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Get To vs. Have To

January 10, 2023

I have to get to the office early tomorrow morning because I have a meeting. 

I have to get this project done because I have a big deadline.
I have to get home before 5:30 to relieve the babysitter.
I have to make our kids dinner tonight.
I have to get them to bed by myself because Laura is at work.

I think and talk this way a lot.

But what if I made one change to the way I thought about and talked about my activities?

I get to go to the office early this morning because I have a meeting.
I get to complete this project with some amazing and talented people.
I get to go home and spend time with my kids tonight.
I get to read them stories and put them to bed. 

Simply shifting my language from “have to” to “get to” helps me shift my perspective. How we view things changes how we do things. When we shift our perspective, we view our responsibilities as privileges instead of problems. 

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Kevin, this is kind of cheesy. 

I’d typically agree with you.

In the past, I’ve been peddled new age pop-psychology that promises a whole new life simply through the power of positive thinking. For the most part, this pseudo scientific approach is  intellectually dishonest, flawed, and destructive. However, in an effort to reject this, many people run to the opposite extreme and say, “My thinking doesn’t matter at all.” This perpetual chip on my shoulder doesn’t have any negative repercussions. This is also false.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So both of these things can be true at the same time:

1. Positive thinking does not mean your life will always be positive.
2. Negative thinking is certain to have negative consequences.

How we think about something and how we talk about something impacts how we show up every day.

This is true in our personal and professional lives.

Consider this. A company asks its employees to fill out a survey, and the majority say that they would like to be offered more professional development so they can develop their leadership skills. The executives at this company respond by developing a solution and telling their employees to go sign up for a course that the company is going to fund. Yet, the employees resent it because of the way it’s positioned. The executives tell the employees they “have to sign up for this course” rather than sharing that they are being granted the benefit of leadership development and are being invested in by the company.

The way something is positioned affects how others view it.
The way we position something in our minds affects how we view it. 

Each of us should remember that our thoughts and our words matter. We must train ourselves to say “I get to.” And if you lead others, work on helping them see the “get to” not just the “have to”.

Pay close attention to your thoughts and words this week. See how shifting the “have to’s” in your mind to “get to’s” might just change the way you view and do the work in front of you.


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