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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why Are Americans Should-ing All Over Ourselves?

As children, we are taught “You shouldn’t talk to strangers”. Then, it often progresses to “You should look like the girls in magazines.” or “You should play football more like Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson." As adults, our shoulds can become barriers. For example, your peers might say “You should stay in your current job so you don’t lose momentum on your career path”, even though that current job is in a toxic work environment that has you severely stressed out. Or your peers might say “You should apply for this job in the next level of your career path”, even though that path is not your true passion.

How do you choose "could" or "must" over "should" daily?
Sometimes, the shoulds come from peer pressure; other times, instead, the shoulds come from within. As should plagues mankind, people tell us what we should or shouldn’t do, and we do the same thing to ourselves when that little voice in our heads tells us what society expects of us. Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?!?

In reality, there’s nothing you “should" or “shouldn’t” do. Those are a reflection of someone else’s thoughts, beliefs, values and priorities  Instead, what you must do is about what is right for your wants and needs as well as what you'll do to achieve those desires. 

There is a distinct difference between “should” and “must”. While “should” reflects how others want us to be, think, speak or act, “must” reflects our most authentic self’s basic needs, cravings, ideals and calling. Yet, it is usually not so simplistic... Choosing a “must” is often scary and a very difficult path while choosing a “should” can be much easier and involves much less risk.

Back in 2007, if I had listened to the shoulds being tossed my direction, I would’ve never opened Organize for Success, LLC  and I certainly would’ve never transitioned from the automotive industry being my full-time job. Many would highlight the stability of my Marketing Director position, wondering if I could possibly survive in this new frontier and saying that I should stay where I was successful. Instead, I took a risk, acting upon my passion for productivity, and I haven’t regretted it at all.

Recently, I came across an article discussing this “should" versus “must" predicament. As modern philosopher Joseph Campbell has said, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before”. Still, for those who are still searching to discover that most basic need, craving, ideal or calling, the article outlines a couple exercises to drive that conversation with yourself. First, write a press release for your future self, maybe about something you will have done, maybe about an award you will have won, maybe about a specific thing that you have created. Second, write your own obituary, elaborating on additional actions and accomplishments you will have completed throughout your life.

Instead of saying “should”, try using “could”. Watch Stefan Sagmeister’s TED talk about jobs versus careers versus callings, and internalize how they compare to each other. Examine your thoughts and beliefs to make certain they accurately reflect YOUR own beliefs, YOUR values and the fire within YOU. Then, take whatever action is right for you. Abandon the guilt! Honor your calling, take the path less traveled and commit to your “must” over any “should”. 

Do you find yourself regularly succumbing to the shoulds? How will YOU shift away from “should” today?

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