I was able to stop shoulding all over myself a few weeks back. I feel good on a daily basis again. I’m excited and eager to get up when I wake up in the morning (my personal measurement of happiness). And guess what: Feeling good helps me show up as the high version of myself that I need to be to do my writing, work on my business and coach people effectively. I’m getting a lot more done these days. And I’m an estimated 27384,92% happier than when I was should-addicted.
How was I able to kick the shoulds and expectations? Well, my friend, while I was getting off the should train, I somewhat accidentally developed a process to figure out which shoulds made sense and and which ones deserved to be kicked out of my life. I eloquently call it the “Do I Really Need to Do This?” Decision Matrix.
So whenever you catch yourself saying “I should” or “I need to”, feel free to pause and go through these steps (adjust as needed. Don’t feel like this is the only way it should be done :)
How to deal with the shoulds in your life
1. Is this your should? Do you really believe that you need to do this or was this something that you feel you should do to please loved ones or fulfill expectations? Ask yourself: Who’s voice is this? Your daddy’s? Your best friend’s? Is it the girl who bullied you in 7th grade? If it’s not yours truly, check to see if this applies to your life now. Which leads us to the next step:
2. Make it more sexy. To get 100% sure whether or not you really need to do something, replace the word should with want or something similar that expresses a desire: “I want to get a degree in business.”, “I would love to work harder”, “I want to read that bestselling book”. Got it? Now the big question is:
3. What’s your belly saying? How does it feel to say you actually want to do this thing? Does it feel true to you? If your intuition doesn’t get along well with this want/should it might be a good idea to drop the should right now. Hot potato style. Really, this is the critical deciding factor. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, I highly recommend you don’t do it. This has become one of the guiding principles for me and I can see each day how big of a difference it makes in my life (more on that in a later post).
If you’re belly is saying “yes” to whatever it is you want to do, awesome. There’s only one more thing we wanna do before we greenlight it:
4. Now or never. Do you really want to do this right now? Or does it just feel urgent because you decided that you should have achieved financial independence/the toned butt/the book deal by now? Be careful with self-proclaimed deadlines and expectations. Oftentimes they stress us out way more than they help us focus and get things done. If you’re belly said yes to your want and you decide that now is a good time to go after it, congratulations. You have just made an important decision to commit yourself to doing it (if committing to it doesn’t feel right, well, dump it).
The “Do I Really Need to Do this?” decision matrix
Phew. Nice little process, eh? I wanted to make sure that it’s easy to understand it, so I got a little creative and created a simple graphic for you. Enjoy :)
Ain’t it super pretty? :)
How my new relationship to should has changed my life
I’ve got into the habit of inspecting every should that comes my way using this process. This has lead to me taking on a whole lot less stuff, which freed up a lot of my time (I even quit a side job of mine, because I realized it was out of alignment with what I truly want to do). I was able to let go of a lot of my own crazy expectations about what I should have accomplished by now. I also care less about what other people think I should be doing. I can tell you, treating shoulds this way has kicked up my happiness level a few notches, if not many.
If you’re feeling off track right now, or if your to-do list is killing you, I’d love for you to have a look at all the shoulds in your life. You can use the above matrix if you’re feeling it.
Let us know how it goes in the comments below. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on shoulds and other people’s expectations. Any experiences you want to share?