Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moving From "Have To" to "Choose To" in College & Career

Remember the post I did a few weeks ago on my advice for college students? If not, I'd check it out.
To continue my trend of passing along wisdom about college, I thought I'd share something that I see in many of my clients, as well as the friends I had when I was in college (and even sometimes myself back when I was in school!).
I want to share a perspective that, if taken to heart and added to your life, could change the way you view school and your purpose there. By the way, this perspective isn't JUST for college students, and applies just as much to your work environments as well.

We are each susceptible to different cognitive distortions. One of these is the idea of "must" and "have to". How many times in your own life do you think something along the lines of "UGH, I have to do _____ and I really don't want to." My next thought is always: You don't HAVE to. You are choosing to.

You see, what we do in our lives is something that we control. If we do or don't do a homework or work assignment, if we don't show up for work or class, and if we fail- it's all our choice and responsibility alone. All of college and career is a series of choices.

Here's an example:
"Ugh- I have to write this paper on depression for my psychology class and I'm really annoyed that I even have to do it." I'm probably going to be angry, stressed, and possibly even resentful the entire time I'm working on the paper.
But what if I changed that thought to this:
"I'm choosing to write this paper on depression because I'm choosing to participate in and do well in my psychology class so that I can get grades that are good because I'm choosing to want to be in the field of psychology and counseling." That's a different perspective, isn't it? I still have to write the paper, BUT I am owning the fact that I am choosing to do this paper as part of a class I'm choosing to take because I chose a specific major because I chose a job field that I love and am interested in being a part of.

Here's another example:
"Ugh, I don't want to have to go to work tomorrow and I definitely don't want to have to do that work project." Again, stress, frustration, anger, or possible depression- everything we try to avoid if we're trying to be healthy individuals.
Let's switch it around a little:
"I'm choosing to go to work tomorrow and choosing to complete this project because I'm choosing to be active in a job that provides for me and my family." That changes perspective a bit, doesn't it?

My point in all of this is the following:
Ultimately, the things we do every day are a result of the choices we make. However, it's easy for each of us to view our lives as a series of "have to" activities being thrust upon us by others. This certainly won't lead to health and peace in our lives, will it?

What would happen if you and I (and those around us!) were able to change perspective from "have to" to "choose to"? What would be different?

Now it's your turn?
Do you or someone close to you get caught up in the "have to" in life? What are the results? What might be different if you replaced "have to" with "choose to" in your life? Are you willing to give it a try and see?

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