My latest weapon in overcoming obstacles and taking action is the Have To/Get To distinction. Here’s the breakdown:
It started with a no brainer: I spend my Fridays with my son, and I don’t do this because I have to (though someone definitely does or Children’s Aid is going to come a’knocking) but because I get to. I get to hang out with him, and it’s a huge gift to myself that I always feel incredibly lucky to take part in, putting aside work and other issues for a full day of hanging out, watching the little guy grow up.
To be honest, this whole concept came out of those Fridays, plus the days his grandmas come down to watch him – at first I felt a little guilty taking up their time for “our” family’s needs, but I realized they weren’t doing it because they had to either. Physical force probably wouldn’t have kept them away.
Photo by Brian Hillegas
On the flip side, I go to the gym because I have to. I pretend it’s doctor’s orders. I used to think I got to exercise, and it became an indulgence that I felt guilty about, taking time out for me. Now it’s a mandatory activity.
The distinction is subtle in some cases, but I’m finding it powerful. I have something like eight million mental blocks and hangups that I need to work around to even function as a contributing member of society. That’s not abnormal, we all do. My thing is identifying them and formalizing the processes that let me achieve my goals.
For this one, if I’m stuck on something, I try to figure out if it’s framed in my mind as a “have to” or a “get to,” and then see what it would mean if that was flipped over. It’s gotten me to the gym for 5 of the last 8 days (OK, I went a bit overboard and needed a few extra recovery days…) and I’m hoping it’ll get me overcoming obstacles in other areas too, like, say, a few of the todo items that have been recurring on my daily lists as of late. 🙂