No more "Should"
Usually, on my birthday, I like reflecting on everything good and bad from the past year. Trying to eke out every lesson to take forward and shape into a better self.
Yesterday was slightly different.
Typically, I’d find and list several lessons to spot and evangelise into faithful core values. Throw things away, pivot, and start over. But this year, I fixated on one: pivoting from the word should.
I don’t miss being someone who enjoyed anticipation more than action. Have you ever caught yourself saying things like you should exercise more, should eat healthier, should finish that project, that you should stand up for yourself or say how you feel without worrying about people’s reactions?
Unique beauty is getting your things done and holding your ground without apology. Great art is unsettling yet memorable. It sinks in slowly and stays with you longer than you expect. You find yourself wanting to look at it again. That’s what you are when you remove that word from your palette.
I learned that how you frame your message affects you, your actions, and the power your words hold. How you speak about getting what you want can spark the blue flame that maintains the heat and fiery ambition beneath your actions—or undermine you entirely.
And the problem with saying “I should” is it implies a gap between what you are doing and what you ought to be doing. It creates a sense of guilt, pressure, or inadequacy. It suggests you are not in control of your own choices; you merely sing in the choir with the rest. It may sound beautiful, but you are only following someone else’s expectations or standards.
It’s an indirect way to tell yourself you are not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, or not worthy enough. A harmful habit we rarely acknowledge.
Language, down to your voice, tone, and expression, is therefore everything. Think about a great speaker you head. Someone talking to you from a stage or through a screen somehow empowers you to be bold and change your life. And it works. They bring energy and spark to the room and leave you thinking, wow… asking yourself: what is it about them?
Look carefully. Research shows it’s all about the variation of pace, pitch, volume, modulation. The first impression is always what you see and hear briefly before discerning what is being said. And that’s what speakers get right. Key messages are always emphasised with a raised voice. Important points are given the space (via a pause) so you can soak it up. Above all, they never underestimate the power of their voice to leave a positive and engaging impression on others.
This year for me, is all about pivoting towards unique beauty. Every new day is an opportunity to manifest my power, my optimism, and brilliance in its physical form. The same goes for you. Self-knowledge and self-possession are attractive because “should” is an obvious way to distance yourself from making necessary commitments. And as much as we can hope otherwise, it’s not fooling anyone except ourselves.
Instead, do and believe in what you love. Be honest with it. Thoughtful candour is rare and beautiful.
One of my big development points was to move from someone with “plans” to someone who is “planning”. I had big ideas and even got to the point of knowing the route to my goals pretty well. But whether I’d embark down it was a whole other question.
I sucked at committing to myself or taking responsibility and expressing confidence for years because it always sounds good until you actually have to do it. But over the past year or so—especially this year—I’ve been all in on cultivating the need for a positive feedback loop that reinforces self-esteem and happiness. Shifting to “I will” or “I am”, you can see it’s not just a word or phrase; it’s the energy and intention behind our actions—which alone can shape substantial chunks of our future.
The next time you catch yourself saying “should”, pause and rephrase. Instead of saying I should book a trip away, I said I will spend an hour today to figure it out (and now it’s done). Instead of saying I should exercise more, I said I will lay my yoga mat out and work on my core for at least 15 minutes a few times every week. That is happening now, and I often go for 30 minutes or more.
By changing one word, you can change your mindset and results. You can stop feeling guilty and start feeling proud. You can stop procrastinating and start taking action. You stop wishing and start doing. So, don’t let yourself slowly form into a question mark. “Should” is beneath you.
I’m not saying it will be easy; you must work hard to build confidence and self-possession. And the path of cultivating faith, commitment and action is a life-long project. But the more you embody your passions, beliefs, and steps towards doing what you love doing and less of what feels like a false commitment, the more vivid and fulfilling your life becomes.