Have to or Want to

by Betsy Butterick, The Coaches' Coach & Communication Specialist

The month known for Madness could not be more aptly named. Last week I took the hour between webinars to get some air and work on my short game at the local golf course. After 20 minutes of putting I packed up and the nearby security guard said, "That's it? That's all you're gonna do?" I smiled and what came out was, "Yeah... I have busy."

(I have busy. Clearly I specialize in communication).

Yesterday I left the apartment to run errands and only upon getting to the car did I realize I was holding my dog's leash instead of the keys. (In fairness both hang by the door, but it totally explains why she looked at me oddly as I walked out). 

March has been Madness - and with each escalated bit of crazy it's easy for our "To Do" list to feel more like an obligation than a choice. 

Recently I read "Emotional Agility" by Susan David - awesome book by the way - and while I loved it for many reasons, she had this to say about about "want to's" and "have to's":

"Want-to goals reflect a person's genuine interest and values (their "why"). We pursue these kinds of goals because of personal enjoyment, the inherent importance of the goal, or because the goal has been assimilated into our core identity. Most importantly, these goals are freely chosen by us.

Have-to goals, on the other hand, are imposed by others, or our own sense of obligation to some internal narrative or external goal and often make us feel constricted and deprived."

She goes on to say that, "If life is a series of small moments, each of which can be adjusted ever so slightly, and all of which, in combination, can add up to significant change, imagine how much ground you could gain by employing the simple tweak of finding the "want to" hidden in the "have to." Understanding what we want in the big picture helps us find the desire in circumstances where we otherwise might only see obligation."

Last night after getting into bed I realized I hadn't done the rehab exercises for my MCL tear. "Do I want to get up and do rehab?" Nope. Rehab absolutely felt like a "have to", but then I thought about what I'd read and instead asked, "Do I want to have full use of my knee and do things I love like running and yoga without worrying about injury and stability?" YES. 

When I reframed the "have-to" in terms of what I want it immediately became something I "get-to" do instead of one more obligation.

The next time you're faced with a have-to (a spreadsheet, or household chores, or any task that isn't the least bit exciting) see if you can find the "want-to". Put freedom of choice back in play and enjoy how good it feels :)