Shaking the “Shoulds”!
A wise friend shared this phrase with me many years ago—“Shake the Shoulds”. It’s advice that I go back to often and something that has been in my mind a lot. Mostly because lately I’ve found it really hard to do. However, a few weeks ago, I had a half day off and I embraced the idea of shaking the “shoulds”.
The “shoulds” that day included writing a blog post, cleaning the house, and going grocery shopping. I did none of these. Instead I got a pedicure, went for a nature walk, enjoyed a Starbucks, did an act of kindness by paying for the stranger behind me, and got together with a friend for drinks and good conversations.
And although I did feel a twinge of guilt about not getting anything “productive” done, the side effects of me really taking time to do things that I love and that made me feel good was worth it. I went into the weekend relaxed and refreshed. I was a great mom (which I can truly say is not something I would label myself on a regular basis), was present with my family, and ended up having one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. In reflecting, I was thinking about what it would have felt like if I had done the “shoulds” instead of taking the time for myself. I think (because I have used my PTO days to do the “should” and no doubt will again) I would have felt resentment, annoyed, and tired. And that would have then impacted the rest of the weekend in a negative way.
So I know some of the “shoulds” do indeed have to actually get done. And they did get done throughout the weekend, but not in a crazy, must achieve in x amount of time kind of way. And some of the “shoulds” didn’t get done the same way or when I normally do them (darn me for being a creature of habit!)—for example, when I clean alone I do a different level of cleaning. But in not making it my sole responsibility, I needed to be okay with what could be done with the kids helping. We were able to make cleaning a pretty fun family thing (again, not something I normally can pull off when I’m tired and annoyed—but when I’m rested and feeling whole I can make things like cleaning somewhat fun for all of us).
I’m slowly realizing how much pressure I put on myself that really doesn’t need to be there. Will I find time to grocery shop? Yes, absolutely. Will I find time to clean? Maybe, maybe not. And that’s gonna have to just be okay. When I stop worrying about doing everything and meeting my own expectations about what I should be doing, I can actually start living in the present. And that’s truly where I want to start spending a whole lot more of my time.
What about you? Are you ready to “Shake the Shoulds”? What expectations do you put on yourself that you might be able to let go of or at least loosen up? What helps you to be present with your family and friends when work life is stressful? What helps you be present at work with those you engage with when your home life is stressful?