For many, January is a time to reset. Perhaps this is the year you commit to meal planning; writing down daily “to do lists”; looking for a new job; start blogging.

In the new year we are looking for ways to be better, look better and think better. It always seems the approach with resolutions is to “fix” something that is not making us happy. We are looking to improve a situation that may not be bringing us joy.

And that is where resolutions tend to marry themselves with a quandary. We are trying to transform a negative into something positive by focusing on that negative.

For instance:

  • I hate the way my jeans fit. I HAVE to lose some weight.
  • I hate how messy my desk is. I HAVE to find a way to organize it.
  • I hate how many deadlines I have. I HAVE to manage my time better.

Attempting to fix something by focusing on all of its negative aspects rarely results in change. In fact, it only serves to exacerbate the problem. We get so consumed with all the negative roadblocks that we just give up.

Committing to a Powerful Mind Shift

What’s the better approach? Well, with many things, it’s a mind shift; and it starts by changing the phrase “I have to,” to “I get to.”

Recently a sat down with a friend — the person who I credit the shift in thinking — to strategize my goals for this year. As I described those goals, they often came with reasons why I either have not completed them or have yet to begin checking them off.

One of my big goals for this year is to produce a video that promotes my DJ services. All of the raw event footage has been shot, including video testimonials from past clients and industry colleagues.

But now that dreaded list.

I have to …

  • go through the footage and pick out the right shots.
  • write a script.
  • select music.
  • decide on a theme and style.

The list is much longer, but I’ll spare you. The video footage was completed in March 2017. And I have been in limbo ever since. The idea of all those tasks (and more) has seemed like too much to handle. So I keep putting them off.

But thanks to my friend, I have shifted my thinking. She had me change from “I have to” do all that stuff, to explaining why I should feel good that “I get to” do all of it.

I get to …

  • go through the footage that was shot by a photographer whose has had work showcased on magazine covers and has animated critically acclaimed short films.
  • use my years of experience in writing marketing copy and my college journalism education to formulate a script that will engage my future clients.
  • utilize the many resources I have as a DJ to dig through collections of music to find the right score for my video.
  • sit down with others and have a collaborative discussion on what theme and style would work best based on my target clientele.

The Power of a New Perspective

That small change from “have” to “get” brings a whole new perspective. Rather than feel drowned in our goals, we can feel privileged for having the opportunities that they present to us. And this does not even have to apply to goal setting. It works for anything that might be giving us stress in life.

“I have to get the brakes fixed on my car/I get to service the car that transports me wherever I need to go.”

“I have to make dinner for my family/I get to plan and cook a healthy and hearty meal for my family that we will sit down and enjoy together.”

“I have to take my dog for a walk/I get to be outside in the warm Southern California winter and exercise this creature that gives unconditional love to my family every day.”

In life, you don’t have to do anything (well aside from all the law abiding stuff). There’s such a negative connotation with that phrase because it is usually a directive coming from someone else. It’s often coming from a parent, supervisor or law enforcement officer telling us something we have to do something for them.

But when it’s our own list of things to accomplish, start looking at it with this different perspective. Change those “to do and have to” lists to “get to” lists.

I even applied it to this blog post — it wasn’t a “have to” this month. It was an “I get to” write a few words that will be shared around the world in the hopes that it can be insightful for just one person.

Are you that one person?

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash


Sometimes motivation is as simple (and complex) as a mind shift. What if we looked at our to-do lists as all the things we get to do instead of all the things we have to do?