How I switched from “have to do” to “get to do”. It wasn’t easy!

In the last couple of days, as a result of what I was reading in The Daily Stoic book, I kept thinking about the difference between “have to do” and “get to do”. An implementation first step would be for me to rename my current “To do list” excel file “Get to do list”. Really, I listed mostly items I feel grateful to have the opportunity to do, but for a reason or another, I keep on procrastinating with getting (some of) them done. A switch in approach does not sound like a bad idea. But is it really all it takes to procrastinate less?

I got the opportunity to actually practice it with one of the most dreaded items of my list.

Which is replacing the batteries of our watches and get a new watch belt for mine, as the one I had was completely broken. To be exact, this is an entry in my list with 11th of May 2019 as expiration date, but I am pretty sure it is something which needed to be done since March 2019. Anyway, I had it written down, as an action to feel inspired to do, but I kept postponing it. Until the 5th of July.

The boyfriend asked me to print out something for him at a printing place and I decided to use the errant to get some sun [and steps]. I like walking, so why not do it in the afternoon, when the morning excitement wears off? And why not take the opportunity to also get the watches done? It would basically mean more steps, so let’s do it.

I decided this two days before, when I did my scheduling on Wednesday. Now, Thursday was a great day: hanging out by the pool reading all day and swimming and then meeting one of my friends, so life’s just great. But Friday, with my errands, had less appeal.

When I woke up on Friday morning, I was angry with the world. I had to take out the trash? Mad. The coffee tasted less great. Mad. There were bad tomatoes in the fridge which needed to be thrown away. Mad. There was a big pot which needed cleansing. Mad. The bread was in the fridge for five days, so a new one needed to be baked by the time the boyfriend gets home. Mad. Lots of things to do before the boyfriend came home from his field mission and my anger just kept on rising. I love to do things for other people, especially for him, so all my anger came from one place and one place only: I really, really didn’t want to go to the store where the watches will get to be fixed. Piata Unirii.

Now, I procrastinate on things, but I usually get things done. Even when I really don’t want to. I have a pretty strong responsibility towards doing the things which need to be done and completing my mission, despite how I feels towards the activity in that moment. The point is: I will do it anyway, so why not enjoying it? Why feel angry and upset and resistant when I could find some satisfaction in doing the thing I am going to do no mayyer how I feel about it? So, before going to the printing place, where I do like to go, I thought about things I could do to actually enjoy my errands and the rest of my day.

First I charged my phone and downloaded three episodes of Happier with Gretchen Rubin to listen to on my walk. I got my sun glasses and took the stairs instead of the elevator. I then proceeded to call my mother and we talked for 20 minutes, enough to get close to the printing place. I turned the podcast on and while walking the remaining distance to the printing shop, I thought about buying a nice cup of coffee to drink on my way to the watch repairing store. But the coffee place was closed so I got a sugarless Pepsi instead. And the moment I opened the bottle I realized that I could actually turn my anger around, although is not easy nor instant.

So, the watch repairing implied going to Piata Uniri. Now, don’t get me wrong, the place is nice, but it’s so crowded and it’s among my least favorite places in the city and I avoid it as much as I possible can. And I can a lot.

But the thing was that this task can be done only there (to be read: I am sure I can get it done there and have no time to try other places because I had already done that and it did not work). So I had to go to Unirii.

Hot sunny day in Bucharest and I was walking on the Boulevard following the shadows and drank my Pepsi when thought that I can get to Unirii by passing through the city center. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it reminds me of spending time with my friend in Denmark in the old city center and she likes the place very much [hi, Mada]. And those memories do make me feel better.

15 minutes after my walk through a not very crowded city center, there I was, in front of the watch repairing shop. 30 minutes more and both watches were fixed. It felt great. My watch looks so great with the new blue belt. So, my anger and resistance were lower, almost non-existent. It was about 14:45 in a hot summer day, I was wearing no hat and I had to walk home on streets where I knew there were almost no trees. My enjoyment lowered a little bit.

But still, I got out of the store and walked through Unirii square where I stopped by the fountains I didn’t yet get to see this year (I guess it’s been about two years, I really don’t go to Unirii). It looked so great, I even stopped to take some pictures. I felt a little bit better. So, instead of going home to watch some series trying to forget about my day, I got things done, walked around enjoying [parts of] my walk and got home to read and write some more [after a two hours nap though].

I know it’s a process when trying to turn things around for myself. I am cognitively aware of the steps, but emotionally it might take even more effort to switch from a “to do” mindset to a “get to do” one. But what is life other than experimenting in order to feel more satisfied with living?

I believe it’s important to live every day at a time and use the experience to learn how to make things better for oneself! We’re only human, so let’s be kind.

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