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Finding the Balance: “Get To” and “Got To”

We all talk to ourselves; I think it’s time that we talk about that!  And no, I don’t mean that we are all “losing it”.  I’m talking about running commentary we all have with ourselves daily; whether it’s reminders of what we need to do, how we need to do it or even our feelings about a situation.  The words, whether we simply think them or say them out loud, influence how we feel about our to do lists, situations, and life in general. As with everything we do, words matter, and the main culprits here are the phrases, “get to” and “got to.” For such small phrases, they have a large impact in shaping our mindset, and therefore, our approach.

Let’s take “got to”; it sounds familiar, right?  It’s like the unofficial anthem of adulting, and we all know adulting is usually not fun! “I got” is usually followed by some dreadful chore we must do to keep our lives in order such as: “I’ve got to pay the bills,” “I’ve got to finish this project,” “I’ve got to do the laundry”, etc.  It’s all the stuff we must do. Necessary? Absolutely. Exciting? Not so much… it makes our days feel like a never-ending to-do list.  Does anyone here remember when Saturdays used to be fun?! If yours are anything like mine are, by the time I’ve gotten through my “I got” list, the day is almost gone!  ☹

But here’s where “get to” plays a part.  If we flip the script, turning those mundane must-dos into something special, it feels different.  It’s like the cool uncle who shows you a trick that you didn’t know before. “I get to work on this project” suddenly turns an obligation into an opportunity, something that may be fun. See the shift?  It’s like a breath of fresh air, making life feel a little lighter, a bit more colorful.  It doesn’t work for everything- but wait- maybe it does.  Let’s take “I got to pay the bills”, dreadful, right?  What if instead we coupled it with something fun, for example “I get to pay the bills, so I can then go out with my friend”.  You are still paying the bills, but in doing so, you are getting that chore out of the way so you can do something fun!

Life will always be a mix of “got to” and “get to” tasks.  Both are necessary, the “got to’s” keep us grounded, responsible, and on track. They’re the unsung heroes that make sure we’re adulting right, keeping the lights on and our lives in order. But if we think about what we “got to” do, we can cast a heavy shadow of pressure and stress into our lives.  Sometimes we even slow down or procrastinate on the “got to’s,” making the problem worse.  The “get to’s” are our game changers. They sprinkle a dash of magic on our routine, turning obligations into possibilities and reminding us of opportunities nestled within our obligations. It’s less about crossing things off a list, and more about collecting moments of progress and achievement.

Some say the trick is to find the balance; I’m starting to think the trick is making our own balance. What if we first took our list of chores, our “got to’s” and reframed them into “get to’s”?  I think that will make the load a lot lighter and from there, anything we can’t convert may feel different, lighter.  So, let’s give it a try and see what happens. It can’t hurt, and it may just make the difference you are looking for!

For me, well I got to go pay the bills, but when I’m done, I get to meet some friends for drinks, dinner and fun. That seems like a good deal to me!

Happy balancing!


“The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.” – Dalai Lama


Have a great weekend.