You Don't Have To - You Should Want To

How many times a day do you find yourself saying these words?

“I have to”

“I should do”

“I really ought to”

“I must”

I don’t know about you, yet I used to find myself saying it a lot. Far too many times for comfort. After all, what do all of the above phrases have in common? 

They are all dictated by a need as opposed to a desire. You are doing things that you wouldn’t ordinarily choose to do, meaning that you see them in a negative light. Once you see them as negative, then the actual action of carrying the tasks out becomes onerous and a real chore. 

So how do we counter these phrases then? Surely we always have things that we must do. After all, we must go to work, we have to take out the rubbish every night, we really ought to get the lawn mowed. How does our view point of these tasks change?

It’s actually a lot simpler than you would think. It’s a case of looking beyond the tasks and analysing the reasons why you are carrying them out. 

Let’s take the classic work example. I have to work. So I ask myself the question. 


Well, I have to work because if I don’t, my family won’t be able to live in our house, we won’t be able to go away on holiday, we won’t be able to have home comforts. My children won’t be able to eat healthy food (because for some ungodly reason it costs far more to eat healthy food than it does to eat junk, but that’s a whole other rant), they will be wearing old clothes..and so on. You get the idea. 

Well, I love my family more than anything, and there is nothing I want more than to be able to provide for them and give them everything they need for an enjoyable life. 

So I don’t say “I have to go to work” any more. I want to work, because I want to provide. 

Substituting have to for want to can make any task easier. 

I have to mow the lawn. Well, I like having a nice house. I love it when people say nice things about where we live and the environment we create for them when they visit. That wouldn’t be the case if there was a jungle for them to wade through before they got to the front door, so I want to mow the lawn. (OK, my wife is probably reading this laughing because our lawn desperately needs reseeding as it’s half dead - I promise I want to do it and it’s on the list! I don’t see it as a have to task)

Adopting this approach has the added benefit of allowing yourself to look at your goals, your purpose and your principles. Being a devoted family man, I find it easy to look at the big picture when saying I have to help with my daughter’s homework, I must pick up my youngest from a birthday party, I really ought to buy my wife a present. It’s very simple to look past these tasks and see how they can turn into wants. 

As a small business owner and fledgling writer, reading and studying is a necessity if I’m going to be a success. Do I have to read up on finance management? Must I market myself effectively? Should I purchase and read books on self-improvement and productivity? Well the obvious answer to the above is Yes, however I want to do them all because I want to develop a successful career as a writer and productivity coach. 

Now I can’t wait to tick those tasks from my to-do list. 

I want to wash the car because being well presented is important to me. I wantto take out the rubbish because I don’t like having bad smells and junk in the house. I want to hoover the house because I take pride in sharing the chores with my wife and helping keep her happy I even want to wipe my youngest daughters bottom because we always have a cuddle straight afterwards and it feels lush!

Your whole outlook about the tasks you have ahead of you can change with a simple shift in perspective. It doesn’t work for everything and certainly will not work for everyone, however if you can make just one job in your day easier to swallow and achieve, then you’ve moved your life slowly in the right direction - and that’s something that we all have to do. 

Sorry, I meant want to.