Stop calling your personal project ‘little’

Passion Project Zig Zag
Passion Project dots
Cartoon brain with a soldier hat paying attention to word bubbles that say "little"

Why is it when we describe the project that’s MOST meaningful to us do we use the LEAST important words?

“Oh that’s just this little thing I’m working on.”

“It’s not really a big deal, just for fun”

“Just my little side project.”

Words are powerful. And the words we choose to describe our passion project can have a big impact on how we and others perceive them — not to mention our likelihood of finishing them!

One word that’s used way too often to describe a personal project is “little.”

When you use the word “little” it diminishes the importance of your project. Not only does this signal to others you’re not serious about your project, but it also sends a message to your subconscious that it’s not important (and that guy listens to everything)!

Your subconscious brain is always standing by, taking notes of what’s important to you and what’s not. The classic example of how this works is say you decide to buy a Mini Cooper, and like magic you suddenly start seeing Mini Coopers all over the place. They were actually always there, your brain just got reprogrammed to pay attention because Mini Coopers became important to you.

The same is true when it comes to your personal project and goals.

Every time you use the word “little” it strengthens the belief that your project is not important at a deeper level … which results in you behaving accordingly — that “little” project ends up at the bottom of your priorities.

Side note: my mom always referred to my old boyfriends as “Ashley’s little friend” and that totally worked cause eventually I made them all disappear. 🤣

So why do we do this?

We have no problem bragging about taking on a BIG IMPORTANT project at work. Why is it when things get personal do we tend to apologize for dreaming big for little-ol’-me?

I suspect we downplay our projects as a way to protect ourselves from the uncomfortable feelings of falling short of our vision. When you shrink something scary down to something small and safe there’s less risk of failure — cause you didn’t even try your hardest.

How to use better words

Starting to pay attention to the way you talk about your project is great first step. Then when you catch yourself using a diminishing word like “little” practice switching it out for a more positive and empowering word and see how it feels. The more you do it the easier it gets… and pretty soon you’ll start to believe it!

Need some ideas? Here's some words worthy of your awesome project.

  • BIG
  • Important
  • Amazing
  • Exciting
  • Game-changing
  • Meaningful
  • Inspiring
  • Great
  • Momentous
  • Worthwhile
  • Mission
  • Fun
  • Cool
  • Hell yeah!!

Try giving your personal project the respect it deserves and notice what happens!

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