You Don’t Have To Go To the Gym (or anywhere else)

John’s mother knocked on his door.  “John, it’s time for church.”

“I don’t want to go,” came the reply.

“You have to go to church today,” his mom said.

“I don’t want to go. It’s boring; I don’t like the people there; they don’t like me.

“John, there are two reasons you have to go to church.  First, you’re 47 years old.  Second, you’re the pastor.”

OK, old joke.  But I think that’s how a lot of people feel.  But it’s not just church we feel stuck with; it’s work, it’s the gym, it’s helping our child with their homework or visiting relatives.

I run into these people often in seminars.  They feel trapped in a job they don’t like because they need the money.  Or they hate exercise, but go to the gym because they have to.  Time spent with people feels like an unavoidable delay in their schedule.

I read a study this morning that said that about 80% of people surveyed would change jobs if they had the opportunity.

“I have to go to work” – “I have to go to the gym” – “I have to . . .”

Saying we “have” to do something means we don’t have a choice.  We’re at the mercy of someone else’s demands.

exercise-boredomIf we feel like we have to go to the gym, it becomes something we dread.  With that perspective, it takes every ounce of willpower to grab our shoes and get out the door.  Then, we’re counting the minutes until it’s over.

If we feel like we have to go to work, we’ll arrive at the last possible minute and count down the hours until we can leave.  We do the work, but we’re not fully engaged.

If we feel like we have to help our 6th grader with their homework, it becomes an unbearable chore.

What if we could change “have to” to “get to?”

It’s a subtle change.  But what if we started seeing all of life through a filter of gratitude?

How would our days be different if we said, “I get to go to work today” . . . ?  There are a lot of people who would give anything to be able to go to work today.

What if we thought, “I get to go to the gym” . . . ?  We could be grateful for the ability to work out and the chance to invest in our physical capacity – something that not everyone can do.

How would we look at 6th grade math if we said, “I get to invest in my child tonight” . . . ? Ten years from now, we’ll wish we had those intimate moments with that same child again.

Ten years from now, we’ll look back on our work – and our times at the gym – and those encounters with our kids.

Will we have regrets?

Not if we’re grateful now.

Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books – including “People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys,” “I Wish He Had Come With Instructions,” and “Dealing With the Elephant in the Room.” (See Book page)

  • Jim Hale

    Great reminder today on the importance of gratitude, Mike!! Thank you for this! Now I get to go to the gym…