We hear it repeatedly and see it daily across our respective Facebook news feeds, too many people mentioning all of the things that they “Have to do.” Very little about what it is we want to do, or need to do, but a heck of a lot about what we have to do. My son is catching on to the flaws in such poor word choice, but I believe it is far more than words, it is how people truly feel. He is now quick to remind me that nobody has to do anything…clearly he listens to our conversations. My wife and I have been long time believers that everything in life is a choice and that there are no “Have Tos”. Some choices we are conditioned to make without any deliberate thought, while others are calculated. Some choices we make because we truly know what we want, some choices we make because we aren’t big fans of the potential repercussions of our desired course of action. For example,

We don’t have to work where we do, we choose to
We don’t have to send our kids to school, we choose to
We don’t have to eat what is put in front of us, we choose to
We don’t have to attend a given social function, we choose to
We don’t have to eat well and work out regularly, we choose to
We don’t have to do what others ask/tell us to do, we choose to
We don’t have to endure a long commute to work, we choose to
We don’t have to meet the deadline we are given, we choose to
We don’t have to serve our country in far off lands, we choose to

A life of “Have Tos” is no fun, while a life of “Choose Tos” is not only fulfilling, but also reflective of our authentic selves, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. I would offer that if any of us feel as though our life is tilting toward “Have Tos”, we are too lazy to change things, denying our ability to control a given aspect of our life, or more comfortable having others dictate how we should live our lives.

I can assure you that everything I do is a choice, some more deliberate than others, but a choice nonetheless. Likewise, I freely admit that I sometimes make bad decisions or use flawed logic in my calculus. Life is too short to allow it to be filled with “Have Tos”. Next time you think about making a statement that begins with “I have to…” replace it with “I choose to…”. I’m willing to bet you’ll feel differently about the action you are about to take. If not, I ask that you choose not to do it or give the decision criteria you are using some additional thought.

Everything in life is a choice; it’s our responsibility to both see it as such and take ownership of the results. If we don’t, we are merely living someone else’s life.

  • What do you have to do today?
  • What do you want to do today?
  • How misaligned are those two answers?