3 Life Changing Words

3 words.

One phrase.

“I GET to.”

Generally speaking, none of us want to be told what to do or how to do it (unless, of course, we ask).

I sat next to a woman during a presentation this week, and as she shared how she felt overwhelmed in life and burdened with too many have-to’s, I listened in awe and had one of the greatest “aha!” moments of my life. Very quickly, the phrase/thought “I HAVE to” can lead to anger, frustration, resistance, anxiety, resentment (oooooh- that’s a big one), defeat, and so much more.

These are the factors which get in our way. They affect how we focus, how we function, our relationships, our motivation and our entire way of life.

This is not to say the approach suggested here will be a fix-all – let’s be realistic; however, just making efforts to shift your thinking in specific ways can make all the difference.
Simply reminding ourselves of how fortunate we are, and that we should be grateful, and how many others have it far worse than we, is not enough to bring this principle into our reality. We know this, but it doesn’t change our day to day reactions or experiences. Try this approach: it’s a simple challenge, really. Each time you find yourself saying “I HAVE to,” simply swap out “HAVE” for “GET”. Then, if you’d like, follow it up with a reason (but not mandatory). Several simple examples are listed below.

The reasons/explanations will vary from person to person AND from day to day even for you. I suggest making them as specific as possible (ie. “I am lucky I GET to have a house to clean” vs. “I GET to clean the house which means I feel calm and peaceful when I walk into each room and can find what I need = less stress and more happiness”).

**CAUTION: Proceed with care if you consider suggesting this approach to your child/children. They may resist and see it as another have-to or directive. Perhaps model by talking aloud as you try this for yourself instead? If you are a student reading this, try it out. Tell your parents or don’t. I know the urge to NOT give them the satisfaction of seeing you make changes or do something they would like can be tempting. 🙂 Remember, this is about you. In most cases, we have a choice. If you find yourself not able to get past one of your “have-to” items, step back and assess. Do YOU really have to? Can you turn this over to someone else? Is there an alternate solution? Is there an upside? Stuck on this? Enlist help. Call a friend. Do a web search for ideas.

Happy swapping, and let us know how it works! lisa@efscoach.com OR click our social media links in the footer to comment and share! …


I HAVE to do my homework. Nope. I GET to use this homework to help practice, know what to clarify and perform better on quizzes/tests.

I HAVE to work out. Nope. I GET to work out. It’s my choice. I feel better when I do. Glad I am not currently injured. I can find fun ways to change it up.

I HAVE to get up early for work or school. Nope. I GET to get up. I can walk. I feel well. I can start over today. I can be ready early and have a few minutes to relax.

I HAVE to fire someone today. Nope. I GET to help them start a new chapter.

I HAVE to make the kids’ lunches. Nope. I GET to make the kids’ lunches. Some parents work odd hours. I get to find fun snacks to surprise them. I get to make them smile. They won’t be this young for long.

I HAVE to go to work today. Nope. I GET to go to work. Some others are out of work. There are things I do enjoy about work that I can focus on.

I HAVE to lose weight. Nope. I GET to try to lose weight. I can choose not to. I will feel better and going up the stairs or working out will be easier once I have lost weight.

I HAVE to do the laundry. Nope. I GET to do the laundry. I can help make my family members’ lives easier by neatly folding and organizing so they can have a more efficient day. I can be sure my clothes are organized so that I get that sense of relief when things are where I need them and I am not wasting time.

I HAVE to wait in this long line to check out. Nope. I GET to stand in line and perhaps practice patience. In this fast paced world, we can all use a little work on patience, right?

I HAVE to study. Nope. I GET to study. I have a chance to improve my grade. I can choose not to. I’d like to do better, so I GET to study.

I HAVE to proofread things a hundred times before putting them out there. Nope. I GET to proofread as often as I’d like. I GET to send things out and work on acceptance of the fact that things won’t always be perfect. I can let go of the fact that there will always be room for improvement and if someone judges the paper or work for a simple mistake, then I can choose to not worry about it.

I HAVE to give a presentation. Nope. I GET to give a presentation and have a chance to show what I know or help others understand or learn. I can use this for practice in my speaking skills.

I HAVE to take out the dog. Nope. I GET to take out the dog. This dog is so helpful and calming for our family. It’s worth the time and bundling in the cold so he gets what he needs.

I HAVE to go to the dentist. Nope. I GET to go to the dentist, and putting up with this one hour every six months will help me get back on track.

I HAVE to “talk” with my friend, spouse, family member about an issue. Nope. I GET to talk with them if I’d like. I can choose not to. I can change my actions and reactions instead of letting the issue consume me.

I HAVE to prove myself and self-worth. Nope. I GET to focus on the value I have and the value in what I bring to the table. If others do not see this or want to engage, then I can remember that is their choice.

I HAVE to deal with that annoying behavior. Nope. I GET to. With the good comes the bad. I can find creative ways to address it or choose to leave the situation. I can focus on the positive. I can find ways to manage myself so that it doesn’t affect me as much. This is a learning opportunity.

{Hopefully some of these have been helpful in getting you headed in the right direction.}

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For more information and access to tools, guides, and other tips, visit us on the web at www.Solutionsforstudentsuccess.com. Or Contact Solutions for Student Success for a free consultation on how to develop Executive Functioning Skills.


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