How to Turn Your Have-to's into ChoicesThere are some days that seem to start with a list of “have to’s,” so overwhelming, it seems to mock you with it’s length and tediousness.

Like a group of “mean girls” on the first day of middle school, this gaggle of “have-to’s” talks behind your back and gossips about your fashion choices – all in the service of one goal; to make your life miserable.

But you persevere.

You clutch your books to your chest, and slog your way through the “have-to’s” as they jeer and giggle at you.  You have to pack lunches for the kids and confirm that your husband will take them to school.  You go for a 20 minute run because you have to fit into your new dress for your best friend’s wedding.

You get to work early because you have to complete a project before the 10 a.m. meeting.  After work you have to make dinner, and get the kids bathed and in bed at a reasonable hour.  You have to talk to your husband about the bills and you have to get more sleep.

And at the end of the day, you fall into bed.  You survived another day of being pushed around by the “have-to’s.” And once again, they won.  They were able to make you feel rundown, reactive, unappreciated, misunderstood and left out.

Let’s face it – the “have-to’s” are on a power trip.  Isn’t it time to take some of that power back?

What if you changed the way you view the “have-to’s?

What if you viewed them as choices that you are making in each moment, and every day?  When we make choices, we are in control.  We are not reacting to circumstances – instead, we are creating circumstances.

If the “have-to’s become choices, the gaggle of gossip girls becomes a group of friends who support you in your long term goals.

Taking a run becomes an opportunity to have your pre-baby body back.  How incredible would that be?  Bathing and feeding the kids becomes an opportunity to appreciate being a mother – with all the joy that brings.  Getting to work early because your boss is counting on you – underscores your value and achievement.

Sometimes we set goals and commitments that are so large, we forget we created those goals when the minutia of keeping those goals and commitments pops up in our daily lives.  A commitment to a healthy family can become the drudgery of figuring out what the heck to serve for dinner each night.  That’s when your friendly group of choices can become a leering, back-stabbing group of nogoodnicks.

Coach Me Quick Tips for Turning Have-To’s Into Choices:

1.  Notice where you think you “have-to” do something.

What larger goal is that “have-to” serving?”  For example, if you feel you “have-to” empty the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen, maybe you are committed to a kitchen that is neat and tidy?

2.  Now ask yourself why.

Why are you committed to that goal?  Take a moment and write down a few reasons. For example, you may like the kitchen to be neat and tidy because you feel better physically or emotionally when your environment isn’t messy.  Or, you might feel you want to set an example for your children.

3.  Now you have a choice.

If you are still committed to a kitchen that is neat and tidy, you can choose to take the actions to create that circumstance.  If you no longer feel a neat and tidy kitchen is important, you can make the choice to leave the dishes alone and go read a book.

4.  What if the goals you are committed to are not your own?

What if your spouse likes a neat and tidy kitchen and you hate doing laundry?  In this case, maybe the goal you are serving has to do with compromises that you and your spouse have agreed to?  You do what you can to help keep the kitchen neat and tidy and your spouse doesn’t let the laundry pile up before doing a wash.

Clarity is everything.  Once you identify your larger goals, you will see your “have-to’s” dissolve into a group of choices that support you, laugh at your jokes, and invite you to join them at the lunch table.

Making choices in L.A.,


 Photo credit: Brian Carson via Compfight