One of the most astonishing things I have learned as an executive job coach is how the word “should” blocks my job-seeking clients from growing their careers.
Have you ever said anything like this?
- I SHOULD just stay in my current job even though I’m unhappy. The job market is just too hard.
- I SHOULD just get a low-paying job outside my field until I find something I like.
- I SHOULD tell my boss I want that job with more responsibility even though I really don’t.
- I SHOULD go back to school for another degree so I can search for a better job.
Are you living a career of “shoulds?” Do you feel like you no longer control your life?
I interviewed Stacey Hall, the CEO and founder of the Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness and the best-selling author of Chi-To-Be! Achieving Your Ultimate B-All , and she has a powerful perspective to help you release the “should.”
- Acknowledge your “shoulding” ways
“I had a flash of clarity,” Hall said. “I had been making a choice each time I said, ‘I should do something.’ I believed that there was a right way and a wrong way to live my life and plan my career. To be successful, I felt I should follow the right way.”
“Once I decided to take back my power to choose what felt good for me to do, rather than what I should do, I was back on track to achieving my career goals with velocity and ease.”
With the same acknowledgement, you can feel empowered to choose while reshaping your life.
- Set long-term goals
Don’t focus on the present: Make a long-term plan for your career. What are the goals you want to achieve during your work?
“Always keep your eye on your own goals,” Hall said. “By knowing your destination, you can more easily map out the shortest route to get there. We are empowered from the inside out when we set our own goals for our lives and careers.
As you continue to keep your eye on the achievement of your own long-term goals, you will be able to more easily choose the direction to go. Each time you receive a request for your time, your energy, your opinion, your attention from others, you will be able to respond confidently and quickly. You can accept requests that will move you closer to the achievement of your own goals.”
- Set deadlines that you choose
“Before accepting requests for support from friends and volunteering time and money, I take a breath and make sure I have sufficient time to provide the support they are requesting while still achieving my own goals,” Hall said. “If I do not have the time to take good care of myself first, I am not in a position to give my best to anyone else.”
Many people feel awkward saying “No” to others, but learning to use that phrase is crucial. Try replying politely with “I appreciate the request, but I need to focus on other high priorities right now.”
Don’t apologize or make excuses — the other person will understand and will most likely drop their request completely (I don’t recommend trying this with your boss, though).
- Notice when you’re trapping yourself in the right and wrong ways that you learned from others
Hall suggests taking note when you hear yourself saying, “I should do this” or “I have to do that” — you’re putting a “should” on yourself instead of moving towards your goals.
“Most people do not realize just how often they use those two statements,” Hall said. “Each time they say either one, they are diminishing their own personal power by putting themselves into a victim mentality.”