Today I decided I “had” to get a newsletter out. It had been weeks since I had written and I wanted to reconnect with you, but I had no energy. I wrote and abandoned several articles. I like to speak from my heart to my readers and I couldn’t find my heart in the writing. “I have to get this newsletter done,” I thought to myself. Then I laughed. I doubt that many of you were sitting in your homes or offices thinking, “Where is Carol’s newsletter? I haven’t heard from her in a while!” It was my choice to do a newsletter or not. I had made up a “have to” where it didn’t exist. In that insight, this article was born.
If you are a person with a long “to do” list and feel that you just don’t have the energy to tackle the things on your list, I encourage you to go through your list and see how many of the things on your list are made up “have to do’s.” Maybe those items don’t have to be done at all or they could be done in a different way. To use another metaphor, look at all the plates you tell yourself that you have to keep spinning and see if you can put some plates down. I know you are screaming, “I can’t take anything off my list. I have to do those things.
Saying you “have to” do something can be an energy drain. Try this simple experiment pick something that you think is a “have to.” First say, “I have to do ________.” Then say, “I choose to do ________ because _________.” Notice the shift that happens in the following statements:
- “I have to write an article for this newsletter that should have been out two weeks ago;” versus “I choose to write an article for this newsletter because I want to be in touch with the people who have subscribed.”
- “I have to go to work” versus “I choose to go to work because I value being able to meet my financial obligations.”
- “I have to chaperone my child’s field trip because no other parents will do it” versus “I choose to chaperone my child’s field trip because I want him/her to have the experience and they are short of adult supervision.”
There is power in reclaiming your ability to choose. There may be things on your list that you want to do but you are depleting your energy by thinking they are “have to’s”. There may be on your list that you do not want to do and could choose to not do because you are the one that put it on your list in the first place. Or maybe it is just timing, you want to do it, you choose to do it, but it can’t be done today.
Can you find a “have to” that you made up and can let go? Good! Releasing even one “have to” can help you reclaim your power and give you more energy. It did me!
I welcome your opinions and comments below.