Archives for December 14, 2011

But, I HAVE to!

It’s probably the time of year for many of you to be attending Christmas parties. While it’s supposed to a nice, relaxing time with family and friends, we often feel overwhelmed. Too many gifts too buy. Too much food to cook. We end up rushing around, from party to party, stressed out and anxiously awaiting the end of the holiday season. When did it get this way? When did celebration turn into obligation?

Here’s an idea: if you really don’t want to go, why don’t you cancel a Christmas party? “But I can’t,” you say, “I have to go!” But, do you really? What is the law of nature forcing you into attending Christmas parties? Do you really have to?

Do Everything Because You Want to Do It

How’s that for a lofty aspiration? Only do what you want. Is it possible? Yes, I believe it is. And you can go about it in two ways:

  1. Stop going to so many Christmas parties, because you don’t want to go to them.
  2. Start wanting to go to Christmas parties, because the value of spending time with friends and family is worth the work that goes into it.

This isn’t just about Christmas parties, though. It’s about everything and your personal and professional life. You don’t have to take your kids to church. You don’t have to do what your wife asks you. You don’t have to train your employees. You don’t have to listen to your customers. You don’t have to do anything. Maybe you should, but you don’t have to. Anything you decide to do, you should do because you want to–because you value that decision.

The Power of Choosing

When you use the terminology, “I have to ______,” you are doing more damage to your personal autonomy than you could ever know. What you are telling yourself is that you are a slave to your circumstances. You are powerless. You have no choice. You are defining yourself by what happens to you in life. You are reducing your personhood to a mere jumble of reactions to your environment. Is that really all you are?

No, you have a will. You have the power of decision–the power to choose what you believe and how you will behave. Are there things in your life that you would rather not be doing? Maybe you shouldn’t be doing them. Or, more likely, maybe you need to change your perspective about them. Why are you doing them? What are you getting out of them?

When you began to see the value in things–for example, Christmas parties–you can more easily change an obligation into a desire. You want to take your kids to church, because you want them to learn good morals. You want to do what your wife asks, because your care about her and respect her desires. You want to train your employees, because you want them to grow as professionals. You want to listen to your customers, because you want them to value your services.

Do you find yourself using the expression, “I have to?” I think it’s time you stop, but not because I’m telling you to; rather, because you really want to.

If you find yourself wanting to have greater engagement with your customers and are interested in finding out how,

featured image courtesy of Valerie Everett licensed via Creative Commons