‘Have to’ mindset vs ‘choose to’ mindset

There is a huge body of evidence that shows that our mindset is the foundation for high performance, resilience in hard times and our ability to find happiness and meaning in daily life.

We have the opportunity to change our world profoundly when we change our mindset.

The challenge is that many of us fall into unhelpful mental habits that sap our mental strength, drain our vitality and suck the meaning and joy out of daily life. And we fall into them without even realising we’re doing it.

One of the most simple and transformational mindset shifts I know of is the shift from the ‘I have to’ mindset to the ‘ I choose to’ mindset.

The ‘Choice Mindset’ empowers us to unwind or even eliminate much of our stress, anxiety and inner turmoil and take back our sense of agency and authenticity – allowing us to intentionally create the life we want instead of feeling stuck.

Hit play on the podcast, or keep reading, to find out how to cultivate a choice mindset, and how it can help you become mentally stronger and change your life for the better

Why ‘have to’ isn’t helpful

I ‘have to’ do the dishes, I ‘have to’ lose weight, I ‘have to’ go to work, I ‘have to’ spend time with the kids on the weekend, I ‘have to’ jump on social media for my business.

What do you notice in your body when hearing those words?

When we say “have to” it evokes in us feelings of resistance, resentment and restriction. It implies that we are doing something only out of a sense of obligation and constriction. Which in turn can drain our enthusiasm, lower our mood and elevates stress levels.

No one wants to have to do anything, right?

Recently I caught myself thinking, “I have to go and post on social media,” and I noticed my mood plummeted and I was feeling frustrated and agitated. I had been stuck in the unhelpful ‘have to’ mindset, and needed to make the shift to a more helpful approach.

The shift to ‘I choose to’

I ‘choose to’ take care of my health, I ‘choose to’ spend quality time with my family, I ‘choose to’ take out the garbage, I ‘choose to’ go to work, I ‘choose to’ go onto social media.

Then what is implied here is that we have agency and that our actions are driven from a sense of connection with our values and what truly matters to us.

When I shifted from ‘I have to’ go on social media, to ‘I choose to’ go on social media, I connected to the fact that I care about my work and I want to be able to help people. There is an important message and helpful tools I want to share that will help them.

Suddenly, my stress and resentment dissolved and I felt connected to a sense of purpose instead of pain and pressure.

That’s me, what about you? What are your ‘have to’s that need to shift?

When we adopt a choice mindset, saying to ourselves ‘I choose to’, we can approach situations differently – more intentionally, more honestly and with more agency. Just through this subtle shift in our self-talk (or out-loud talk) our attitude, our mood, our relationships and ultimately, our quality of life can transform significantly.

How to cultivate a choice mindset

If you find yourself in a ‘have to’ mindset, catch yourself and make the shift to ‘I choose to’: is there a value beneath the action that’s important to you?

Connect to the reason behind why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The reality is, that there is very little in this life that we actually have to do. We almost always have a choice. So as you go about your tasks, if you catch yourself in ‘have to’, check in. Is it actually something you ‘choose to’ do?

For instance, maybe you choose to do the dishes because you believe in fairness and kindness and want to help your partner?

Maybe you go to work because you want to look after yourself or have abundance? You choose to spend time with your family because you love them and it matters to you? Even if sometimes we feel conflicted and a part of us would rather do something else, we are still choosing our actions. By adopting the ‘choose to’ mindset we take back our sense of empowerment, agency and purpose and bring more awareness into our daily life.

Your mental strength practice for this week

For this week ahead, try a little experiment. Try substituting ‘have to’ with ‘choose to’ and see what effect this has on your body, mind and life.

Want to dive deeper into becoming mentally stronger? 

I have so many great resources to give you the support to do that.

Why not try my free 5-day Mental Strength Challenge? You can start it right away, and it’s designed to give you quick wins in your mental strength, wellbeing, happiness, and resilience.  

If you want access to ongoing tools to build your mental strength and a community to support you, join us in the Mental Strength School. For a dollar a day you can take care of your mental wellbeing once and for all with carefully crafted, cutting-edge and evidence-based tools to transform your mind for the better.

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