The Shift from Must to Want

Take a look at your to-do list diary for today and listen to the voice inside your head. Very often it’ll sound something like this:

I have to get … done by 12 pm.

I have to go to the dentist tomorrow.

I have to speak to Jane before she leaves.

I have to get so much done this week.

It’s a small, subtle thing that has much greater impact that you may realise. When you feel you have to do something there’s an implication of force. You feel you have no choice about it. Very often you’re trying to force yourself to keep everything together.

The problem with this underlying sense of force is that it creates resistance. When we feel we have to do something it takes edge off our enjoyment. It’s no longer an expression of freedom.

In fact, we’re driving ourselves from fear. “If I don’t get it done something bad will happen.” Using fear as motivation to get stuff done is quite powerful, but I believe it’s a short-term gain which beings long-term losses.

You can see this quite clearly when you threaten children to get them to do something. At first, the stimulation is strong and effective, but it quickly wears off. Then a stronger stimulus is needed and the pattern is repeated.

When you’re doing something because you want to, or you’re choosing it, it’s quite different.

You’re drawn towards the things you want. No extra stimulation is needed, and no force. It’s natural.

When you’re very conscious of what you’re choosing in your life you’ll realise that everything in your diary or in your to-do list is a choice. You don’t have to do any of it.

You’re choosing to go to the meeting because you’ve chosen to create a business because it was the way you chose to make a living and occupy your time. You could have chosen to get a job or be unemployed or go and live in a commune. Even if your parents appeared to make the choices for you, you chose to listen to them. You didn’t have to take any notice of them.

In fact, you’ve chosen everything in your life. To imagine you have to do anything is not strictly true. If it’s not true, it feels uncomfortable so it’s not surprising that looking at your to do list as if you’re being forced to do everything on it doesn’t feel good.

You’ll free yourself up to become much happier when you take full responsibility for your choices.

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