“Get To vs Have To”

Gratitude Mindset Hacks (1:4)

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In not so many words I hear everyday the words “I have to…” come out of a person’s mouth and the tone that follows is typically somber, frustrating or mad at the very least. We use the phrase ‘have to’ like it is taking away from our lives or keeping us from doing what we ‘want’ to (I’m guilty of it too). When we say ‘I have to…’ what we are saying to the world is that whatever has to be done does not really need my attention, nor should it have my attention as I must have something better to do, and I want you to join me in my plight. Let’s quickly put this in its perspective. Ever said to a friend something like “sorry, I can’t go get coffee with you, I have to go pick up my kid from school” with a bitter heart or mind. Sure, if we are being honest, we all have at least once. What would our thoughts be if our child unfortunately past away? Our minds would be in constant ‘if only’ mode. Especially around this time of year where hearts and minds tend to be a little softer, we tell ourselves or we get told to ‘live each day as if it was your last.’ Well, when I hear that, I want to sit on a beach in Cabo with not worries… Not really, because we know that that kind of response is not the meaning. So, what is the meaning? Of course, it means to be present and be appreciative of what we have. But how do we accomplish that?

A Re-Framing Mindset Is Needed

Image by Stewart Pilbrow

If we take a moment to re-frame our mindset around those tasks that must be done throughout the day and rather than verbalizing “I have to…” say instead “I get to…”. Back to our example of picking up our kid from school. Your friend says “hey wanna go grab a coffee” and you respond with “let’s schedule another time, I get to go pick my kid up from school!” See what happens there? Even as you read that your mind was saying that internally. If you are already a parent, you just felt a difference in how you view your child. Not that you love them any more (or loved them any less) however what just happened is you put yourself into the present moment and now re-framed an appreciation to the fact that not everyone who wants to pick their child up from school can.  

How we look at our situations define how we walk through them. Jack Canfield in “The Success Principles” wrote an extremely easy clarification equation for how we should show up in life. He writes “E+R=O” where E represents an event, R represents our response and O is the outcome. So, if we want to know what an outcome of an event is, look at how we respond to it. Obviously, this is most often referring to emotional or mental outcomes, however it does play out physically too. If the event is picking a child up and our response is ‘I get to’ the outcome is we show up happy, excited, present, and our child reaps the benefit, whereas if our response is “I have to” we are not present… our minds are on the other things that we ‘have to’ do.

So then, How DO we change that mindset for greater success?    

It’s As Easy As 1-2-3

There are three areas of mindset that if we take a moment to walk through will shift our thinking and better align us with a ‘get to’ mindset verses a ‘have to’ one. These three areas are to recognize, prioritize, and strategize.

The first step in changing any thought pattern or action is to recognize that there needs to be a change. Moving from a ‘have to’ to a ‘get to’ mindset requires us to look over those areas in our lives that cause frustration and evaluate how we are currently showing up. Nothing is ever completely bad, so we must be careful not to use this to beat ourselves up with. The point is to recognize our present reality.

Next, we need to prioritize our life and evaluate how much time and energy each element is receiving. If you work 16 hours a day 7 days a week, you have limited physical time, however you can still make something (or someone) a priority. How? This comes in the final piece, the strategy.

Finally, we must strategize how we show up which allows us to re-frame our ‘have’ to ‘get’ mindset. Back to the work example. If your physical time is limited, think outside the box. Maybe you check in with the family throughout your workday. Perhaps if you are an entrepreneur with time but a lot to do, put it into your schedule. I heard once of a supervisor at a fortune 50 company who methodically scheduled a block of time on his calendar as “spontaneous.” Whatever we ‘have to’ do to make it work… works.

The next time you find yourself saying ‘I have to…’ pause for a moment and walk through the three steps: recognize, prioritize, and strategize. Comment below the things you “get to” do that brighten your day.

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