Are you doing what you “should” rather than what you “could”?
This week I was asked a really interesting question – why is it we don’t do the things that we know we should do? The things that should make our lives easier, happier, healthier, more straightforward, why is it that we simply don’t do them?
Now I’m sure that you are reading this and you can think of some examples, it may be that if you keep track of your finances better your tax return would have been easier, or if you had done your tax return in April you wouldn’t have spent all weekend battling with it. Or perhaps you had a New Year’s Resolution to eat better, be more active or other such stuff that you should have done, but you find now that you’ve done nothing of the sort – now why is that? Why don’t we help ourselves and do the things we should?
I’m fascinated by this, the answer is really rather quite straightforward and it is all based on the premise that we all experience life very differently, so what works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for someone else.
First of all, let’s take a moment to understand the word ‘should’, you will notice that it was used in the question that was asked of me and is usually used when it is something that we think we ought to be doing rather than what we are doing. In fact it means ‘used to indicate an obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticising someone’s actions’. So when we are saying we ‘should’ do something, what we are really saying is that there is a way of living that is the ‘right’ way and I’m not doing it!
So how do we know what is the ‘right’ way to live? The short answer is we don’t because there isn’t one. All we have is everyone else’s experience of life, what works for them. So for example, if you are a numbers person, like an accountant, making sure that your accounts etc are all up to date, is something that really works for you, you enjoy it, thrive on it even. But if you’re not, you may struggle to behave in the same way, it may become unenjoyable, demotivating and maybe even stressful; you may start to say ‘I should be like this, I should do that’, criticising the way that you are. It’s a bit like wearing someone else’s shoes, they may be the right size but when someone else has worn them, they don’t feel right to you and they’d be uncomfortable to wear!
So how do we navigate what works for us? The first step is to realise that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else, and if their ‘strategy’ doesn’t work for us, that’s ok.
As a busy working Mum I often have an endless list of ‘stuff’ on my list, including looking after myself and how I choose to work through that list boils down to one simple question – what am I motivated to do next? This is what works for me (it may not work for you of course!). The second is that I ask myself why it is that I want to achieve that ‘thing’ because if my ‘why’ isn’t strong enough, then I may not be motivated to do it – again, that is what works for me. How I’ve worked this out is that I’ve listened to what works for me, listened to what felt right, what I felt was easy, how I could do it without any inner criticism, obligation or self created stress.
So if you catch yourself saying ‘I should really be doing….’ ask yourself is it really something that you want to do? Why is it that you want to do it? Then work out a way to achieve it that feels right for you. You may be surprised that this time, you may just get it done!
Andrea Morrison is a Transformational Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Speaker (andreamorrison.co.uk) and is author of The Feel Good Factor in 30 days