Sometimes I feel like we are in an overloaded society. Every moment of your day, there are countless options for how you will spend your time. This often leads us to think that there are so many things we should be doing with our time. We should be listening to those podcasts on the way to work. We should read that daily news update we get. We should only have one cup of coffee. We should have a morning routine. We should always pack our lunch. We should read a real book before bed. We should add in a high intensity, or low intensity, or different type of workout. We should have an evening routine. We should unplug two hours before bed. We should be on this dating app or that dating app. We should go to that networking event. We should want to travel all around the world. I could go on and on with things that other people, society, and the media tell us we should do – or things we tell ourselves we should do.
It can be paralyzing, can’t it?
It can lead you to the feeling that there’s always something else you should be doing. It can take you out of the moment and make you focus too much on the future or the past.
So stop shoulding all over the place.
I’m serious. Yes, there are about a thousand and one things you should be doing. A hundred things you could be doing.
But what do you want to do? What will you do? Why?
All of those shoulds are great, and maybe some of them are a perfect fit for you. But maybe they’re adding undue stress to you. Chances are, those shoulds are things other people have found that enrich their lives. But if they’re adding stress to your life, then you’re actually doing the complete opposite of what all those shoulds are supposed to do.
Think about it: People say you should unplug and stay away from screens for two hours before bed. But what if you’re in grad school, working on your thesis, and you have found that you work best at night? Unplugging 2 hours before bed would mean you would need to stay up much later than you already are! Or it would cut into your productive hours each day! If you’re still sleeping well, and you’ve found your groove, there’s no reason you need to follow that rule.
Sure, science shows some stuff and all that, but what’s most important is you. Do you feel good? Are you content? Are you fulfilled? Are you productive?
There’s no harm in trying out the things that other people have found work well for them. But once you’ve tried out some shoulds, weed out the ones that are coulds from the ones that are wills. Yes you could read a book each night, but if unwinding for you is listening to a podcast, then release that idea of reading a book and embrace your podcast ritual. Think about the shoulds, coulds, and wills as a way of getting to know yourself. What do you want to do? Why do you want to do it?