Do I have to?

Reframing ‘Have to’ as ‘Get to’ is one of the most popular concepts in positive psychology.

You know how it goes. There are times when we’re frustrated that we have to do something. Maybe we don’t want to do it, or would prefer to be doing something else. Maybe we’re just fed up of it?

But when we step back and think about it a little differently i.e. reframe it, then we can shift our relationship with the obligation in question. Replacing have to with get to reminds us of our capability and our privilege, and that we can actually contribute.

So instead, our inner dialogue sounds more like, “I have a job. I get to be of service here. I can make a difference”. Posture, energy and attitude all shift in a better direction.

In recent months though, I’ve observed a fascinating change in the dynamic of ‘get to’ and ‘have to’.

The pandemic has upended many things. There’s been a bunch of tasks that previously we had to do which we no longer have to do, or at least are not permitted to do. Similarly, there are quite a few things that we no longer get to do, or at least can’t fully until restrictions ease.

As the world readjusts to wider interaction, we have a (brief) moment of opportunity to recalibrate our have tos and get tos.

Maybe our list of have tos doesn’t need to be as long? Maybe we get to do more than we feared possible?

Perhaps the old line about death and taxes has more relevance than ever?


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

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