Doing the Needful

Doing the NeedfulWhen I was learning Spanish in high school, a phrase that caught my ear and has remained a favorite of mine is “lo necesario.” It roughly means “the necessary thing” or “that which is required.” I always liked how the phrase put a stamp of finality on a certain set of activities. It wasn’t just the stuff that you had to get done; it was lo necesario.

Years later, I was in India for work collaborating with local colleagues on a program to help people with diabetes. As we talked through clinical requirements and the current state of patient care, I noticed that my Indian colleagues made liberal use of the phrase “doing the needful.” It instantly reminded me of lo necesario in its definitive shorthand.

When I have something that I need to do but don’t want to (whether it’s an expense report, cleaning the litter box, or having a difficult conversation), I find myself thinking that it’s time to do the needful. Being able to assign a phrase to the task somehow helps me steel myself to get through. For me, it’s an example of how language helps shape my experience.

Do you ever “do the needful” or “hace lo necesario”? Does it help make tough tasks go by more easily?