The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Want and must

From a coaching perspective, I’ll often enquire what the person means when he uses “must”. That’s because people can find themselves under an obligation to do what they do. They may not know why they do what they do or have no stake of their own in doing what they feel they must do.

At the same time, wanting to do something can also be a distraction from the project the person committed himself to. There may not be any harm in this, that is, as long as it doesn’t lead to procrastination or in other ways far away from their project.

When it comes to the tasks or long-term projects people dedicate themselves to, it helps to remember that they are there because the person chose to engage in them.

When they step into the journey of achieving that task or project, they’ll, however, encounter a lot of things that have to be done. They may not be pleasant, can be challenging, as well something they love once it’s done, or things that gives them energy. As long as they contribute to achieving what one has set out to do, they have to be done. The choices there may relate to finding other solutions to get them done or asking others to take charge of them. Naturally, such choices will not always be available.

When it comes to a person’s well-being, the approach can be entirely different. There, the priority can be on the “want”, including the choice of short or long-term projects that may end up with a lot of “must-do”. It is a want that is there to care for the person’s wellbeing, that accounts for what it is that needs to be done in the moment. It is a want that serves the person in keeping their health and an energy level that empowers them.

It pays to remember that, that too may involve some “must-do” activities, especially when the energy level fell too far and stress starts to appear. Sadly, that is often a moment in time, when it becomes difficult to keep thoughts and feelings organized, and thus make decisions that contribute to one’s wellbeing and sense of success.

In such moments the desire of getting rid of the problem may overwhelm the person. If it does, it may also result in doing the tasks at hand as they are there and without a clear sense of what they are for.

That’s where asking about the must and want a person expresses helps to reconnect with the purpose of what one does or to find it.


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