What you call your ideas affects what you can do with them

If you call an idea a “hunch,” or a “theory,” you give yourself permission to explore it more freely.

Similarly, if you call it what it is – an idea – you’ve established it as a more concrete thing; something that has potentially reached an end state.

The words we use when we’re thinking, or working, or day dreaming, matter. They impact our processes and our perception of what we can (and cannot) do.

If you call what you’re doing “an experiment” or “play” then you’ve just made it ok to fail. A failed experiment isn’t a failure, because you can learn from it and test again. Whereas if you call what you’re doing “work,” any type of failure becomes a little bit more intimidating; something very real is on the line.

This is true about the elements and environment you work with and in as well.

Call your home office an office and it undoubtedly becomes about work, structure, and responsibility. Call it a “lab,” a “factory,” or “studio” and you’ve given yourself permission to focus on curiosity, to be an artist, or to make a mess.

If you always refer to the things you use to do what you do – the pen and paper, the keyboard, the canvas, or the applications – as “tools,” that’s limiting as well. Rather than viewing those things as tools, what would happen if you started viewing them as pieces of a puzzle, or as extensions of yourself, or as parts of your process that alienate the rest?

A peculiar thing happens when we make subtle shifts in the language we use to describe what we do and how we do it. No longer are we restricted to our ingrained understanding of these things, but we become much more aware of our own processes and the perceived limitations that were just that: imagined.

Photo by Jason Devaun.