Turn Your Shoulds Into Want Tos!

I hate Shoulds. They’re evil. They scream at me and shake their fingers. Ought to Have to and Must are just as bad. They make me the opposite of motivated.

You SHOULD write another newsletter. You have to!

The way I’m wired, the only possible response is, “Oh no I don’t.” It’s part of my genetic code to resist. In the fight for dominance between me and the giant parent in the sky I will always win. I long ago gave up any chance of being a good person.

This doesn’t serve me all that well. I realized a while back that I’m wasting an awful lot of energy with all that resistance.

I’ve found a way to trick myself– to turn Shoulds into Want Tos. It’s also a good process for any kind of tough decision. Here’s how it goes:

I treat all the choices as equally viable options without judgment, and I ask myself, “What do I like about it?”

For example, I was torn about making a day trip to Boston (about 5 hours driving roundtrip). The reason for going was desirable (see a celebrity I like at a private party) but I don’t much like going into the city and I’m shy about socializing with strangers. Did I really want to gear up for that? It seemed exhausting.

I made an honest list of everything I liked about the idea of going and everything I liked about the idea of not going. I didn’t bother with the reasons against either. They were irrelevant.

When I was done I looked it over and got a sense of the values expressed in both lists. Those expressed in one list were clearly more the person I aspire to be than those in the other. By focussing only on what I liked about each I was able to lift my attitude. I gave myself full permission to make either choice and one was definitely more what I wanted.

I encourage you to try it with a tough decision or a nagging SHOULD. Let me know if you need some help and send me a note about your results if it works for you too.

P.S. I went to the party. The celebrity kissed me.

Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC, of Find Your Way Coaching, coaches people who hate their jobs. Are you happy with your direction? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you fearless? Joyful? Energized? You could be. Visit find your way coaching or call 603-876-3956 for more information.

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