Today I want to talk about the “should"’s. All those things in your life that you (or other people) feel like you should be doing, and yet…they just tend to live forever at the end of your to-do list.
“I should be online dating."
“I should update my website.”
“I should lose X pounds."
“I should ask my boss for a promotion."
You get the picture. The “should” possibilities are endless…and usually, people have a whole arsenal of them. Whenever I’m coaching someone, I always listen closely for “I should…” statements. And I pause whenever I hear a “should” come out of my own mouth too.
Why? Because underneath your "should" is a gold mine of information. Maybe it’s a long-held desire, a heartfelt dream that still feels intimidating — one that you don't feel “ready” to tackle. But maybe it’s not. It could be a judgment about how you’re not currently doing “enough," or a step towards someone else’s vision for you (that is well-intentioned, but isn't necessarily aligned with what you want).
How do you tell the difference? Begin by identifying the voice in your head. Whose “should” is this, really? Is this advice someone else gave you, or a self-generated idea? Who planted the seed?
I ask because our friends, family members, coworkers, and everyone else in our lives usually want the best for us. They want us to thrive. And they typically have their own set of beliefs about how to do so. The problem is that they are not US. And how could they be? Only you hold the key to your innermost thoughts, hopes, and visions. Only you really know what feels fun, manageable, energizing, and authentic in your life.
Other people also tend to unintentionally project all of their fears, worries, and limiting beliefs onto you. They worry FOR you. This is often innocent enough and generally comes from a place of love and concern, yet it can hinder your growth.
It can feel really overwhelming if you constantly internalize other people’s advice on what you should be doing. It's critical that you learn how to attune to your own inner guidance, take only the advice that resonates, and leave the rest behind. Otherwise, suggested to-do's can add up and make you feel like you’re failing, not doing enough, or (worse) that YOU are not enough. And that, my friends, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now, even if you’ve identified your “should” as one that you self-created, it’s important to get to the root cause and figure out if it’s something that truly aligns with your vision. Are you interested in doing this task because you know deep down it’s life-affirming and moving you towards what you want? Or because it’s what everyone else in your field/industry/friend or age group is doing and you think it’s what you are “supposed” to do? Is FOMO behind the wheel? A need to please others? A desire to fit in? Pay attention to the driving force behind your "should." It could be directly linked to some unresolved pain. And even if you didn’t get this idea or advice from a particular person, our society has a plethora of prevailing beliefs about what your life should look like, and it’s easy to unconsciously buy into those too. If you sense that any of these are the case, I invite you to just let your “should" go. Right here and right now — if it is not going to enhance your life on your terms — release it.
I get it if the “should”s on your to-do list feel like too much. You’re human, and some (if not most) of these tasks probably aren’t things you want for yourself anyways. Take some time to identify all of your "should" to-do's, and dismiss any that are not YOURS. And the ones that feel meaningful to you? Move right along with those golden nuggets! I believe in you, and I invite you to connect with your why, then take one small step towards something you genuinely want today. Take action and see what happens. Feel free to let me know how it goes. And if you want more support, I am always here for you.