turning your “have tos” into “want tos”

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, Don’t Turn Your Want Tos into Have Tos, I would like to present a related concept; how I’m learning to turn my Have Tos into Want Tos. There is no denying that I have plenty of autonomy when it comes to my career, but even self-employment has it’s drudgery. The task that I find the most difficult to coax myself into is entering expenses into Quickbooks. Sure, I’m great at tracking revenue. After all, that’s how I know how much money Jess LC is earning. But since I submit my books to my accountant for taxes just once a year, tracking expenses tends to be the last thing on my to-do list.

However, if I am better at tracking my expenses throughout the year I will have a much better handle on our profit-margin and genuine company health. I will be more informed and will be able to make better business decisions.

I just need to take the time to sit down with Quickbooks one hour a month. That’s all it takes.

But with MML, processing orders, marketing, managing staff, and a life outside of Jess LC, there are plenty of monthly reasons excuses as to why I can’t complete the dang expense report. But the truth is, that I can make the time.

I just don’t really Want To.

So a few weeks ago I took a long hard look at the facts: bookkeeping is a Have To for any small business. But I certainly don’t Want To do it. Ever. I could have interns enter the expenses. But I’d rather keep finances within my control. I could also hire a bookkeeper to do them once a month instead for about $40 an hour. But that’s an unnecessary expense since I can do them myself.

At that point I had a great idea.

I can do the bookkeeping each month and “pay” myself $40 (the opportunity cost of having a bookkeeper do it for me) and then go shopping with the cash I would have paid someone else. I would thereby turn my Have To into a Want To. Because, let’s face it, $40 of fun money can mean a cute top, nice candle (or two), or some awesome makeup. That equates to $480 worth of spending money over the course of a year.*

Another option to consider is saving $40 in a bank account and watch the money I would have spent accumulate instead. (But to be honest, I’m more enticed by the spending option myself. Shopping with $40 definitely ups my Want To quotient.)

Either way you look at it, I no longer see my bookkeeping as a dreaded Have To. I now see it as a way to earn some fun money to go shopping – which I would do regardless – the bookkeeping is now simply an awesome bonus.

Though bookkeeping is a specific personal example, there are many other unappealing things we all Have To do. By taking some time to really reconsider the tasks, we might be able to redefine our motivation or perspective – it just requires an open mind and some creativity.

* I just realized that I could use the lump sum of $480 to buy a Tory Burch bag – which is one of my intentional obsessions for 2011. Awesome.

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  1. I absolutely love this post. It all comes down to choosing our own happiness, right? If we can’t change the things around us, change the way we look at them. Someone major said that.

  2. I absolutely love this idea–I’ve been spending the morning doing easy tasks instead of the big ones I should really be tackling first. While I’m still accomplishing stuff, I love this idea of re-framing your “have-tos” in a positive way.

    When I was in grad school & in the thick of writing my master’s thesis, I put a sign up on my windowsill (directly in front of my computer), and it simply read:

    “It’s an opportunity, not an obligation”

    It was a small mantra that I came up with to remind me that EVERYTHING you do–whether you love it or loathe it–is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, grow, etc. It’s right in line with turning “have tos” to “want tos” and might be a good tool for people who need a little saying to keep them mindful.

    I think I it’s time I repost it on the wall in front of my office desk 😉

  3. Lisa

    I love this idea! I always procrastinate on the things I don’t want to do but had never thought of creating a reward so I’d WANT to do them.

  4. Alicia

    This is great – inputting expenses to Quickbooks is my most procrastinated task as well. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

  5. I love your writting style 🙂

    There are so many have tos in a small business’s life (that were want tos before)…I will practice your tip!

    It is funny, but bookkeeping is fine for me: I have a huge excel table and I enter every single expense I have on that day when I spend it, so it only takes a moment. I do the same with the incomes. I also categorize my expenses/incomes so at the end of the year I know the percantage of how my I spend on marketing, stationery, raw materials etc etc. The funny thing is, that I like to do the categorizing thingie 🙂

    I would like to order a post from you. Nowadays my biggest challenge is that how to turn my mind off from my business, and I hardly let myself to deal with something else, like reading, going to theatre etc etc., because I always see something to do with my business. So my question is, that how do you manage your mind regarding this?

    Thanks in advance!!

  6. @ Vadjutka,

    Thanks for the “request post!” I like that, this way I know exactly what to share :).

    I will try to address this next week or the following week.

    Have a great day,

  7. Marianne

    THANK YOU, MS. JESS!! Too often (ok, all the time), I forget to play these “mind games” with myself..like, to reframe something seemingly negative to find the positive in it…. But I have now made your have-tos/want-tos image my new desktop wallpaper! – a great, stark reminder I can’t ignore or “forget” 🙂

    Also, I think this is my first time commenting, tho I’ve been following for a few months now… so I wanna thank you so much in general for sharing such gracious inspiration thru your wonderful blog.
    And in particular, your post on the Worry Flashcards is most appreciated.

    Thanks Jess and MML for all y’all do and Happy New Year!!

    Way to represent the Chi! 😀

  8. Marianne

    oh and p.p.s.

    To Krista from an earlier comment:
    Great reminder-mantra! Thanks for sharing!!

  9. Kelly

    What great advice!! I seriously look forward to reading all of your posts because you have such a fresh and positive perspective. This post brought up excellent points and solutions…and I definitely need it this week! Thank you very much : )

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