I feel like lately, I’ve been falling into the have to trap about nearly everything in my life.
I have to work out today.
I have to get outside because it’s nice out.
I have to stop eating so much trail mix.
I have to reply to all these emails in a timely fashion.
I have to post on LinkedIn.
I have to write an email.
I have to follow up with all the people I met in the last few months.
I have to pick up the house.
I have to check in on my friends.
I have to find a place to volunteer locally.
I have to relax.
I mean *screeeeeech* I have to relax? That’s on the list? I don’t want that to have to (oh GAWD seriously) be on the list. I want it to just exist without question.
But hey, I’m a human existing in the world, not immune to its pressures. I’ve got a strong sense of self, but that doesn’t mean I’m never vulnerable. And so, here I am listening to myself ramble on about all the crap I have to do, and then arguing with myself that I don’t. How annoying.
Because here’s the thing I’ve learned about my have tos: they typically come before an unspoken “in order to be a worthy/valuable/successful/productive human being.” And that’s a total, utter, blatant lie.
Seriously, if I fill in some of those blanks, I end up rolling my eyes so hard I think they might get lost in the back of my head:
“I have to post on LinkedIn in order to be productive.”
“I have to find a place to volunteer in order to be valuable.”
“I have to work out in order to be worthy.”
Wow, false. So patently false. And, like, vapid, maybe?
The weird thing I observe about the have tos that I experience, and those that my clients and friends often experience too, is that when we read between the lines, when we really look at what we’re saying or leaving left unsaid, the whole thing is so superficial. At the end of the day, most of our have tos are not have tos at all. They might be nice to haves or if I have the times or when I’ve taken care of my needs and priorities or because someone said sos. But they’re so rarely actual requirements.
Because we don’t have to do any of this stuff in order to be worthy, valuable, successful, or productive. We are inherently so.
There’s a shift here, almost a reversal, that can be incredibly helpful: “I’m inherently worthy, so I get to/I want to/I choose to [fill in the blank].”
And there’s a ton of freedom in that shift. It forces a pause. It invites a reflection prior to an action, in order to make sure the action is aligned in the first place instead of detached and strained. It allows you to enjoy worthiness and acceptance, and be a whole lot more conscious about doing and being with intention.
What you do in the pause is certainly meaningful. Obviously, you’ve got to be clear on what it is you want in order to take action toward it. And that can be tough to get to, because what we really want isn’t always the very first answer (or even the second), the one we come up with on autopilot.
But listen, openly asking the question with kindness and compassion, allowing yourself to receive and name your honest answers about what you really want – that’s a game changer. That’s a big step in moving from a whole bunch of have tos toward a life full of get tos.
I’ve been meeting with an accountability group for the last ten weeks. We identify several different types of goals each week, and this week, I finally arrived at the “doing goal” that made sense: all I have to do is just enough of what feels like the best thing for today. Needless to say, releasing all the other have tos has led to one of the most peaceful and fulfilling weeks in ages. It feels like I’m clear about and getting to do everything I want, and more. And I feel less like a diluted (deluded?) version of myself the world wants me to be, and more like my actual self, for the first time in a long time – inherently worthy.
I get that we’ll always have some actual have tos in life.
But let this blog today serve as your invitation to pause and ask more questions about just how many are real. How many are false? How many ignore your inherent worthiness and value? How many have anything to do with what you really want? How many have tos lead you not toward, but away from the life you want to live and the person you want to be?
Because truly, our one and only have to is to make the most of the extremely limited time we have on this earth. But we get to decide exactly how to do that.
If you’re feeling the have to pressure these days and struggling to find your way out from under it, consider scheduling a free chat with me to talk about how coaching can help. Sometimes when it feels too hard to ask the tough questions on your own and take a different action, it helps to have someone like me lending a hand. You can sign up for weekly emails that help too.