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Do you have to or.. do you get to?

What if there was one simple word that could change how you perceive many of your stressors, not as red emergency lights, but as green blinking lights inviting you to take action?


Post-Covid, we continue to be challenged by political and social divides, war, climate change, food prices, educational issues, and healthcare inadequacies. We are pulled in different ways and the overwhelm can continue to build.


We get to the point where we may start to treat all of our tasks and to-do’s as emergencies with little red lights on top. “Get me done first!” “No, no, do me first!” “I’m a task that absolutely can’t wait.” Do me now!” “Your manager is waiting for this – get it done now!” “Mom, can we play now?”


But we don’t have to react in full-on stress mode 24/7! That’s right – we don’t “have” to. Here’s why.


Every time our brain receives a stimulus, it requires a response. And in between the stimulus and the response is the gap. This is the one place in our entire thinking, feeling, and behaving process that we have 100% control. Just us!


In this gap, there is one simple word that we can use that helps turn red lights into green lights. But, before we get there, do this exercise for yourself, or as a family, or as a work team.


1. Write the phrase “I have to . . . .” at the top of a piece of paper.


2. Quickly start listing all the things you have to do (today, this week, next week, next month) and don’t stop until you have a difficult time thinking of anything to add to the list.


3. When done, read them out loud to your family members, or your team members. For example, you may have changed “I have to clean the toilet” to “I get to clean the toilet.” Really??? Be prepared to have some fun and a few laughs as you do this! These are statements of obligation that you feel have been brought about by the world around you. They are things you think you “have” to do. What if you could turn several of these statements of obligation into statements of opportunities?


4. Change the word “have” to “get” in each of your statements. Have everyone do the same thing.


5. Then read your statements out loud once again. How do you feel? Has your perspective changed? Still having a bit of trouble changing your perspective?


6. Read the statements with the word “get” out loud again but this time with a smile on your face and a heart of thankfulness, like “I actually get to do this!” Notice any difference in how you feel about some of the statements?


In many ways, using the phrase “get to” gives a sense that it is a privilege for you to do that activity.


For sure, you can’t do this with all of your tasks. There will still be some red emergency lights blinking in your mind. But the bright green “get to” tasks are now inviting you to “see” the important things in your life as opportunities, not obligations.


Concentrate on doing this each time you bump into the “have” word. Whenever you can, change it to the “get” word. It will become a habit in no time and change your perspective each time you do. There are so many opportunities when you start the thought with “I get to . . . .”


“Do I have to or do I get to?” It’s your call!


If you liked this content, check out my free downloadable article on Imposter Syndrome.

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