How many times have you used the word ‘should’ to describe advice you are giving to yourself or others? Chances are that you ‘should’ yourself and others often and the likelihood that it turns into something productive and positive is slim (trust me, I know from personal experience).

As a life coach, I often encounter my clients ‘shoulding themselves’ early on in conversations. I find this sets unrealistic expectations, causes distrust in relationships, attaches negative feelings and guilt, and causes people to stay stuck in the past. These outcomes do not benefit you with goals or living a purpose-full life. Every time I hear a client say ‘should’ (or can’t), I ask them to consider a different word. Most of the time, their intention is different than what is expressed with ‘should’.

Should in Action

The potential of changing ‘should’ from your vocabulary and mindset is powerful. Here’s a couple of examples of the negative impact of ‘should’.

Personal ‘Should’

I should work out 4 days a week.

I will work out 4 days a week.

See the difference? The first sentence with the word ‘should’ does not bring any sense of assurance. The second sentence gives a sense of commitment and inspires action.

Should with Others

You should quit your job if you are happy.

You could quit your job if you are happy.

The slight change from ‘should’ to ‘could’ offers a sense of choice and offers a less harsh approach to an opinion. It also gives the other person an open mind to think about the possibilities if they complete the action.

You Should Can Stop It

Eliminate the negative thinking and feelings attached to the word should by become aware, replacing ‘should’, and accomplishing what you set to do.

  • Aware – The first step in changing your mindset about intentions is becoming more aware of the use of negative or disagreeable words from our vocabulary, like should.
  • Replace – Next time you catch yourself saying should try replacing it with could, would, choose or will.
  • Accomplish – The change in mindset and attitude about the words you say will come, but for it to transpire, you must act. If it’s starting a workout routine or quitting a negative habit, do it. If it requires a bit more time to accomplish, take small steps consistently. They will add up and you will get there.

Benefits of Not ‘Shoulding Yourself’                                       

There are several benefits of replacing ‘should’ from your vocabulary. You can look forward to:

  1. Realistic Expectations
  2. A Positive Spirit
  3. Trusted Relationships
  4. Personal Fulfilment
  5. A Present Mindset

Don’t Should Yourself… it sounds simple but is not easy. Once you make the choice to change the way you think, talk (to ourselves and others) and do, you’ll find yourself on the path to a life filled with intent, gratitude, and purpose.