“Have to” Vs “Choose to”

choose to and have to

By Umer Raza

We do a number of things during the course of our day and lives that either “we have to” or “we choose to”. Things that we have to, are those that are either self imposed or a requirement of our position, our status in a certain group/family, or someone else’s requirement imposed upon us.


All these things that we have to do, until there is this “have to” attached with it remain a burden on us. On the other hand there are other things that we choose to do. All those things that we choose to do are something that create a personal satisfaction, relief and happiness in ourselves. For Example, i have to do dishes, i have to do groceries, i have to go to office early in the morning, i have to meet people, i have to study, i have to drive a long distance, i have to cook etc. Now let me put you to a brief brainstorming exercise . Take a pen and paper and create two columns as below, and make your own list.


I have to do I choose to do


You can make this list as long as you think of items in both the columns.


Now look at the items in your right hand column. What things have you listed in the “i choose to do”. How much time are you spending on doing these things. Do you get enough time to spend on these. If these things are so dear to you that you have written them in your choose to list than you must be spending good amount of time on these. These are things that make you happy, satisfied and relaxed. If you are not spending good time at it, you can think of an answer to “why you are not spending time on these”. These are the things that make you happy. However, there is a catch in it…..besides being making you happy are these the activities that also make you useful and satisfied with your life. Do a sanity check on this list and see what purpose these activities fulfil in your life and how are these choose to activities useful and effective for yourself. Also in the next step you can write down how much time you are spending on a daily basis on each of these items.


Now let us turn towards the left hand column. Here are the things that you “have to”. When we mention have to, it may be is a dictation from someone, a burden or a thing that is imposed upon us. Now let me give you two options for this side.


One – If this “have to” thing is such a burden and you can, by any means get rid of it……just stop doing it now. Remember you choose to get rid of it and stop doing it now.


SECOND – If this “have to” is something that you cannot get rid of and in any case you have to do it write “i choose to do ………..(before the thing you have to do).


Let me narrate a personal example here. I have to call people and meet them as this is the requirement of my work/profession. When i examined that this is an important part of my professional career and for the sake of enhancement in my professional field and career i “have to” do it. With this i will add…………i choose to do………………….. Now by simply writing “i choose to….” before the activity which is “have to” for me does not transform it in to a lively, healthy and satisfying one. There should be something more to it in order that it could become my choose to.


I choose to call people and meet them ……BECAUSE  ………it will help me in enhancing my career and professional grooming and also it will help me share my knowledge with people while helping them.

So in this it is not the activity in itself, but the end result should be a motivator. If there is no end result OR useful end result OR a purposeful end result to my activity i will never be able to be happy and satisfied from either of my “choose to do’s” and “have to do’s”.


Hence your purpose will determine if that something that you are doing is worth doing or not. Because at the end it is your life and you will be answerable to it.





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