As I work with people, one recommendation I’ve seen pay dividends regardless of job title is to stay curious. Whether you’re a CEO or janitor, in operations or sales, following this axiom will keep you growing and connecting — both with your work and with the people around you.

At Rewire, one thing we stay curious about is motivation and the human brain. And whether we’re talking about motivation theories or Barry Schwatz’s Paradox of Choice, the recurring theme is that freedom of choice is crucial. The brain seems to be more inclined to rewire (commonly referred to as “neuroplasticity”) and take action when it is freed to do so as opposed to when it is forced to do so.

Here’s one application of that theme of freedom:

Let’s say, for grins and giggles, you awaken every day and before becoming fully conscious you begin to think about all of the things you HAVE to do today. In fact, you find yourself thinking that you “have to” do this and you “have to” do that… follow up on e-mail, make a call, and of course, go work out. In more common vernacular, we say to ourselves “I gotta do it.” And thus, before our feet have even hit the floor, we’ve already blocked ourselves off from motivation that would help us take action on the items we’ve been thinking about.

Or, let’s imagine for a minute that I were to come into your bedroom every morning and serve as your alarm clock by announcing that you “gotta” go work out. Without any proof of science, we both know that you would resist this “command” from me (in addition to kicking me out of your bedroom and investing in new locks for your house). What’s more, my “gotta” would likely become a reason for you not to work out – if for no other reason than to spite me (the rude intruder).

But here’s the insidious part of all this: When we use language like “got to,” we become our own internal rude intruder. Yes, this is language programming and you can do your own research on NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), or you can begin an experiment by catching yourself saying “got to” and change to “get to.” Try it:

  • I get to work out today.
  • I get to go to my job.
  • I get to make that call.
  • I get to ____________.

Changing your “got to” to “get to” may not be easy but it will make a substantial difference in what you actually accomplish. Freedom works at so many levels, and now we know it works at the thinking/cognition level, too. This is an amazing way to rewire.

Feel free to share your “get to’s” in the comment section.