Stop “Shoulding” On Yourself

I don’t remember the first place I read or heard the phrase, “Stop shoulding on yourself” but it was big in the self-help circles I was addicted to (*ahem*), I spent my formative years in. The basic idea was that using “should” to describe all the things you weren’t doing that you had been told (coerced into believing) would bring about all the positive changes in your life, was detrimental to your being able to feel good about yourself.

I built the alchemy process I teach in The Next Chapter through years of trial and error – and in doing so, I discovered that the magic is strongest when the process happens outside the confines of a comfort zone.  So, I’m urging my clients to make 2018 the year they live outside their comfort zones.  That they take a few steps each day into the “unknown” that lies just across the line of their current habits / routines. This business with “should” came up quickly.

“Well, what should I do exactly” – clients wanting a strict list of do’s and don’t’s to follow.

“I should force myself out of bed at o’dark silly and do all the things before I start my day, right?” – when talking about establishing routines that encompass one or two goal-reaching steps.

Do you hear the silent part of the “should”?  It sounds like this, “I should do this, because if I don’t, I won’t ever reach my goal.”


giphy    ….Not exactly.

While there are plenty of positive things that can come from “shoulding” yourself into action, I promote a more realistic approach.  One that fits into your Real Life (aka Comfort Zone) as it exists right now versus driving you to make drastic changes that, as I experienced, don’t hold up in the long run or, and this is the biggie, don’t feel good in the short. Attempting to live completely outside your comfort zone, I found, is a sure fire way NOT to live your best life to date.

Instead, I’m suggesting to my clients that they try this: “I SHOULD (insert activity here) IF (insert real life condition here), OTHERWISE (insert commitment to activity in real time).”  I got this brilliant adaptation on the “should” from my Content Consultant, Jennifer Elin Cole at Collaborative Solutions Group. She is my guru when it comes to wordsmithing my ad copy – I highly recommend you email her to schedule your consultation,

Now, here’s how this version of “shoulding” works. Instead of “I should start getting up at o’dark silly and do all the things,”  you say instead, “I SHOULD get up and do my morning routine at 5am IF I wake up at five naturally and don’t immediately fall back to sleep, OTHERWISE, I’ll make sure to complete my meditation and yoga by 9pm.”  I don’t know about you, but the rephrasing allowed me a ‘mountain vista’ amount of breathing space.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

You’ll still get the things that you “should” be doing (exercise, mindfulness, or whatever your specific activities are), done. You’ll still be taking steps toward your goals. And, you will have eased outside your comfort zone which lessens the discomfort. And that means being able to sustain the change until it becomes a regular part of your life – that’s when you know you’ve turned the page, so to speak.


OLD – “I should stop eating meat to lose weight.”

NEW – “I should stop eating meat if I find that I am healthier overall without it, otherwise I will (cut back to just one serving of meat a week / eat leaner types of meat / eat smaller portions…etc) for the next four weeks.”

OLD – “I should stop buying coffee at the coffee shop so I can save money.”

NEW – “I should stop buying coffee at the coffee shop if I discover it’s costing me over X amount of dollars a month, otherwise, I will (cut back to one coffee a week / choose a less expensive option / etc..) this week.”

Give it a try. Make a quick list of things you’ve been “shoulding” on yourself with so far this year that you’ve either stopped doing already, or haven’t been able to accomplish at all. Then pull out your schedule for the day (week or month).  Start with the first thing on your list and apply the new “Should…If…Otherwise”.  Schedule the activities into your day, then come back and let us know in the comments how it worked for you.

If you enjoyed this tid-bit, then we think you’re going to LOVE our 2018 Real Life Living presentation series. We’ve booked some area experts to share their tips, tricks, tools, and resources on how to make this chapter in your life, your BEST chapter to date.

Sign up here for more information.

Thank you for stopping by. Don’t forget to drop us a line, let us know how you’re doing.

Sending love and LIGHT,

The Next Chapter


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