Words matter. As we head into the new year, we at Thrive have been thinking about the limiting phrases that we want to give up in 2020: those less-than-mindful words that can promote unhealthy thinking patterns and sneakily keep us from reaching our full potential.

We asked our Thrive community which phrases they plan to give up in 2020, and we were so inspired by their commitment to quit saying the words that so often hold us back. Which of these phrases will you give up in the new year?

Is there a particular phrase you plan on giving up in the new year? Join the conversation in the comments!

“I’m crazy busy”

“I’d like to see all of us give up the phrase ‘crazy busy’ in 2020. I’m an ER doctor, and I’ll never use this phrase, no matter how busy the ER gets. Science shows us that when you’re in ‘crazy busy mode,’ you actually harm your ability to handle the busy. Plus, you feel miserable. The pace of the world has increased, with demands coming from every direction. With that comes a frenetic pressure to respond to each of them: a pressure to say yes, and do more. By reminding myself on my busiest days that  I’m not ‘crazy busy,’ I know that no matter what comes through those double doors, I can handle it.”

—Darria Long, M.D., ER physician, Atlanta, GA

“Isn’t it weird that…”

“I would like to give up this phrase because differences are what makes the world interesting. I don’t like limiting myself to the popular opinions of other people. No matter how weird something is to other people, the world is so big, and it has so much room for exploration. I want to quit saying ‘weird’ because it prevents me from exploring, and keeps me worrying about what other people think of me. I want 2020 to be a year of exploration without limitation and judgment from other people. I want to be fearless no matter how weird the outputs are.”

—Jean Occeña, creative admin assistant, Quezon City, Philippines

“I am enough.”

“To me, this phrase feels limiting, and it puts a stop to my dreams, to my intentions, and to my purpose. I can be enough in this moment, but I don’t want to settle. I want to move forward. I want to evolve. I want to grow. I want to see my dreams and goals come to life and become a reality. I can be more than enough! Instead, I want to ask myself how I can improve who I am and what I can do. It’s a great motivator and creates momentum for bigger things in life.”

—Sabrina Cadini, holistic life coach, San Diego, CA

“He/she makes me happy!”

“I’m giving up this phrase because true happiness comes from within — not other people fulfilling me.”

—GME, marketing strategist, Miami, FL

“I’m not trying to argue”

“I’ve been finding that beginning my sentences with that phrase really cheapens the richness behind the point I’m preparing to make, which is why I’m giving it up. Sometimes, we influence certain outcomes based on the way we begin our interactions. Standing firm in our statements and following through with the true intent is one way to overcome that hurdle and work toward the results we really want. In 2020, I will be doing just that — and I’ll be doing it fearlessly.”

—Brittany Chatman, motherhood and lifestyle blogger, Tampa, FL

“Thanks, but…”

When people compliment me, I’m typically quick to say, ‘Thanks, but…’ If a friend comments on my appearance, I’m likely to say ‘Thanks, but I still need to lose five pounds.’ If a colleague comments on something I’ve written, my response is often, ‘Thanks but it could have been so much better.’ Now, I will focus on simply saying, ‘Thank you.’”

—Tami Nealy, public relations, Phoenix, AZ

“Are you OK?”

It disturbs me when people ask ‘Are you OK?’ to someone who is obviously not okay. I suspect the underlying psychology behind that ubiquitous question relates to the desire to say something (anything!) in an uncomfortable situation, or deal with one’s own empathic response to someone’s pain. But we are better off asking something more helpful, such as, ‘What happened?’ Then, be willing to listen to them and be present, even if you cannot fix their problem.”

—David Granovetter, physician, San Jose, CA


“I have a disease where I keep saying ‘yes’ to everyone. I even push that ‘going’ button on Facebook when I have no intention on attending an event! I’m taking 2020 by storm with the power word ‘no.’ I’ve created a three-step process, which includes taking a deep breath before answering, looking at my calendar to confirm that I’m free, and evaluating the event. I know it sounds obvious, but I can’t count the numerous networking events I have been to that have left me unfulfilled and without new connections. My 2020 vision includes asking if the event will add value to my life, no longer worrying how others will feel if I say no, and feeling confident about each and every event I schedule this year.”

—Kymberlee Kaye Raya, fitness studio owner, Chicago, IL

“Am I good enough?”

“In 2020, I’m going to think about my internal phrases. Specifically, I’m going to stop asking myself, ‘Am I good enough?’ and instead, start valuing my self-worth more. I am good enough, and so are you.  Lizzo would be so proud of where I’m headed in 2020, a clear-headed, confident woman.”

—Amber Faust, blogger, Hilton Head Island, SC


“Exclamation marks! Everywhere, all the time! It’s too much!”

—Thea Andrews, producer, Los Angeles, CA

“What do you think of this?”

“I’m going into 2020 focused on trusting my instincts instead of needing external validation. Keeping the word ‘Intuition’ in mind, I plan to toss my go-to phrases like, ‘What do you think of this?’ And ‘What would you do if you were me?’ It’s very exciting to think of the confidence it will inspire and how it will ignite deeper alignment with my core values. When it comes to my areas of expertise at work, home, and within myself, I am only seeking my personal approval for the steps I take forward or back!”

—MaryBeth Hyland, workplace culture consultant, Baltimore, MD

“I don’t have time”

“The phrase ‘I don’t have time’ has never served me well, and I will no longer use this excuse. There is always time if your heart and soul speaks to you — and if it doesn’t, it’s just a ‘no.’”

—Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, ON, Canada

“I’m sorry”

“Many of us apologize too often, for things that are not our fault or are out of our control. I vowed to give up apologizing as much as possible. There may be times when it’s absolutely what I want to say, but it’s mostly a (bad) habit. I’ve replaced, ‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ with ‘Thank you for your patience.’ I’ve replaced, ‘I’m sorry. I disagree,’ with ‘I disagree.’ To drive it home for myself and a few of my friends, I came up with a system. Each time any of us said, ‘I’m sorry,’ we had to then say something great about ourselves. This was a sure way to either stop us from apologizing or to at least counter the apology with a self-affirming statement.”

—Lisa Kohn, author and executive coach, Wayne, PA

“It is what it is”

“In 2020, I plan to remove the phrase, ‘It is what it is’ from my thinking and help others learn how toxic of a mindset this has become in our society. I find that it stifles conversation and action, and keeps us from having a growth mindset. Instead, we’re throwing our arms in the air in defeat. This self-limiting belief can take over our mindsets and keep us from learning.”

—Darrin Tulley, founder, Canton, CT

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.