‘Should-ing’ all over yourself? How to get what you really want!

May 9, 2024

Are you ignoring what you WANT, in favour of what you think you ‘should’ do?

Today, I’m talking about one powerful little word which is sneaking its way into your vocabulary. And once I point it out to my clients, they can’t unsee it. In fact, I notice they start pulling themselves up on it!

Can you guess what this word is?


I see it in my clients who’ve followed a conventional career path or climbed the corporate ladder, without ever considering what they really want. I’ve also experienced it myself after years of chasing external success, overachievement — and spending the better part of my career working towards what I thought I ‘should’ be doing.

These are classic examples of what I call ‘should-ing’ all over yourself. Overlooking what you WANT, for what you think you ‘should’ do. Or putting yourself under pressure to ‘be’ a certain way, rather than ‘who’ you truly are.

It also shows up when you have a tendency to please others and put everyone else’s priorities or opinions ahead of your own. As a result, you struggle to make the right decisions, create the changes or reach the goals you desire.

Are YOU should-ing all over yourself?

Read on to learn 6 practical steps to help you break this habit — once and for all. You’ll find out how to make the shift from what you think you ‘should’ do and finally start creating the career you want!


The first step is awareness. Start by observing your language and noticing when you use the word ‘should’.

‘Should’ is a judgement you picked up in the past and adopted as your own. It’s the voice of your parents, society, conditioning or life experience. A form of self-sabotage — a limiting belief holding you back from what you want.

This voice feels like it’s your own because it’s so deeply ingrained in your subconscious. However, it doesn’t belong to you. The ‘should’ — and negative thoughts and feelings that accompany it — are separate to you, not part of you.

When you start to notice when you say it, you’ll stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself without even realising it!


When you notice the ‘should’, pause and question it. Does this voice belong to you — or someone else? More often than not, it’s the voice of self-sabotage.

Identify the belief behind the ‘should’. What does this voice say? Is it you ‘should’ forget about what you want because it’s not possible, achievable, realistic — or even an option?

Finally, challenge it — who says so?! Because when you remember this voice doesn’t belong to you, you’ll realise HOW you respond to it is within your complete control.


Pay attention to your behaviour. When you take action, are you doing it because you want to or you feel you should?

If your answer is ‘should’, ask yourself — What’s the fear? What are you afraid will happen if you don’t do it?

Even if your actions don’t change, when you question your behaviour, you will start thinking about what you DO want.


Once you notice the ‘should’ and question it, consciously choose what you want to do with it. Answer truthfully — do I actually want to do this? Listen carefully for the YES or NO!

If you have two conflicting ‘shoulds’ — prioritise! A simple example is: ‘I ‘should’ work hard and do extra hours to get a promotion or build my business.’ Versus: ‘I ‘should’ get home on time so I can spend time with my kids and be a good parent.’

In these situations, ask yourself: What is more important? Right now, in this moment?

When you remember you have the power of choice, you will choose what you really want!


Next, get clear on exactly what you do want. Knowing your vision will help you stay connected to what is right for you, rather than what others think you ‘should’ do.

This is about defining YOUR version of success. After years of chasing external success, I finally figured out this needs to begin from the inside out. Because unless I knew who I was and what I wanted, I was never going to thrive!

To stay on track with this, reverse engineer your vision into specific, measurable goals. Then, identify the action steps you need to complete to reach them. Finally, put aside time to take action towards what you DO want, even if it’s for 15 minutes each day.

Because when you know WHAT you want — your vision — your next steps will be clear!


The final step is to permanently remove ‘should’ from your vocabulary — along with its close family members ‘must’, ‘have to’ and ‘can’t’. The more you disengage from this limiting language, the easier it is to stay connected to what you want.

Whenever you notice yourself saying ‘I should’, focus instead on ‘I want’. Take charge and start going after what you DO want.

Commit to changing ‘I can’t’ to ‘I won’t’. This is about the power of choice and owning your decisions.

Here’s the bottom line: When you ask yourself what you really want, you will stop shoulding all over yourself!

This process has helped my clients and I stand firmly in who we are and stop giving up what we want in favour of what we feel we’re ‘supposed’ to do. I hope these steps support you too!

Ready to make the shift from what you think you ‘should’ do and finally start creating the career you WANT?

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult to find out how coaching with me can support you!

Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified career coach, speaker and trainer. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.