The Evolution Of Doing

How we think about and talk about what we “do” significantly impacts the satisfaction we get from the activity and the value others feel from the activity.

Ponder these 5 phrases: I have to do. I could do. I will do. I want to do. I get to do.

The Evolution Of Doing
The Evolution Of Doing | Image By C.Guoy via

I would refer to these as the “evolution of doing”. If we think about our activities as have to or could do, the perception is that the activities are chores, and not something we want to do. Once we “get to do” something, it sounds like we received a gift or something that we are very excited about.

Employment: Let’s start by talking about our employment. Some people think about their jobs as a daily grind. Work is something to do to collect a paycheck each week. They drag themselves out of bed each Monday, and celebrate at 5PM on Friday.

However, what happens when work goes away and it’s not your choice? We all know people who have been laid off or reorganized out of a job. They are often struggling to find work. When we meet them for coffee they tell you their job interview stories. They get feedback or perceive that they are too young, too old, underqualified or overqualified for the roles they are interviewing for. I know from personal experience that you never really know when this could happen to you.

  • Do we need to reframe our thoughts about work? Should work move from something we have to do, to something we get to do?

Careers: Next, I want to touch on career development. I am approached by many employees asking for career advice. They want tips on how they can expand their current role or move across or up. Our discussions usually lead to things that the employees “could do” to position themselves for more.

These actions include things such as to adjust their communication style, volunteer for high profile assignments or think more about big picture items versus department specific. I also recommend that they get more exposure to senior management. At the end of these discussions the employees tend to respond in one of three ways. 1) Silence. 2) “I could do that” or 3) ‘I will do that”.  I know that when employees do not commit to anything or use the word “could”, the likelihood they will take action is low. When employees tell me they “will do that”, I can feel that commitment and action is likely to happen.

  • I strongly believe that we all own our career roadmap, and until we (not our boss, or HR) take action nothing really exciting will happen. Is setting your career up for massive success something that you could do, or something you will do?

Health: Last, I want to speak to health and wellness. I do a lot of traveling and as I walk through the airports I always see other travelers in wheel chairs, with walkers and canes, or simply limping along to get to their gates. I also have a number of friends and family members that have suffered serious illnesses. They can no longer live their lives the way they want to. Many of these fellow travelers, friends or family members are my age or much younger.  This makes me appreciate the fact that I am (knock on wood) healthy and mobile, and can get anywhere I need to go.

  • With that said, why do I sometimes think to myself “I have to go to the gym”. Instead, I should be happy that I “get to go” to the gym and make myself stronger and more flexible.  Why do I sometimes think, “I have to eat this grilled chicken and vegetables instead of nachos”. I could be thinking “I get to eat this nutritious food, so I can stay healthy and have lots of energy to attack the day.”

Our brain really does help us set the stage for how we lead our lives.  How we think about and talk about what we “do” significantly impacts the satisfaction we get from the activity and the value others feel from the activity. How can we all make the shit from “have to do” to “get to do”.

© 2016, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  1. As someone in IT that services many small businesses, I find that a lot of people ask for technology tools for their jobs and either under-use them or end up not using them at all. One very pertinent example is in software licensing. I often provide users with annual subscriptions for software that ends up going to waste because the year’s subscription wasn’t used even once. What I would advocate for is using business architecture , a method to determine whether specific software (or hardware) really meets the need people within a business. I can’t say that I work with service centers, but I’d imagine that using rationalization as a means to evaluate what technology needs to be in place would help tremendously.

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