7 Words That Reveal Your Level of Inspiration

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 3 weeks ago

If you’re living a life of quiet desperation instead of one of inspiration, then Dr Demartini can show you how to do what you love and wake up in the morning inspired by your day ahead.


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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 3 weeks ago

Henry David Thoreau talked about living a quiet life of desperation, whilst Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about living a life of inspiration. In other words, you have a choice at any time on how you live, based on how you perceive your outer world, and what you decide and how you act.

I have identified seven key phrases that describe seven levels or stages or degrees of inspiration in your life – levels that vary from where you feel like you’re in control of your life to where you feel that the world on the outside controls you – where you are living by design or duty.

If you listen to your own language or inner and outer dialogue, you’ll discover that it’s revealing a lot about your level of inspiration by the words that you choose.

The First or Lowest Level: Have To, Got To, Must

At the bottom level, you’re likely to be living by duty and feeling as if an external force is dictating, governing, or controlling your life. As such, you’ll tend to feel obligated and hear yourself using language such as, ‘I HAVE to do this, I’ve GOT to do this, I MUST do this.’ This is important feedback to let you know that whatever it is that you feel obligated to do is not congruent with your highest values.

Instead, it’s likely to be an injected value from a boss, spouse, preacher, or teacher – some authority outside yourself that you’ve inculcated into your life. These words and phrases indicate internal resistance and that you’re not inspired doing such an action. When you perceive that you HAVE to do it, it may feel as if you have a brake on and that you’re resisting what you’re doing.

Consider it this way. You are unlikely to say, ‘I’ve GOT to, I HAVE to, I MUST,’ when doing something that you’re inspired by. Instead, you’ll tend to use phrases such as, ‘I love doing it and I’m inspired by doing it.’

So, that’s the lowest layer – the ‘I have to, I’ve got to, I must’ layer. When you hear that, it’s wise to be mindful that there is some underlying resistance either in yourself or in others. If you hear this language in business, it will likely be from employees who are disengaged and who don’t want to be either at work or doing their particular job duties.

The Second Level: Should, Ought To, Supposed To

The second level comprises words such as ‘I SHOULD, I OUGHT to, I’m SUPPOSED to.’ For example, when you tell yourself, ‘I really ought to be doing this. I really should be doing this. I really am supposed to be doing this.’ Once again, you’ve likely agreed to tasks you may feel you ought to pursue due to external pressures.

It’s wise to note that you don’t naturally tend to “should” yourself. These “shoulds” most likely stem from what Freud termed the superego – a set of values you’ve injected from external authorities starting with your mother. These could be from earlier in your life or currently from people like your boss or someone you look up to, depend on, or give power and authority to. You might think, ‘I should be going to the gym and working out like them. I ought to be working out like them. I got to start working out like them.’ But again, this is valuable feedback to let you know that you are injecting the values of some outside authority.


Here’s what you may not know. When you look up to someone and place them on a pedestal – you tend to inject their values into your own life and minimize your own set of values as a result. That’s why, when you’re involved in activities that don’t align with your values, you’ll tend to say ‘I really ought to be doing this. I really should be doing this. I really am supposed to do this,’. Your words indicate that you’re self-deprecating, beating yourself up and not feeling fulfilled. So when you say you should be doing it, it’s feedback that what you’re doing isn’t congruent with your highest values; otherwise, you wouldn’t tend to speak to yourself this way.

For instance, when someone says, ‘I really should be exercising,’ it means ‘I’m not really focused on exercise, but I assume I should according to what I’ve read or what the individual or authority I’m comparing myself to is doing.

To sum up so far: ‘got to, have to, and must,’ is the lowest level of inspiration where you are likely living by duty and obligation. ‘Should, ought to, supposed to,’ is the second lowest level of inspiration.

The Third Level: Need To

The next level is ‘need to – ‘I need to do this’ or ‘I need to do that’. Here, external influences still play a role, but you’re probably less resistant to them. In other words, the brakes aren’t applied as firmly, but you’re still not necessarily inspired by or fully engaged in the task. Although you may understand how completing it is somewhat congruent with your highest values, it lacks the internal direction and intrinsic drive that you will experience in higher levels of inspiration.

You see, whenever you encounter phrases like ‘got to, have to, must, should, ought to, supposed to, need to,’ it’s all outer directed. When someone tells me, “Well, I should be doing this,” my immediate question is, according to who?  Similarly, when someone says, “But I have to, got to or need to do this,” my question remains the same: according to who?

The challenge lies in identifying your own unique highest values and aligning your life and priorities with those values. In other words, that your voice and vision on the inside become louder than the voices on the outside. As such, you will be less likely to try and inject the values of others thereby clouding the clarity of your own highest values.

For example, imagine a scenario where someone’s highest value and priority is family, while another prioritizes business. If the family-oriented individual suggests, ‘Well, you should be with your kids more,’ it can create a conflict. It is wiser to live congruently with your own highest values so you are less likely to say that you ‘need to’ do something.

The Fourth Level: Want To

The fourth level – the ‘want to’ level – is when you tend to start actively participating in a task or activity.  There’s a shift because you’re likely to recognize some value in the activity and you are driven a bit more intrinsically instead of just extrinsically. As such, you’ll tend to be guided to take action from within and will thus feel more inspiration and less resistance.

While ‘want to’ represents progress along the scale, it essentially serves as a breakeven point that marks a shift to intrinsic drive with your levels of inspiration growing stronger. You may find that you genuinely start to desire it or feel inspired by it. It may be something you like to do that flows more effortlessly than before when the brakes were on.  And, instead of pushing against the system; you’re shaping it partly according to your intentions.


