Should We, Really?

If there is one subject that pops up most often, it’s about “The Shoulds.” An example is this email exchange from someone who claimed they are plagued by what is known as “The Shoulds.” This person wrote that life had been consumed by “a bunch of shoulds” and that there were days the writer woke up dreading what might happen during the day. In short, life was “no life at all.”

Living by “The Shoulds” is not a particularly constructive thing. Life is meant to be lived and lived with joy. Life is too short and too precious for it to be spent being miserable and weighed down by things we think we are supposed to do or think. Consider this:

Most of us were raised with “shoulds” coming from our parents and family members, perhaps even our faiths. And while some of these “shoulds” were valid and created to maintain safe and productive communities, some of them have become millstones around our necks.

It is good – from time to time – to take a look at the attitudes and habits that are running our days. Along with taking an inventory of your comfort zones and restrictive zones, take a look to see if there are any “shoulds” running around unattended. Give them a thorough “look-see” to make sure that each is valid, and not keeping you from exploring new opportunities or possibilities that will enrich your life.

And by the way, this goes for organizations as well. Organizational “shoulds” tend to be institutionalized as untethered rules and regulations. They can get in the way of productivity and growth, without anyone noticing. For some organizations, the origins of these “shoulds” are shrouded in mystery, as they have been passed on without comment or reflection. They’ve become a part of the culture. These organizational “shoulds” could stand to be studied for their continued usefulness.

Life is about choices, and we have the ability to choose. We always have had this ability. Not only do we have the ability, we have the responsibility to make choices for ourselves. It is your life, and you are in the driver’s seat, if you choose to be.