This Saturday, November 1st, is Give Up Your “Shoulds” Day.

While sometimes our “shoulds” propel us forward and help us get done what we need to get done, often our “shoulds” just get in our way. They can stop us from focusing on things that really matter; they can drain our energy and our enthusiasm; and they can really ruin our day (or our week…).

Therefore we challenge and encourage you to Give Up Your “Shoulds” – if even for one day, and invite you to read our post from a few years ago about why, and how, to do that.

Today is Give Up Your “Shoulds” Day. And I think giving up our “shoulds” is something we all should do!

Seriously, if you’re like me you have a litany of “shoulds” running through your brain. “I should work later to get this project done.” “I should get home earlier and get things cleaned up there.” “I should exercise more.” “I should volunteer at my kid’s school.” “I should network more.” “I should learn another language.” Your “shoulds” might be different from mine, but they’re there.

When our “shoulds” work for us, they drive us to get something done that we really feel needs to get done. But more often than not our “shoulds” haunt us, because we don’t do the things we feel we should do. Then we’re left feeling guilty or inadequate or like we’ve failed.

So today (or maybe the entire month of November) is a chance to experiment with giving up your “shoulds.” Because then you’ll be left to figure out what it is you really want to do, or what would be most useful. The freedom that comes with putting down the burden of “shoulds” give us extra space in our minds, and freedom to live the life we want to lead. And who doesn’t want that?

So how do you do it? How do we conquer the “shoulds” that rule us – and the fear that somehow if we don’t address our “shoulds”, things will fall apart? We could get stuck planning out how to move forward. Instead, here are a few simple steps to triumph over your “shoulds”:

  1. Make a list of the “shoulds” running through your brain.
  2. Go through the list and write down why you should do each should.
  3. Look carefully at that list and determine which of those things really need to happen – which “shoulds” are necessary or reasonable to ask of yourself? And whose “shoulds” are they really? What items on the list are there because others are imposing “shoulds” on you (intentionally or unintentionally)?
  4. Look even more carefully at the list and figure out which “shoulds” you can let go of.
  5. When the “shoulds” come back to haunt you in your mind, remind yourself that you “could” do that should, but you’re choosing not to because….
  6. For backup (if the voice in your head keeps arguing for your “shoulds”), make a list of all the things you are doing and accomplishing – as proof that you’re not slacking off. This will help you stick to your decision to stop shoulding.
  7. Now look to the people who work for and with you (or live with you) and see what “shoulds” you can release them of as well.

Our “shoulds” drain our energy, lessen our leadership, and ruin our day. November 1st is a great day to start giving up your “shoulds”. Try it and see what happens.

What do you think about giving up “shoulds?” Why should or shouldn’t you? How have you and can you?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in giving up your “shoulds”, contact Lisa at

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