Shed the 'Should'

How Ignoring What Others Want for You Can Change Your Life for the Better

byAnde Frazier


November 20, 2019 .2 min read

Many women go through life overwhelmed by obligations. I should be on a career path. I should be saving more. I should be married by 30 and have two kids.

Well, it’s time to stop should-ing yourself. 

But how?

The first step to being free of what others want or might expect from you is to spend time figuring out what you really desire. And not in terms of financial security.  

What makes you grateful for being alive? Consider the question without the influence of how others could judge you. We care far too much about that. 

It’s a perception that commonly takes root because of money. 

Breaking away from those sometimes crushing burdens of duty requires recognition. You must embrace the truth of your circumstances. Do you actually enjoy your job or would you prefer to switch fields or even start your own business? How happy are you with your personal life?

That’s a risky exercise, for sure.

Throughout my experience talking to women, I have found that many set financial goals based on this should-ing trap. Last week, a woman told me she really wanted to leave New York City to go out west because she thought the less stressful way of life there would better suit her needs. 

“I feel so overwhelmed with all the stimulation of the city,”

she revealed.

“I feel like I can’t think or relax. I know I need to be saving more money and want to go on a hike or bike ride rather than heading out to dinner and drinks with friends. But I feel as though I am missing out on something if I stay at home or say no.” 

Yet despite her strong feelings for wanting to move and start something new, she struggled with the “shoulds” from those closest to her.

“My family thinks leaving the city, where I have a good job, is being reckless.  How can I justify to them that my mental health is in need of tranquility, even if that means making less money?”

She knew in her gut that making a change was the right call but fear — of the potential consequences if it didn’t work out, as well as being judged negatively — left her unable to act. 

She and I worked together to come up with some small steps she could take to feel more comfortable with this life-changing decision. 

Creating a plan, even if you don’t share it with others, can help eliminate some of the anxiety behind those should-ing voices. 

One thing is very clear to me: If we keep making decisions and setting goals based on “shoulds” — those nagging admonishments from parents, friends, and family — we’ll never get what we really want.