I HAVE to go to work vs I GET to go to work

Here’s a phrase I’m striving to eliminate from my vocabulary – “I have to…”

This occured to me recently in speaking to my children. I used to say things like the following, whether to the kids, peers, or colleagues:

“I have to go to work.”

“I have to go to a meeting.”

“I have to finish these emails.”

“I have to take an early flight.”

“I have to go workout.”

And on and on.

What kind of message does “I have to…” send to other people? In my mind, it’s something you’re doing begrudgingly – or worse yet – something you’re doing against your will. My kids both started their school experiences with Montessori, and there, they refer to what they do as their “work.” I love that word association, because work can mean myriad things, many of which are pleasurable. At age 3, they both learned that work can be both fun and gratifying.

Borrowing from the Montessori word association modeling, I’m replacing the word “have” with “get.” Just look at the difference in these two phrases. “I have to go to work.” “I get to go to work.” The former implies drudgery, the latter has endless possibilities. What nuances in vocabulary – however minor – could you see yourself changing for the positive?

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