“There is only one thing you have to do in life.” – Brad Rex, race announcer

Brad Rex, who I jokingly refer to as my “uncle from California,” dabbles in a lot of different things: cycling, rowing, race announcing, sailing, environmental restoration, etc. Since meeting him years ago at the Great Floridian Triathlon where he announced and I raced, we’ve become good friends over the years and now every year I fly him in from Santa Rosa, CA (home of Vineman) to announce the Luray Triathlons.

Like many people, I tend to get “stuck in my head,” as I’m always worrying about all the things that “I have to do.” I play over and over in my mind: go to Home Depot, order t-shirts, contact sponsors, answer emails, create a survey, update my website, call my parents, etc. The list goes on and on! As soon as we cross one thing out, another appears. It’s never ending and seems to keep me from doing all the things that we want to do. We get frustrated.

Rather than take responsibility for our choices and actions, we easily fall into a pattern of blaming others or outside events for our current situation:

  • I can’t train for an Ironman because I work too much.
  • I don’t have enough time to train.
  • I can’t be faster because I have other commitments like a family.
  • I can’t do what I want to do because I have all of these other things that “I have to do.”

Worse yet, we might lash out at others in jealousy and fear. You can see this on message boards where it’s much easier to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet than it is to look at oneself in the mirror and ask the difficult questions: What’s going on with me? What insecurities am I projecting onto others? What choices am I not making out of fear? Etc.

Ultimately, we’ve lost control our lives and ourselves. We become unhappy, stressed out victims of the outside world.

Ughhh…..! What to do?

“There is only one thing you have to do in life,” offered Brad.

He’s right. The only thing I have to do is die. Everything else is optional.

True, there are consequences if we don’t do some things. If I don’t pay my mortgage, I may lose my house. If I don’t walk my dog, she’ll make a mess in the house. If I don’t eat and drink, I’ll waste away into nothing. If I miss a bunch of workouts

But, ultimately, we don’t “have to do” anything – we make choices about everything we do. By recognizing that we do have choices to make, we can empower ourselves and transform what we “have to do” into what we “want to do.”

Suddenly, not being the fastest in a triathlon is OK….I am making a choice to spend more time with my friends and my family rather than train all time. I am choosing to work longer so that I can get a promotion. I am choosing not to race because I want go to a wedding. Etc.

How do you deal with the “I have to do’s” in your life….?