You Don’t Have to be Working

Published on
March 9, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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I can’t, I have to work.

Very few things drain the spirit more than uttering those words. For two reasons –

“have to” suggests indentured servitude. No choice. No freedom.

“work” Opposite of play? Lacking fun or creativity? Synonyms include: labor, toil, slog, drudgery, exertion, effort, industry, service.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote about the power of shifting your language from “have to” to “choose to”, thereby owning your decisions.

So “I choose to go to work” becomes a positive reinforcement of intentional choice.

But what about “work”? I’ve found there’s power in more specifically articulating what you’re doing. ‘Work’ is too vague; too all encompassing. Instead of saying you’re working, see if one of these might be a more appropriate description:

  • Creating
  • Building
  • Refining
  • Maintaining
  • Managing
  • Communicating
  • Strategizing
  • Providing input
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching
  • Problem Solving

Don’t those sound like a lot more fun? And, as an added bonus, the very act of applying a more specific term clarifies the nature of the work you’re doing, making you more focused and engaged.

So no, you don’t (ever) “have to work”.