We often say things like “I have to get this project done” or “I have to attend an event tomorrow.” These are pretty banal comments, but there is an incongruence hidden in them that costs us energy, time, and personal power upon deeper inspection.
Simply altering one word in the above sentences can change their entire meaning. By saying “I get to finish this project” and “I get to attend an event tomorrow,” we create a completely different experience. We turn drudgery into opportunity and constraint into empowerment.
When we approach something as a “get to” rather than a “have to,” we invite the event or task as an opportunity and a gift. We gain an all-important sense of freedom in our lives that allows us to behave as volunteers rather than victims.
Give the following scenarios some thought:
- Do you have to work late the next two nights to complete a deadline, or do you get to give your best effort at something meaningful and grow through the process?
- Do you have to pick up the kids from school today, or do you get to spend time developing the most important relationships in your life?
- Do you have to follow your boss’s strategy, or do you get to learn from an expert while building skills to improve on that strategy long-term?
I was made aware of this nuance in language – and its power – approximately a decade ago. That’s not to say I don’t fall victim to “have tos” every once in a while like everyone else. But when I exercise awareness and change my perspective to “get tos,” I gain control over negative events and turn them into positive opportunities.
We don’t always have control over our obligations, but we do have control over how we approach them. So what is it going to be today? Do you have to do it – or do you get to?