All posts,  Emotional Wellness

The Subtle Distinction Between “Get to” and “Have to”

This weekend was a little out of the norm for my soldier and I.  We usually spend a majority of our Sat/Sundays recharging our batteries, reconnecting and hanging out. But this wasn’t the case these past few days; I’m getting ready for a trip and he is in the final weeks of master gunner school. To say we are CRAZY busy is an understatement.  All I know is that we are both more intense than usual and my soldierman is studying his butt off (btw he could really benefit from some of my stress relieving strategies, but we all know how that goes) .

We had veered from our normal routine, our weekend was filled with errands and lots of “stuff” rather than “chill-axing”, and I noticed something. I noticed that there was a subtle difference in our mindset and the way we were going about our business. Instead of enjoying the fact that he is home taking this almost 4 month course (normally the school he’s in is run out of Ft Benning), we were trudging along doing what we had to do and spending a little too much time being frustrated that we had so much on our plates.

It was as if we were so caught up in the stress and demands of our lives that we forgot something so important.  We forgot that we chose this life. We didn’t have to leave our old stomping grounds, we chose to.  I don’t have to share my life so openly, I choose to do so in hopes that it can empower someone else. My husband didn’t have to put his uniform back on, he chose to. We chose to do these things, and usually we feel incredibly fortunate that we actually “get to” live the life we do.

So what was going on?

It was as if we had forgotten that we chose to be here. Now those of you who want to punch a civilian who doesn’t realize what they are saying when they tell you things like “You knew what you were getting into”, that’s not what I’m talking here. So please don’t walk up and smack me in the face the next time you see me at the commissary.  What I’m talking about is OUR attitude and mindset, not our situation. Something was different and it had nothing to do with being in the military.

Somewhere in the stress and chaos of these last 2 months we had gone from we “get to” make a difference and help others to the mindset of we “have to” do it. Both my husband and I are mindful of the fact that we are in the military community for MANY reasons, the majority of which have NOTHING to do with us. And usually we get energized by doing what we do. But this weekend things were different.

So what shifted? US that’s what!

We had let our busy schedules and the constant demands on our time wear us down, and once again like a 2×4 upside the head I saw it. We had gotten so tangled up in our stuff that we forgot the most important thing; we are happiest when we get out of ourselves and do what we do.  It’s the thing that keeps us going, fires us up and gives us purpose and direction, and we had allowed that to be replaced with the idea that we have to do it.

The fact that we GET TO do something  that matters is something that many people don’t have the ability to say and shame on me for allowing myself to forget that there is a difference.

That subtle distinction between “get to” and “have to” is like living under a dictatorship or having freedom. When we have to do something it feels differently than if we get to do it right? That’s what was different. That’s the thing that was sucking the happy right out of our weekend, and that’s an easy fix.

Awareness is a powerful thing isn’t it?


~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at


  • Mike Williams

    Step one is becoming aware and then step two is choice. You both seem to have a very healthy and vibrant relationship and you’re a great teacher for the rest of us. Nice to know how you navigate life, as your wisdom is quite the inspiration. My wife and I just hit or 36 year!!! Seems like 15 or maybe 10 lol

    Keep up the great work.

    Atl Ga

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