When I was growing up, my parents instilled in me that the “have to’s” and “must to’s” come before the “want to’s” at an early age.
You must eat your vegetables if you want dessert.
You must clean your room if you want to play.
You must finish your homework if you want to watch television.
You must complete your chores if you want your allowance.
It’s a philosophy I have carried with me throughout life, and it has served me well.
I have to practice my violin if I want to take advantage of being seen as a musician: play with the first violin section of an orchestra (and I had to sit second violin for several years to earn the right to move to the first violin section); play individually with theater groups and as entertainment; and be acknowledged as someone worth taking lessons from.
I have to put in the hours writing sentence after sentence that may or may not ever see the light of publishing if I want to improve and be acknowledged as a writer.
“Doing what I have to until I can do what I want to” has taught me to focus on the end (what do I want to do) and build backward, looking at what I have to do to get where I want to be.
When I was in the middle of my divorce, money was tight. With two kids in parochial school, money was even tighter because there was no financial help. Divorce, if you have never been there, is expensive, and I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from. In my initial discussion with a lawyer, she offered me the opportunity to do much of the research, fact gathering, and writing of the divorce paperwork in order to off-set her cost because I taught high school English/language arts. Win-win.
With 20 years and 9 years of education invested in a teaching career, I became disenchanted with the direction of education: especially the massive amount of testing. However, I had to finish out my career in order to benefit in my retirement. If I want to do my own thing (write and travel) in retirement, I needed to stick with a career that continued to frustrated me.
SOMETHING TO TRY
What is it you want? Where do you want to be? Set a timer for 10 minutes. Write down what you want. In fact, take time to write down all of the things that you want. Brainstorm. Dig deep.
Take ONE of those wants and work backward. Identify ALL of the “have to’s” that are necessary to get you to the WANT. Put them in order. Now, that is a checklist that can take you to your WANT.
On a final note. For some people, it helps to share openly with others so feel free to declare your number one WANT in the comments below.