Had to do, have to do and want to do – where are you?

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New Year’s just arrived, time to re-calibrate and take those first few steps forward into the unknown year. It is also timely to ask yourself a question that you might not have really thought about…where you are in your life? Over the years, I have had experiences with working with individuals in three zones. They are the ‘had to do’, ‘have to do’ and the ‘want to do’. It is by having a conversation that a person realizes that they are in one area and they are asking about moving into another zone. What are these three areas?
Had to do – are you at that point in your life where this is what you ‘had to do’ to start your career and had to take the first opportunity that presented itself. This is the point where you have not had a lot of choice, input or influence and have to just do what is required but it does not fit who you are or what you want to be doing. This is what you ‘had to do’ to activate your career and can be seen as the time you use to build on some key skills and ablities.
Have to do – is that realization that ‘the had to do’ has passed and you are now wondering what you ‘have to do’ to move forward and perhaps start thinking about what your next steps are. This is where you begin to question the significance of what you are doing currently and is it time to move forward and start considering a new journey or phase? In this phase, I find this is where realization sets in and there is suddenly a need and urgency to try for something else. Something that is more tailored to you. The conversations usually revolve around how the person has worked in this area and they are in need of a change.
Want to do – after you have taken the time to ask yourself what you ‘have to do’, you begin to reflect and consider what you ‘want to do’ and the realization of what you are meant to be doing. This is where you find flow and it is what you suddenly realize as your purpose. If not activated upon, you will sit in the ‘have to do’ phase and not move on. This can be a very difficult phase because it is only through great personal self-reflection that you really appreciate and understand what you ‘want to do’. If not acted upon, you will be stuck in the ‘had to do’ or ‘have to do phase’ and before you know it, many years have passed and you are looking back at what you ‘wanted to do’ but never got the chance or nerve to try it.

An example of this in action is through my own personal experiences over the years. When I was in university and about to graduate, I was trying to figure out my path and journey and I thought I knew what I was meant to do. My thought was, “Who is lucky to get me.” But then my realization became, “Am I even lucky enough to get a job!”. As a result, I finally got my job and it was a janitor mopping floors in a hospital. It is what I ‘had to do’ at that point to get my first job. Over time, and switching companies and positions, I was in a position that was more suited but still not what I wanted to be doing. I was at the ‘have to do’ phase, where I had some reflection on what I ‘wanted to do’ and then what I needed to do to accomplish what I ‘wanted to do’. Over time, I could see the transitions from one area to another. Finally, I was able to move from the ‘have to do’ to the ‘want to do’ and I can share that being in the ‘want to do’ area is where you don’t have a job or career but rather fulfillment. It is where you are meant to be.

Now realize that the transition between each of those areas is not easy. There will be a lot of noise telling you that you are in a good place, you are going to risk everything to move to something that you are not sure about or if you can even make any money in what you want to do. Rather than letting the noise take over, it is about finding those champions and enablers. Those individuals who will ask you the right questions and help you realize the transition so you are able to reach your ‘want to do’. If you think about it, if you don’t at least try to reach your opportunities, you are not living your dream and you are telling others that you are OK living their dreams for you. It is your opportunity that awaits you and you must work towards it.

If you feel you need support, please reach out to me at and we can take the time to transition from the ‘had to do’, and ‘have to do’ so you can realize what you ‘want to do’!

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