“I have to go to work.”
“I have to stay home to take care of my kids.”
“I have to go to school.”
What is common in those sentences? It’s one simple word: have. I cringe every time I hear someone use that word.
One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is that there are only two things we absolutely cannot, cannot, cannot avoid. Can you guess what these two things are?
Nope, it isn’t taxes. Nope, it isn’t breathing.
The two things you cannot avoid is birth and death.
You have absolutely no say in when you are born. You have absolutely no say in when you die (some argue that you can influence when you die but you cannot choose the actual date, it’s going to happen one way or another). Taxes don’t count. Sure, you’ll go to jail for not paying taxes but you can choose to do that. Breathing doesn’t count either. You chose to breathe. You can choose to not breathe and kill yourself. The bottom line is that you have a choice in absolutely everything you do… except in birth and death.
Now that realize that we have a choice from what we do to what we say, let’s re-frame life. I’ll take the same sentences we used at the beginning of this post and change have with a different word: want.
“I want to go to work.”
“I want to stay home to take care of my kids.”
“I want to go to school.”
Just by replacing “have” with “want”, you can actually feel the difference. You feel more in control of your life. You actually start to wonder if it’s something you really want to do. Maybe you’ll realize that you really don’t want to do it and make choices that better fit your life. Maybe you’ll realize that you really want to do it and stop moaning and groaning about it. You are empowered. Destiny is now in your hands, your control because you want it to be.
Sure there are moments where you feel like you “have” to but the reality is that your two wants are conflicting and you feel pressured in choosing the lesser.
Let’s pretend you’re a 16-year-old teen who really wants to go to a party your classmates are hosting but your parents are telling you that you can’t. You have two wants: 1) you want to go to the party and have fun and potentially hook up with your long-time crush and 2) you want to listen to your parents because you don’t want to be grounded or have your phone taken away. In immaturity and the heat of the moment, we blame the fact that we cannot satisfy our true wants on something that we think we cannot control. You can say “I have to listen to my lame parents so I won’t be grounded. Ugh. I hate them.” Or you can breathe and realize that you have a choice, “I want to respect my parents so I will not go to the party.” While your parents aren’t any bit cooler, you feel more in control of what happened. As a result, you don’t waste energy being angry or in a negative mood because we THINK we cannot control it. Sure you can sneak out and go to the party anyways but if you don’t, it’s not because of your parents but that you don’t want to get caught.
See what I mean?
Go ahead and say the following sentences. Pay attention to how you actually feel when you say it. It’s crazy to feel the difference between want and have:
“I have to clean my room.” vs “I want to clean my room.”
“I have to stop drinking.” vs “I want to stop drinking.”
Feel it? Just by one word, we’ve changed how we feel. Isn’t that amazing? That’s the beauty of life. You actually have a choice in what you do.
When I realized this in middle school (in part thanks to my favorite book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens), I eliminated ‘have’ from my vocabulary and replaced it with ‘want’. Since then, I’ve been much happier and have been paying attention to what I really wanted to do and why. I made better choices and found peace with the world. I wanted to work 40 hours a week during high school so I could get a head start on being a CEO. I wanted to go to college to earn a bachelor degree. I wanted to not live with my long-time boyfriend so I could keep my cherished Miss Deaf Texas title.
I wanted to move to Aspen and California even though it resulted in losing my first love. I wanted to work at Aspen Camp so I could inspire other kids to achieve their dreams the way Aspen Camp did for me when I was a kid. I want to go to my office every day and make magic happen. I want to run so I can feel good about being active. I want to drink water than soda because I want to take care of my body. I want what I want and I never do what I don’t want to do. I never ‘have’ to do anything because, in the end, I choose what I want to do.
And I’m happy. And I don’t regret a single moment.
And I want the same for you.
Re-frame your life. Change your vocabulary today.