“Should” is the enemy of great


One of the biggest battles of your 20s, I think, is letting go of all of the things you “should” do and choosing instead to spend your time doing things you want to do. For me, the story of my mid-twenties has been learning to embrace who I am and what I value, rather than doing things just because they fit into my idea of what I should value in my twenties.

Here’s an example: it’s Friday night and I’ve just gotten done with my workout. Literally the only thing I want to do is get home, put on PJs, down my post-workout shake, and eat my post-workout fun carbs while lounging on the couch with Paul and the puppy. The very last thing I want to do is get dressed up, put on make-up, and go out with people. A lot of times, though, I get sucked in to feeling like I should be out — it’s not even FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s FOALIMO: Fear of Appearing Like I’m Missing Out.

I actually had this conversation recently with my coach, Sean, and my life coach, Kali. Sean encouraged me to let go of the shoulds by identifying my values and letting go of feeling like I should do things that don’t align with those values. Here’s my four biggest takeaways:

Think about the other actions you use the word “should” for. I should do my taxes. I should pay my parking tickets. I should clean my house. All of these things that we use “should” for are things that we really don’t want to do but need to do to be responsible adult human beings. They’re things that have consequences if we don’t do them. So, if you’re using the word “should” for actions that are fun for others – going out, working out intensely, or even writing, then you run the risk of attaching guilt to how you choose to spend your time.

Question the governing authority/ask why. The next time you find yourself saying that you should do something, identify the why behind it. “I should be going out” should be met with: “Oh really? Says who?” Chances are, you’re trying to force yourself to do something you really don’t care to do, which, hello! You are now a grown adult, and part of that means getting to spend your time and money how you want to spend it. I would rather spend my time (and money!) working out than going out — it’s not wrong, it’s just that my values are a little bit different than some of my peers.

Identify your values. Your real values, not what you want them to be. Take a values inventory (there are a ton out there!), hire a life or goal coach, or just spend some silent time writing about what you enjoy doing vs. what you currently spend your time doing. And then…

Actually do something about it. Start saying no to things that don’t fulfill you. Seek out opportunities that make you smile. Stop spending your time and money only to please other people. Embrace that you get one shot to develop and live a dynamic and awesome life that you love, and go out and freakin’ do the thing.

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