I hear it all the time. Almost every time I check in with a client or a fellow girl boss on their progress, the conversation inevitably takes a turn. They are excited about their wins, but when it comes to managing expectations, there’s a looming sense that typically sound like this:
“I know I should be doing this, but…" “Ugh, I keep trying to motivate myself. I know I should be better at...” “After I get this done, I should really focus on that…”
It’s the “should” syndrome, and it’s plaguing the motivation and enjoyment of our work and lives. When we “should” on ourselves, we place unnecessary expectation and obligation on what we needs to be done or accomplished. When we fail to complete those tasks or simply don’t do them, it’s a one-way ticket to guilt-town for all my recovering perfectionist friends (myself included). Worse of all, it paralyzes us with inaction until we are stuck shamefully spinning our wheels.
But what if we changed the way we motivate ourselves... by actually motivating ourselves? What could possibly be different if we got rid of our “should” and do something different? Today I wanted to share with you one simple way to get out of guilt-town and increase your motivation and enjoyment to do work your way.
Introducing: A Word Cleanse! Kind of like a colon cleanse that helps you get rid of your body’s toxins, we’ll challenge your beliefs and get rid of toxic words and replace it with some healthier, more “fruitful” words that will lead you to taking more inspired action.
Step 1: Challenge your beliefs — Why “should” you do this?
The first step to bringing change in an ingrained habit, and to create awareness. The next time you catch yourself saying, “I should….”, stop and question why. Why should you do this? Identify where this obligation is coming from. Examples of external obligation could be: Is it peer pressure? Is it because the internet guru told you the one secret to success? Is it to keep up with the Jones’? Is it for fear that what’s-her-name doesn’t like you? Or, it could be internally: Is it a life-long dream? Is it something you’ve buried for a while in order to put others first? Is it something that you want to do, but just not sure how? The reasons may stem from desiring to appear perfect, pleasing people, or having a hard a time saying no. Journal out your responses or talk to a friend or coach to pinpoint if your words are supporting or limiting you. If it’s supporting you, AWESOME! ROCK ON! If not, move on to step 2.
** Note:** If it’s truly an obligation in terms of a responsibility you're committed to, try switching up your language in terms of rewards and consequences. Keep in mind the result is to propel you into action. For example: If I complete this project now, I’ll have time to go to the movies with my friends tonight. OR If I procrastinate on this project now, I’ll have twice as much to do as tomorrow.
Step 2: Replace “should” With Something More Motivating
After cleansing out the toxins, it’s important to replace it with nutrients. We can do the same thing with your words. Get rid of “should” (if that’s your toxic word), and replace it with motivating ones. Not sure where to start? Here’s a motivation word buffet for you to choose from:
can, try, may, intend, able to, possible, dare, decide, wish, get to, let, allow, want, will, choose to, am
Try it out! Replace “should” with a more motivational word from above.
should invite the new girl out to lunch. (But why?!)
I intend to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I’m able to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I can invite the new girl out to lunch.
When we talk about motivation words, we’re evaluating them in terms of action potential. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to do it? The greater the number (according to your personal scale), the greater to motivation level.
Step 3: Which words will allow you to enjoy the process?
Motivation is one thing — inspiring you to do something, but enjoyment is another — actually having fun and liking the process. To shift beyond motivation to enjoyment, repeat step 2 but with your enjoyment words. On a scale of 1-10 (1-low, 10-high), if you took action, how much would you enjoy it?
Try it out! Stretch your motivation word into an enjoyment word. Ex. I should invite the new girl out to lunch. (But why?!) Motivation words: I intend to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I’m able to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I can invite the new girl out to lunch. Enjoyment words: I dare myself to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I want to invite the new girl out to lunch. // I choose to invite the new girl out to lunch.
Just by changing out a couple a key words, notice the shift from obligation to choice and empowerment. When we are clear of our motivation, we can get out of our own way and start to appreciate and create joy in the process. Over time, you’ll create a new word habit to let go of unsupportive sense of obligation into a more healthy, and expansive way of following through on your intentions.
Your turn: Share your new words/phrases in the comments below. What's one motivation word you would like to try using? What’s one enjoyment word you want to incorporate? I would love to hear your thoughts on this simple change and what has worked and not worked for you.
Stop shoulding and start doing,