“I Have To” vs. “I Choose To” – Changing Up Your Thinking For a More Joyful Life

Think about the last week: how many times have you described something you are about to do as “I HAVE to do XYZ”? 1? 100? 1000?

“Today, I have to go to the store”

“I’m sorry, I can’t go to yoga, I have to go to an appointment”

“I won’t have time to go for a walk today because I have to vacuum”

“I won’t be able to meet my friend for coffee because I have to run errands”

Even, “I have to go to my friend’s birthday party… or my child’s play…”

Etc. etc. etc. …. We use this phrase from everything from pleasant outings to mundane errands to the harrowing task of clipping our kids’ fingernails.

Language is a powerful thing. Yes, there are always things that we should prioritize and things that do truly need to get done. But, in reality, do we HAVE to do most of the things we use this phrase to describe? NO!

What if instead of saying we HAVE to do something – we say that we are CHOOSING to do it?

When we speak truth to the fact that (almost everything) we use our time for is a choice, we empower ourselves to give our energy to things that we value. And, we give ourselves the opportunity to view our choices in a more positive light.

Think about it: “I am choosing to pick the kids up early and take my daughter to her rehearsal this afternoon” feels a lot better than: “I HAVE to pick the little kids up early from daycare, and then I HAVE to rush to the school and pick up my oldest and then I HAVE to take her to her rehearsal”.

And, if you really think about it, the first phrase is true. I am choosing to do this.

Will the sky fall if I don’t choose to have her participate in this activity or attend this particular rehearsal? Maybe I’d like to think I’m that important, but the reality is that no, it will not.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on being busy, and on obligation. It seems that young parents are especially vulnerable to this plague. We are “supposed to” keep up with the Joneses. It seems like we are expected to put each of our kids in 17 different weekly activities. Then, we “have to” shuttle them all from place to place with begrudging devotion. Powering through, while painting ourselves as martyrs for doing it.

Well, I’m calling BS! I carefully weigh the options and CHOOSE what activities I put my kids in and what things I do myself. I choose the things that I think are valuable and important. I choose to prioritize spending time with my family, doula work, and teaching the boomer yoga class because these things are important to me. Almost everything else comes next – after these obligations… I mean CHOICES.

Yes, it’s easier to turn something down when painting another commitment as non-optional. But the reality is that pretty much everything we do is a choice. OWN it! Now, off to pick everyone up early and head over to that rehearsal!

Let us know what you think.