Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.
A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.
A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.
It was kind of amazing.
And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.
One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”
But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?
The answer was a clear NO.
I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.
I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.
I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.
And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.
It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.
What “shoulds” are you holding onto?
Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?
Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?
Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?
Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.
Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?
Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?
Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?
A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.
Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.
So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.