Do you ever feel bogged down by the things you feel like you should be doing? I’m not talking about the things that you have to do, like filing your taxes or exercising. I’m talking about the endless list of things you think would make you a better parent, spouse, friend, worker, and member of society.  I call them the shoulds.

They have enough of a pull to make us feel guilty for not doing them, but not enough to actually make us take action. They take up headspace, energy, and often cause resentment. They are usually things we think we should do because of the way we would appear to others. But in truth, they are things that we don’t care about that much and really do not want to do. They are wrapped up in ego and people pleasing and that constant need to stay busy. They are things like:

I should print out the 10,000 photos that live on my computer of my children and scrapbook them all.

I should wash my car.

I should learn how to garden.

I should volunteer more.

I should go to lunch with that one co-worker at the office who keeps asking.

I should learn another language.

Guess what? You don’t have to do any of those things.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is something on your should list that you truly need or want to do, then put it on your to-do list. However, if your mind is being occupied by pesky shoulds that you actually have no intention of ever accomplishing, let yourself off the hook.  It is a freeing experience. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much energy we can give. When we are focused on tedious tasks or ideas of how much better we would be if only we would do x,y, and z, we are robbing ourselves of our free time, our peace, and of our heart’s desires. When you give yourself permission to get the store bought cupcakes instead of muddling through a 37-step Pinterest recipe for your son’s 4th grade class, or finally accept that you do not want to take up golf because you really just don’t like it, you will make room for the other things that you want to do.

As a society, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do more and be more. What if we started being honest about who we are and what we want and build our intentions from there?  When I teach this to my clients, they have a hard time conceptualizing it at first. They can’t believe that they can just decide to not do something that they feel like they should do. But they can. And you can. I encourage you to really adopt a “Who cares?” approach. Who cares if I scrapbook or learn fluent Spanish? Do you? No. I don’t either.  And, if I am honest, I don’t want to. With that extra time I would rather work on my book, hike, write these articles, hang out with my family, and go to the beach.

Knowing what you will and won’t do is powerful. I encourage you to make your list of wont’s. When you do, it will make more space for you to fan the flames of the of your life’s purpose. When we stop hiding behind our tasks and our busyness we are left to look at what we truly want for ourselves. If you don’t know what that is, contact me for a complimentary 30-minute discovery session.

I would love to hear what you won’t do and why it’s hard to give it up. Email me to stay accountable and to share your list.

Here’s to the power of won’t!


Gretchen Hydo

Any Lengths Life Coaching


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