I try my hardest not to use the word “should.”
It’s a word loaded with what we think we need to do, based on the expectations of others or guilt within ourselves.
Instead I try to ask myself:
Do I have to do this? Do I want to do this?
It’s taken me a while to get here.
Sometimes I don’t want to, but I have to (usually work). Sometimes I don’t have to, but I want to (usually art, entertainment, zoning out on my phone for a few). Sometimes I have to AND I want to (this is where naps come in).
“I should do some work right now.” I have to do my job and complete certain tasks on time because people are depending on me. But do I have to do it now, or is family or creativity time more beneficial right now? (Important to note I am also a serial deadline pusher.)
“I should go to the gym.” A few years ago I did a workout program that involved long, intense workouts six days a week. If I didn’t do the workouts, I couldn’t follow the meal plan (read: eat lots of carbs), and then I wouldn’t achieve the results it seemed like everyone else was getting. “I want to follow this program” (read: “I want to eat all these carbs”) turned into “I have to rearrange my life to revolve around this exercise and meal plan.” I got burned out and resentful. And a little fluffy around the middle.
I want to work out to keep my body healthy. I often have no problem pushing through the “I don’t wanna!” But if I’m exhausted, maybe resting would serve me better or I can go for a walk instead. Leave the guilt at the door.
“I should take advantage of this free time to be productive!” Ugh, “productive” is another word we just need to throw right in the trash. What even is productive anyway?
I want to create art to express myself and keep the momentum going. I want to create a practice and a discipline. But I don’t want it to become something I feel like I have to do for some unknown reason. And I certainly don’t want to scrub my cabinets under the guise of “being productive.”
“I should blog more.” I want to blog more so I can keep up a regular practice and record my thoughts on balancing creativity with real life. Also maybe I want to relive the OG days when blogging was a community.
Saying “should” makes each of these just another thing we have to do. Boxes we have to check off. And that shit’s exhausting and will only ensure that we get burned out and do none of it.
Have tos aren’t bad. Want tos aren’t bad. Doing either of these based on other’s expectations and perceived judgments is where we lose our focus on our own goals.
Do I have to do this? Do I want to do this? Will this move the needle to my goal? We’ll see.