Why You Don’t “Have” to Do Anything  

You get to — not have to.  

That increasingly popular phrase is growing for a reason.  

It speaks to a new mindset, a shift in thinking and processing one’s brain into realizing that we don’t have all of these responsibilities bogging us down – rather, we have opportunities.  

This year is a year bubbling with new ideas waiting to be explored, tasks to take on and when you add on new and daily responsibilities, think that you “get to” do things and not “have to.” But it starts with the mind.  

Timothy A Pychyl, a faculty member of Carleton University’s Department of Psychology, who wrote numerous journal articles, conference presentations and edited books such as “Procrastination, Health, and Well-Being,” talked about how being externally motivated can undermine willpower.  

“I’ve got to get this done. I’m going to try and do that tomorrow. Both of these statements signal upcoming problems for really getting things done,” Pychyl said in a Psychology Today article adding that how people word things can make all the difference. “When I ‘gotta get something done,’ it’s often because I’m expected to, it’s expected of me, and the motivation is external to me. When I ‘want to get something done,’ we see this more as internal motivation.”  

Pychyl added that external motivation involves people having “self-control to be successful,” which only lasts for so long because it’s not truly coming from within.   

“We have to exert our will to get down and work at the task as intended. We can do it, but it will cost us,” Pychyl said adding that exertion of self-control empties people out and pivoting the mind to be more motivated comes from an internal change.  

“We still require self-regulation to act as intended, but this self-regulation is seen to be more invigorating, less depleting. We’re working more from intrinsic interest, or at least more internalized interest in the task at hand. It’s not that we’re forcing ourselves, and we do have to expend effort and focus our energies, but we’re interested and fueled by the work,” he said in the article.  

Many know that words hold power—it’s true. Yet, so do thoughts and ideas that are not even verbalized.  

Be Spoke Wellness Partners wrote that mindset shifts start with becoming a priority in your own life and the change happens when we watch our thought patterns and learn to be what some might call a bit selfish (but without the guilt) for starters.  

“When you think about paying attention to yourself—your dreams, your body, your mental health and everything that has to do with you—what is it that you are thinking about?” author Limor Weinstein wrote. “How would you feel if just for one hour (and maybe we can even stretch this a little bit to one day), you only think about you and your needs? Many of us confuse taking care of ourselves with being selfish or inconsiderate, but if you truly give this some thought, you’ll realize that in order to be all that you want for everyone else, you must first take care of yourself and make yourself a priority.”    

Once knowing you are the priority, then prioritizing what is important and what can wait professionally and personally can make the day go a whole lot smoother.  

Instead of saying “I’ll try to get that done today” often than not it won’t get done, which can be a form of unintentional self-sabotage.  

“There are times when extenuating circumstances may prevent us from acting, but I’m not talking about this form of delay. I’m speaking to those moments of voluntary delay where we know we have the time to do something, that it’s in our best interest to do it, but we still say, ‘Yeah, I’ll try to get that done today,’” Be Spoke Wellness noted.   

Being more mindful of where attention is directed is also key to finding the underlying cause of why people delay things, which can cause another myriad of problems on and off the job, according to Be Spoke Wellness.  

“It is a choice we make in language, and it’s a choice in our perspective. Do I have to do it, or do I want to do it?” 


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