active decision unilaterally taken that is empowering

  24. William says:

    Excellent advice! (Try switching to naan flatbread. You’ll never think of white bread again.)

  25. Tonight it begins: “I don’t read Twitter right before going to sleep.” Another great one, Dan — thank you!

  26. Lev Karasin says:

    “Don’t” triggers your mind and tells it that you are in control of your decisions and impulses. Can’t doesn’t.

  27. Bill Denyer says:

    I don’t fail to learn from your wise musings…

  28. Walter Akana says:

    Resolve is powerful. I don’t say can’t!

  29. Dan Guy says:

    Effective, decisive and witty! Thanks for sharing your insight.

  30. Govinda Rajan P says:

    Thanks a lot. This is very helpful!

  31. CardMagik says:

    I was soooo sure you were going to take a bite off that piece of bread! Good job!

  32. Amy says:

    I don’t eat regular pasta, but I do eat brown rice pasta. Really, it’s great! Give it a try! Nothing compares to white bread though. Sorry.

  33. Traci Wallrauch says:

    This is very simple, but very powerful. I actually “don’t” eat bread, sugar and starchy carbs now, and was doing this method successfully without realizing why it worked! Thanks for sharing. P.S. Where’s the other half of that bread, Daniel? Remember, you DON’T eat that!

  34. Ant says:

    Or one step further. I don’t need it 🙂

  35. Another great video, and a reminder. I used this to lose 150 pounds in weight. A very powerful technique. But … every 5 days I would eat something I used to really love, and I still loved it and savoured it. Maybe you could have a slice of bread one day a week?

  36. Reema says:

    Great rule… don’t vs can’t.

    I don’t eat regular pasta, but I do eat brown rice pasta. Really, it’s great! Give it a try! Nothing compares to white bread though.

  37. You always crack me up. Your delivery and contact engage me even when I know what’s coming.
    Love it!

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