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Quit "shouldn" All Over Yourself


I had a reunion of sorts this past weekend. I got to see people I hadn’t seen for a while and had the opportunity to play on stage with those I hadn’t played with in a while. The experience stirred up reminders of things that I had set out to accomplish…a while ago.

Immediately upon stepping into the weekend, my brain started going through the laundry list of goals that I had set for myself when I first started performing. I felt myself zeroing in on what felt like a litany of things that I had yet to do, experience, to achieve. Of the long list of desires that I had put forth for myself, I skipped over every single one that I had already accomplished, and went straight to the goals I had yet to redeem. The diatribe in my head quickly devolved into flat-out berating myself for not having accomplished every detail of what I had originally set out to do. It didn’t take long for it to feel like I was staring into a deep chasm of all that I hadn’t done in my life thus far—of all that I should’ve had done by this year, by this age, by this phase of existence.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

In ruminating over the aspects of my life un-done, I realized that the problem didn’t lie in the “to-do list” mentality of achievement that seems to be our human default setting; for that is what incites progress. We are a species of leading-edge thinkers and doers. We thrive on progress. The problem was that I was zeroing in on my unaccomplished dreams and thinking that the timing was anything but perfect.

When we come across an environment that reminds us of things that we had set out to do, see, feel, experience–either one year or ten years ago–it is not supposed to be fodder for self-flagellation. It is not supposed to be an opportunity for us to “should” all over ourselves. It is simply our higher self reminding us that our dream is still right there for us—fresh as a daisy—ready and waiting.

I started to breath deeper—to unwind from my dip into the unrequited aspects of my life. I started to take stock of all that I had accomplished thus far. Namely, moving past mere survival, into a thriving state of being. The fact that I have been living the life I want to live, while being happy, healthy and whole. (It never hurts to celebrate the basics, because we all have had times in our lives when even the basics have been a struggle). I reevaluated what more I want to do in my life, and what—of that unfinished list—did I still want to do, bar none?

Once I was breathing deeply again, I could indeed hear the message being conveyed in the reminder that I still had things, goals, dreams yet to accomplish. It was up to me to refrain from translating it with copious amounts of judgement against myself. It was up to me to hear the true essence of the message, which was not, “damn, I should be doing this by now” but rather, “I really want to be doing this.” And we all deserve to be doing what we really, really want to do.

What we tend not to realize is that our dream has evolved right along with us, and is absolutely ready for who we are now. There are so many golden nuggets to be mined from the time that we set our goal, until the time that we actually feel the inspired impetus to truly pursue it. People tend not to pursue what they really don’t want to do. So, by that proxy, if you are not doing something that you thought you wanted to do, perhaps your dreams actually lie elsewhere. And if there is something you cannot get out of your head and your heart, and you find yourself in a shame-spiral of “should’n” all over yourself about having not done it yet…well, then, get out there, and go for your goal!

If you really want to do something, then, simply, start. Whatever that may be. If life is about the journey, then we find our greatest solace, thrill, excitement while in pursuit of our goal, not the destination of its accomplishment.

So go…take one step in pursuit of what you really want to do. I have already made a new declaration for my life this year, and it feels good. Join me in starting your own journey.

And watch as your world conspires on behalf of your deepest desires.