The best thing you can do for yourself at a crossroads in your life is to get rid of all your SHOULDs. If you get rid of the SHOULDs – and the guilt and the comparison – it can help catapult you into a happier, more satisfied life. Or so I’ve discovered.
What is a SHOULD? It’s any time you or anyone else says you SHOULD do, be, or think something. When you put a SHOULD on something, it becomes an obligation, a chore. It becomes something that is not your own. It becomes harder. It becomes something you must work toward. It makes life painful. It causes anxiety, stress, worry and strife.
Your life has likely been full of SHOULDs and you don’t even know it. You SHOULD join that organization. You SHOULD put 25% of your paycheck into savings. You SHOULD be a swimmer. You SHOULD get straight A’s. You SHOULD get 8 hours of sleep and drink 8 glasses of water a day. You SHOULD go to that happy hour. You SHOULD lose weight. You SHOULD work on Sunday to catch up for the week ahead. You SHOULD get that promotion if he did.
SHOULDs imposed by yourself, your parents, your significant other, your friends, your teachers, your boss, society – the list goes on. But the thing is, all of these SHOULDs pull you in so many directions that you soon lose sight of what you want and what you need. And it puts an unnecessary obligation to what you can do. Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
SHOULDs have driven the majority of my life decisions – I come from a family of should-ers. But lately, I’ve come to realize that these SHOULDs have been and still are preventing me from contentment, success and are inhibiting my self-esteem, my ability to move forward and become the person I want to be.
[Note: I flip flopped this & the below paragraph]. As life goes on, it’s easy to get caught up in the SHOULDs. Personally, I stayed in a dead-end job too long because I thought I should. I got married before I was ready because I thought I should. I stressed myself out and lost sight of myself because of all the things I thought I should do.
My best decisions have not stemmed from SHOULDs – in fact, they’ve mostly stemmed from shouldn’ts. I probably SHOULD have gone to college in-state (Illinois) because of my scholarships and everyone else was doing it, but instead, I went to University of Missouri. And I probably SHOULD have studied economics or engineering, but I chose to study advertising. These decisions led me to be successful at school, boost my self-confidence, gave me opportunities to lead, meet the love of my life, get career connections, appreciate my family and make the best friends of my life.
Primarily, and most recently, I should NOT have moved to Austin. I was about to be given a great opportunity at work – at a company I had been with for almost 6 years, I was stuck in my lease in Chicago for another 5 months. I didn’t know anyone there. The move meant I was going to start over, almost completely at the age of 31. But for me, I knew I had to move away from my family, friends, my regular routine, my over-commitments, my busy schedule, my company and my comfort zone to start questioning and ignoring the SHOULDs.
For me, moving somewhere where I knew no one and wasn’t over-committed allowed me time to think. About what I SHOULD do. And then what I WANT to do.
That’s when my SHOULDs started melting away. And I started really focusing on me.
And I started to become liberated. And be less negative and stressed all the time. And feel better about myself. And started to figure out what I WANT my life to be.
So, I implore you. Think about your life. Do you operate on SHOULDs? If so, what can you do to get away from that lifestyle? Trust me, you’ll thank yourself some day.