I was having a conversation with a client the other day about her ideal clients.
She described them as women who are doing what they feel they should be doing. Or, women who are doing what people tell them they should be doing. And guess what? It’s not working for them.
It got me to thinking.
How many times in my life have I done what I thought I was supposed to do? Or, done what others have told me to do? I’m a pretty independent, strong-willed person. Yet, I still fall into the should trap more often than I’d like to admit.
How about you?
How many times have you thought…
- I should be making more money.
- I should be working more.
- I should be working less.
- I should eat better.
- I should exercise more.
- I should lose weight.
- I should have more patience.
- I should call my mom more often.
- I should have more clients.
- I should be successful by now.
I’m sure you could add your own list of shoulds to that list.
What if you stepped back for a moment and asked yourself why you believe you should be doing those things.
Is it because you’ve been taught or conditioned that it’s the right thing to do?
Is it because someone you trust, respect, or hired told you that’s what you should be doing?
Is it because that’s what you think successful, rich, skinny, or happy (pick your adjective) people do?
How many of those shoulds are things you actually want to do?
You may be thinking you can’t just do what you want. You have to make a living. You have to be a responsible parent, or child. You can’t let other people down.
Yes, we all have responsibilities and this isn’t about shirking them and laying on the couch eating bon-bons all day. Rather, it’s about discovering what’s most important to you and what you’re willing to do to get it, instead of simply doing what others (or that voice in your head) keep telling you to do.
It’s your life. You should be the one living it.
In this case, should is the right word. Just because your parents, friends, colleagues, or mentors think your life or business should look a certain way doesn’t mean it has to. It’s up to you decide.
Be courageous enough to make your own decisions. Choose to live the life you want to live. Find what works for you. And stop comparing yourself to others. Because I have a secret to share with you… they’re probably comparing themselves to someone else, too! We’re raised to be competitive, to keep up with the Joneses, to achieve, to live these (seemingly) perfect little lives. But at what cost? And is there even such a thing as a perfect little life?
Try this instead.
What if instead of shoulding and comparing, you thought about what is most important to you…what the life you’d like to be living looks like… and then decided to act according to that?
I know for many years I thought I had to have a business that looked a certain way. I had to have more clients and be making a certain amount of money in order to be considered successful, and to therefore be happy. To feel as though I’d made it.
So I did a lot of things I thought I needed to do to achieve those things. Only to find out I never got to that feeling of success or accomplishment. I was always chasing more.
When I finally let go of the idea that my life and my business had to look a certain way to be considered successful, I was able to stop shoulding all over myself. I was able to relax and think about what type of life, business, number of clients, and amount of money I wanted. When I asked what would make me happy, the answer was never more clients, more work, or more money (it may be for you, and if it truly is, that’s OK). So by constantly chasing all three, I was moving further away from the happiness I was seeking.
Today my life and business look vastly different than they did even just a few years ago.
I am much more content. Yes, I’m happier, but for me the word content is a deliberate choice because I spent so many years feeling discontented… like I always needed something else to be truly happy.
I now realize what I was really searching for was a feeling of contentment. A sense of happiness and OK-ness in the present moment. That yes, things can (and will) change, and someday I may have more (or less) but that what’s most important is to find a sense of peace right where I am.
As cliché as it sounds, we only get one life.
Do you want to spend yours chasing what you think you should be chasing? Or living the life you want to be living?
Just something to think about the next time you hear yourself saying I really should…