The Fifth Level: Desire To

As you ascend to the fifth level, this is when the decision to act becomes more of a conscious choice – you’re deciding to do it. So, it’s no longer something external but something internal.

With this shift, your drive and inspiration go up, and you begin to desire to take the action. It’s something you genuinely have a desire to do, and it tends to flow more effortlessly because instead of battling against external forces; instead, you’re actively shaping your path.

I often emphasize that if you’re not living by design, you’ll find yourself living by duty. If you are not filling your day with high-priority actions that ignite inspiration, they’ll inevitably become filled with low-priority distractions. These distractions often manifest as the ‘got tos’, ‘have tos’, ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’, ‘ought tos’, ‘supposed tos’, ‘need tos’ – all below the ‘want to’ level. However, at the ‘desire to’ level, a spark of inspiration emerges, and you’ll likely experience a desire to engage.

The Sixth level: Choose To

When you move up a level, to the sixth or ‘choose to’ level, this is when you are consciously choosing and deciding to do something. You likely perceive that there’s more advantage than disadvantage to what you’re doing and, as such, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in your mind.

In other words, you’re doing it because you genuinely look forward to it. When I hear people say, ‘I choose to do this every day, this is what I love doing,’ I know they are likely moving towards an inspirational life.

I have also observed that at the ‘want to’, ‘desire to’, and ‘choose to’ levels, you’re partly and progressively more engaged, as opposed to the lower levels 1 – 3 when you are more likely to be disengaged. You may also notice a difference in productivity on a business level because people tend to eagerly anticipate services when providers are engaged.

The Seventh Level: Love To

The level above ‘choose to’ is ‘love to’. This isn’t about romantic love, but rather a willingness to embrace the pains and pleasures in the pursuit of reaching your goals. In other words, it’s so inspiring that you can’t wait to get up each morning and do it, because you love doing it so much.

In my case, its researching, writing, and teaching – my favorite things to do. In fact, I can do them all day and do indeed do them all day because they’re inspiring for me, the question is, are YOU filling your days with the actions that you love or are you filling them with things you ‘got to’ do? If you’re filling them with the former, you’re most likely engaged and fulfilled; if with the latter, you’re most likely disengaged and unfulfilled.

That’s why I emphasize to people, especially in my signature program, the Breakthrough Experience, the wisdom of going through the complimentary Value Determination Process on my website.


Once you identify your unique hierarchy of values, you’ll see and understand how your hierarchy of values dictates your destiny. Your set of values determine how you perceive, decide, and act. So, whenever you fill your day with high priority actions that are congruent with your highest values and that truly inspire and engage you, your feelings of freedom increase. Why? Because you’re not burdened by duties, obligations and imposed responsibilities that feel like a weight; instead, you’re more likely fueled by inspiration.

If you then delegate lower-priority tasks to those who would love to do them and surround yourself with people who would love to fulfil those tasks, they’re inspired and you’re inspired and the business will tend to grow in productivity and financial gain as a result.

Unfortunately, many people find themselves trapped in feelings of obligation, living in a cycle of ‘got tos’, ‘have tos’, ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’, ‘ought tos’, ‘supposed tos’, and sometimes ‘want tos’.

Few truly give themselves permission to make conscious decisions to live congruently with their highest values and priorities. That’s why practices like pre-planning, strategic goal setting, and foresight are invaluable. In my 2-day seminar titled the Breakthrough Experience, we dedicate significant time to these topics, understanding that living by design instead of only duty leads to a more fulfilling life.

Living by design means prioritizing high-value actions that inspire you and living them. When you consistently tackle these priorities, you tend to feel more resilient, adaptable, and fulfilled. Conversely, if you let your day become filled with low priority distractions when you are ‘putting out fires’ and reacting to the day as it unfolds, you may find yourself reacting emotionally reactive and becoming frustrated. These frustrations serve as valuable feedback to help you return to your authentic self which is a reflection of your highest values.

During the Breakthrough Experience, when participants go through the Value Determination process to help them clarify what’s truly important to them and not what they perceive ‘should’ be important to them, many are surprised to discover that they’ve internalized and injected the values of others. It’s why many people fit in instead of standing out, because they are too busy letting the voice on the outside run their life instead of the voice and vision of the inside. I am certain that you were not born to fit in but instead to live an extraordinary and inspiring life.

To Sum Up:

I often refer to Warren Buffett’s advice to “do what you love and love what you do.” Over the years, I have watched many individuals who excel in their fields and have noticed a common thread: they love what they do, are inspired by it, and delegate lower-priority tasks to others who find fulfillment in them. This not only benefits them as individuals but also expands job opportunities and drives socioeconomic growth.

Your personal journey from ‘got to, have to, and must’ to ‘I love it’ reflects your progress towards mastering your life and mastering your destiny.

If you would love to take this topic further then join me at the Breakthrough Experience seminar, where I provide tools and insights to help you prioritize your life, dissolve external influences, and design a life that is congruent and aligned with your unique hierarchy of highest values.

Your language reveals whether you’re operating from a place of disengagement or enjoyment, and extrinsic motivation or intrinsic drive. If you’re feeling trapped in a quiet life of desperation, constantly driven by ‘got tos’ and ‘have tos’, it’s valuable feedback to let you know that an extraordinary life is within your grasp if you are wise enough to pursue it.


Are you ready for the NEXT STEP?

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You’ll come away with a 3-step action plan and the foundation to empower your life.


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