Think about all of the things you "have to" do today. Now imagine that your doctor just diagnosed you with six months to live. Suddenly, most of those things on the "have to" list seem pretty trivial. Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed by your job, or stressed out by your ridiculously long to-do list, take a moment to step back from it all and appreciate your life.

In short, replace the phrase, "I have to" with "I get to." It's a small shift in phraseology, but it makes all the difference in your approach and your attitude. You see, there are millions of people in this world who would change places with you in a heartbeat. We tend to forget that fact when we are surrounded by successful people all vying to get ahead. As entrepreneurs, we often get so swept up in the daily stress of our lives that we tend to forget just how amazing a life we have built for ourselves.

Think you have problems?

One of my favorite lyrics from Pitbull's "Time of Our Lives" is:

"This for anybody going through tough times
Believe me, been there, done that
But every day above ground is a great day, remember that."

The problem is, we easily forget this fact. Our time on this earth is short and we need to do the absolute best we can while we're here. So when you find yourself grumbling about the work you're doing or the circumstances in which you find yourself doing it, take a minute to put your challenges into perspective.

Need to "snap out of it?" Visit St. Jude's.

I don't know if you've ever had the misfortune to be in a children's cancer ward. My first cousin was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Aplastic Anemia. My uncle wrote a book about it called Bloodlines. At the time, my cousin was only 6 years old. It wasn't just my cousin who had a lasting imprint on my life, but it was the entire wing of the hospital she was staying in that opened my eyes to just how many children were sick and dying of cancer.

Fortunately for my cousin, she found a bone marrow donor and made a full recovery. She will graduate from high school this year, and that incredibly painful part of her life is finally behind her now--at least to hear her tell it. I seriously doubt you can get that close to death and somehow "leave it all behind" you. But my point is simply that these kids and their parents have real problems. As entrepreneurs, the vast majority of our "problems" are not really problems at all; at least not when you place them in their proper perspective.

Spend one afternoon at St. Jude's or your local children's cancer center, and your life will come into a clearer focus than you've ever experienced before.

Ending on a positive note...

Let me apologize here if I've brought you down, as this was not my intention. Rather, I wanted to illustrate the important point I'm making: We must work hard to replace "I have to" with "I get to." You don't "have to" go to the office supply store, you "get to" go and purchase all that your business needs to grow and thrive. You don't "have to" stay late at the office to complete your assignment, you "get to" use your brain in creative ways that allow you to shine bright within your industry.

You see, it's all a matter of how you see it. When you shift the words you use, you change your entire perspective, and therefore your approach, around what you are looking to accomplish today. "Our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits become our destiny," says Aristotle. For more on this topic, check out my related article on The Lifeline: 8 Proven Steps to Staying Powerful and Accountable in Everything You Do. And remember, you don't "have to" read this next article, you "get to" read it. ;-)

Published on: Apr 20, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.