So yesterday we talked about the dreaded “S” word…”Should” and that step 1 in solving our “Should” problem is first, to work out and ensure that these beliefs are actually ours.
The second problem with “Shoulds” is that very few people actually do them. How many times do you say “I should lose weight” and then not actually do anything about it? New Year’s resolutions need to be made once every year for a reason…because we don’t stick to them the first time we make them!
So Step 2 in solving our “Should” problem is to banish the word “should” from our vocabulary! If it helps, make yourself a “should” box…every time you use the “S” word, you have to make a donation to the box…for most of us we’d have enough for a new pair of Maonolos by Christmas!
Now, as you probably know, just trying to stop yourself from doing something on its own can be a challenge…so in order to successfully banish the “S” word, we need to replace it with something.
And, believe it or not, the language that we use is massively important to how we end up feeling and we want to make it work for us, not against us. So, whenever you get the urge to use the “S” word, instead change them into either “want to’s”, “get to’s” or “musts”.
“Want to’s” – Think about it…if you have something that you should do, and something that you want to do…which are you likely to do first? Which are you likely to enjoy more? So changing “I should do more exercise” to “I want to do more exercise” actually changes how we feel about “doing more exercise”…even though all we’ve done is change a couple of words. It might seem like a small change, but believe me it makes a big difference!
“Get to’s”- Like the “want to’s” this simple change can make a huge difference to how you feel. So, let’s use a great example which applies in my life on a regular basis: changing “I should go running this morning” to “I get to go running this morning”. Let’s face it; there are thousands of people who would LOVE to be able to go running of a morning (admittedly not those who hit the cocktails a little hard the night before!), but for whatever reason they can’t. Taking something which could otherwise seem like a chore and turning it into something I “get to” do completely changes how I feel about it. Give it a try – you never know, you might enjoy it… 😉
“Musts” – “Shoulds” and “musts” are a world apart. We all know that things that are musts are non-negotiables…we have to ensure that they happen, regardless of the circumstances. Whether they are eating food, drinking water, or paying our rent, we all have them, they just differ from person to person. For one person wearing makeup to leave the house is a must, for someone else it’s a should, for another person it would be something they would consider and for a fourth it would be a must not! It’s all completely subjective. So as you can see, making this small change in language completely changes how we perceive the situation and more importantly how likely we are to act on it. (Note to self…I MUST get a new pair of heels for the Christmas season… 😉 )
The third thing about “Shoulds” is that they also tend to be very non-specific. This makes them that much harder to achieve…or if you do achieve them, you don’t notice that you’ve done it, so you can’t even congratulate yourself for a job well done!
For example, if one of your “Shoulds” was “I should lose some weight”, what does this actually mean? How much weight? By when? If you are aiming to lose “some weight” and you lose 2lbs, then technically you’ve achieved your goal…but I can’t believe that without checking the scales religiously that (1) you’d even notice or (2) if you did notice that you’d be doing a happy dance around your living room to celebrate your great achievement…
Therefore step 3 is get specific! If you want to do something about one of your “want to’s”, “get to’s” or “musts” then be specific about exactly what it is you’re going to do. Now in doing this you need to be reasonable (we don’t want to pressure ourselves to achieve something which would require superhuman skills to do!), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be ambitious!
So rather than “I should lose some weight”…you could choose to now can say “I want to lose 6lbs in the next 3 months”. This simple change of language can make all the difference in how you feel about your desired outcome and also increases the likelihood of actually achieving it.
Finally when we actually do something that would previously have fallen into the category of “should” we rarely take the time to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we’ve done it! Think about this in terms of being like trying to encourage a child to do something that you want them to do. If you point out or criticise the child every time they do something you don’t want them to do, and never acknowledge them when they do what you want them to, what are the chances that they will actually change their behaviour? Pretty slim right? We need to positively re-inforce the behaviour that we would like repeated so that the child feels good when they do it, which increases their motivation to do it again.
We are no different. We need to take the time to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the things that we feel we are doing well, in order to encourage ourselves to keep doing them, rather than regularly focusing on what should be done ‘better’.
Therefore the fourth and final step in solving your “should” problem is to remember to always recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the things you are doing well in your life. There are lots of ways that you can do this, and you need to find the way that works for you…as long as it makes you smile it’s doing the job! For me, this was the invention of the “Happy Dance”…30-60 seconds of jumping and dancing around in a silly way with a smile on my face…does the job perfectly!
So now we have all of our steps, I would like to ask you to make a commitment to yourself that rather than using these “shoulds” (which only serve to make you feel bad for no good reason!) that you will choose to change your language in the future to feel good about making the change that you want to make and will also help you to achieve it!
…I think so too… 😉