Here’s a synopsis of my weekend:
“I have to drive to Macon for Alumnae Weekend, where I have to host a bunch of events. I had to go out and buy three new outfits for all the parties. I have to speak at a luncheon. I have to come up with something to say to open the Celebration Concert. After the concert, I have to run across campus to host a cocktail reception. Then I get to go back to my hotel and crash.”
All of those statements are true, and it’s pretty much the way I’ve been thinking about a very exciting weekend that’s coming up. But that paragraph sure does remind me of the scene in the movie “Parenthood,” where Mary Steenbergen and Steve Martin are discussing the fact that they might be having another baby. He is being pulled away from the discussion. She asks, “Do you really have to go?” and he moans, “My whole life is ‘have to.'”
This is a habit that I have noticed in myself and I think it’s a habit among busy grownups. We mentally list all the things that we have to do, our responsibilities. The danger of a “have to” mentality is that it places more weight on the responsibility of an event or a task and makes it less about the opportunity.
What if we swap “have to” for “get to?”
“I get to drive to Macon for Alumnae Weekend, where I get to host a bunch of events. I got to go out and buy three new outfits for all the parties. I get to speak at a luncheon. I get to come up with something to say to open the Celebration Concert. After the concert, I get to run across campus to host a cocktail reception. Then I have to go back to my hotel and crash.”
It’s a verbal shift that inspires a mental shift. Like that piece I wrote about calling yourself a woman instead of a girl. The words I use to describe my life don’t just reflect my attitudes about life–they help to create those attitudes!
Yes, my weekend is filled with events that are my responsibilities as president of my college’s alumnae association. The words I use to talk about them should honor the fact that they are also delightful OPPORTUNITIES! I get to drive to Macon because G is taking care of the kids all weekend. I get to host parties–the joy of an extrovert! I am lucky enough to be able to afford some new clothes. I get to talk into microphones and I do loooooove talking. There’s music! And wine! And reunions! Why am I saying “have to” when I am lucky enough to “get to?”
Sure, sure, some have to’s are just WORK. It’s hard to say, “I get to have a biopsy!” or “I get to clean up this dog barf!”
Nevertheless, here’s my challenge to you today. Listen to yourself talk. When you hear a “have to, ” can it be swapped out for a “get to?” If you try it, let me know how it went!