We all have a list of things we “should” do—go to the gym, eliminate sugar from our diets and sit upright.
But does our desire to do these things stem from within or do we feel we must do them because “everyone else” is doing them?
A “should” list is an ultimatum we give ourselves—do this or else?
I had a “should” list for a while. At the top of it was my commitment to go to the gym each day to run four miles. If I had to be at work early, I went to the gym earlier. If I had something to read for work, no problem, I clocked in my four miles on the stationary bike.
But what if I didn’t get these four miles in?
Well, I felt lazy. But there was a part of me, deep down inside, that breathed a little freer on these days. Of course, I could never fully admit it because I was so caught up in the shame of my “should” list.
Living with a “should” list is no way to live, in fact, it isn’t living.
When I had my “should” list, life felt like a constant race to accomplish the next task.
I had a friend whose “should” list nearly destroyed her marriage. At the top of her list was cleaning the house and doing the laundry. She woke at 4 am each morning to get her household cleaning done before she went to work. Soon 4 am became 3 am and before she knew it, she was going to bed at 7pm so she could complete her “should” list.
One day, her husband took away the brooms and dust bins and she had to live with the dust bunnies.
In this fast paced world, it is not uncommon to feel pressure to accomplish everything at once. Each day we encounter people who earn more than we do, are thinner that we are and have more friends than we do. When we compare ourselves to them, we ask ourselves,
“What are we doing wrong?”
And go back to our “should” list. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for ourselves, but telling ourselves we are not good enough is not the best way to get more.
My “should” list hijacked my life. I was tired, cranky and could never relax because I feared falling behind on my “should” list.
I had a choice to stop “shoulding on myself” and just be.
That is when I learned the power of intentions.
I have not abandoned my list of goals and neither has my friend, it is just that we don’t approach them in the same manner. With intentions, we work towards our goals, keeping in mind they are part of a much bigger picture and that it is okay if we do not accomplish them all today.
This is where intentions help ease the urgency to accomplish everything at once. Intentions are the messages we send out to the universe, to help us along the way. But we must trust that the universe will provide the answers instead of trying to will things to happen.
I keep my list of goals on my desk. I check them off as each one is completed.
Instead, of saying I “should” complete the rest, I acknowledge the work I have done to complete the goal I checked off my list and set an intention to keep working towards achieving the rest.
Intentions keep me focused, yet they are friendly gentle reminders, not harsh criticisms.
Intentions focus on what I have, they tell me I am enough and if I keep following my path, I will accomplish my goals.
With a change in mindset you can be free of your “should” list.
The number one thing to do is to stop thinking about the outcome. Do not visualize the end result, just visualize being content and working on your goal in a centered calm manner.
When we rely on ourselves and place our faith in the universe, a great shift will happen, not magically, but without the same screaming pressure of all those “shoulds” on our list.
We will evolve when we just let it happen.
Author: Jane CoCo Cowles
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Renee Picard