“There is a big difference between 'I must do it' and 'I want to do it' when it comes to your own life.” –Joerg Teichmann

Does reading the above quotation bring about some kind of visceral reaction in your body? That is really good information! What would it feel like to experience less “I musts” and more “I wants?” By definition to want is to “have a desire to possess or do(something).” On the other hand, must is “to be obliged or bound to.” It is a fact of life that there are things we “must” do. For instance, there are certain requirements at any job, which are musts.

Let’s take for example, that you really enjoy your job, but you are not a paperwork person. Our weekly “Stand Out” here at RI asks a question about what we loathed during the week. You loathe the “paperwork.” How can a shift be made from must to want? It helps to connect it to one of your values. Maybe one of your values is dependability. Instead of telling yourself I must do this— a shift could be— I want to do this because being a dependable person is valuable to me.

Let’s look at another scenario: you are a caregiver taking care of an elderly parent or someone with an illness, or a disabled person and they are incontinent as a result. In general, this is not a pleasant experience warranting a big “Woo hoo! I really want to do this.” What helped me when I was taking care of my teenaged son who was incontinent was connecting to my love for him and my values. The golden rule to “treat others as you want to be treated” inspired me in the hardest times. I would hope if I was ever in the same situation and needed help in this way, that the person would not do it with an angry, disgruntled attitude or make me feel disrespected or ashamed. There were times when I was completely exhausted from this unpleasantry. At one point, I wanted to (and did!) hang a nature picture that I really enjoyed above the sink where I washed out the soiled laundry, and let that take me to a happy place inside.

How can these shifts be made in your own life? One way is becoming more aware—once aware, changes can be made. It allows one to go deeper into love, values, and a space of perpetual creativity. Going from “I must” to “I want” gets us out of our head and into our heart. Doing a simple thing like changing the word “work“ to “play“ can create an amazing ripple effect. Instead of setting your alarm because you must go to work set it because you want to go play! Not only is it a kind stance toward others being impacted by the situation, but it gets you in touch with your values, desires and creativity.

Let’s play with the endless opportunities for more wants and less musts!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.