Focus on solutions, not roadblocks

There are two words I hate in the English language more than anything else:

“Yeah, but…”

(Well, actually, I also really hate ‘I wasn’t sure’, but that’s another story my husband can tell…)

These two little words normally come after you try and offer solutions or alternative courses of actions.

For example:

YeahButter: I can’t exercise because of [insert reason]

Me/Trainer/Other person: Why don’t you do [insert solution]. That could work!

YeahButter: Yeah, but [insert a phrase like ‘I don’t have the money’ or ‘I don’t like that activity’ etc]

After a while the ‘yeah buts’ just get really tiring and you end up giving up on trying to get that person motivated.

There’s a lot of reasons people use ‘yeah but’ – they might be tired, depressed, or just lazy. Often, though, it’s not an excuse as much as it is an unwillingness to change. We’re comfortable with the lifestyle we know, even if we know it’s not our best lifestyle. And to do something different, to make a change we know will be hard, is sometimes too much.

Other times, we get so bogged down in the misery of an injury or illness or stress that it’s hard to see anything but that. Cue the ‘yeah but’.

So we acknowledge there’s a potential solution (the ‘yeah’), and then we try and find reasons not to take up that solution (the ‘but’).

Be honest with yourself – are you a ‘yeah butter’? Or do you know someone who is?


So how do we kick ourselves in the ‘yeah buts’?

1. Build self awareness

The first thing is to recognise you’re a ‘yeah butter’ (new hashtag idea! #yeahbutter). Or, to start calling out the person who is using the ‘yeah but’. Awareness of the behaviour is the first step in changing it.

2. Challenge!

The next step is to challenge the ‘yeah but’. For example, some of the things you could say about the ‘but’:

  • Is money really an issue here if you can exercise for free/cheap through your work?
  • How likely is that actually to happen?
  • Well these are some solutions I’ve come up with in just 20 seconds – what are yours?

3. Keep accountable

If you or your ‘yeah butter’ has agreed on at least trialing a solution, find a way to keep yourself or that person accountable. A few ideas:

  • Check in with a buddy
  • Put your commitment to a course of action on social media – then it’s public so it’s harder to back out!
  • Annoy the crap out of the other person until they actually follow through
  • Bribe them with rewards like a trip to the movies


So my question to you is: Are you ready to kick some ‘but’? 

1 thought on “Focus on solutions, not roadblocks

  1. Hah, totally a yeah butter atm… but I do have a 5 week old so the aim of the game is simply survival.

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