You can change an obligation to a choice. Any event in life can become tiresome or a burden if you do not think clearly.
Consider an athlete in training or a mother cleaning up after the kids. Or think about a family who gives up an exciting vacation to care for a dying grandmother. Maybe for you, it is about just going to work or school?
In any of those situations, you may feel obligated, which makes life miserable for you and anyone around you. But your life will be vastly different if you understand freedom and the Primary and Secondary Choices principle.
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. - 2 Corinthians 9:5
Obligations Are Real
Since obligations are real, there are things that you “have to” do. Then how do you live in freedom? Well, the answer requires understanding your hierarchy of values or wants.
Of course, some things in your life are more important than others. Those things become crucial to you because of your values and what you want. So, you will either choose your values or ignore them.
That is where you rely on the principle of Primary and Secondary Choices taught by Robert Fritz.
Primary and Secondary Choices
So what is a primary choice? It is a value you want to develop, an outcome you want to achieve, or a vision you want to realize. We refer to that as your "THERE."
On the other hand, a secondary choice is what you do to reach your primary choice. So that you know, your secondary choices are only sometimes wanted in and of themselves.
Once you create "THERE," it is best that you assess your current reality. That means where you are today in relation to where you want to be - THERE. Most likely, you are still striving to reach your THERE, so your "HERE" is possibly some distance away from THERE.
When you focus on THERE, your primary choice, it creates energy to take action to move from HERE to THERE. That only happens when you want THERE more than to remain HERE. (Download the Personal Plan Form to see how you can use THERE, HERE, and PATH.)
Okay, you would like to be there, but you are here. Your primary choice is where you want to be (THERE); your current reality (HERE) is where you are. Finally, we arrive at the secondary choices. Those are the steps or actions you take, the PATH, to get THERE.
An easy example of primary and secondary choices is an Olympic athlete. If you are an Olympic athlete, what is your primary choice? You are correct; it is the Gold Medal. You would train and focus your life on getting the Gold Medal which is your THERE. But all your training is a secondary choice to help you reach your primary choice. So, training is the PATH, the secondary choices you make to arrive at THERE. Those secondary choices help you move from HERE to THERE.
How Can You Use This?
So how does this apply to obligation and freedom? If you had a sense of obligation to achieve the Gold Medal, would you have more or less energy to do what is needed to get it? Most people would tire under the burden of "having to" get the Gold Medal versus "wanting to" get the Gold Medal.
Would you agree? If you, the athlete, were only focused on training without thinking about THERE (the Gold Medal), the daily regimen would become a burden - "Why am I doing this?" But remembering the "why" or your THERE gives you purpose for the tiring training routine.
The same is true for your life. You have more energy when you focus on the primary choice versus your secondary choices needed to get to the primary choice. That is the power of the Primary and Secondary Choices principle and the THERE, HERE, and PATH structure.
So, when you engage in secondary choices, it is easy to lose sight of why you are doing them. That is the time to remind yourself of the primary choice. “I may not enjoy this training, but I want to enjoy the Gold Medal!”
An everyday example is parents seldom want to clean up their kid’s sick messes at 3 a.m., but they choose to do it because they love (want the best for) their kids. And, of course, a family might prefer an exciting vacation rather than being with someone before they die. But they choose the latter because they value family more than entertainment.
Primary choices require secondary choices that you may not prefer or like.
Remove Obligation and Add Energy to Your Life
Now make this practical for your life. What do you want to achieve? What is your THERE? When you focus on your primary choice, it will add energy to your life.
Ultimately the highest, most joyful, most energizing primary choice for doing anything is to please and glorify God. With His strength, you have the energy to make good secondary choices that ultimately glorify God.
Do you love people because you have to or because you want to? Big difference, right?
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships