shedding the SHOULD DO'S + doing what I WANT

Yesterday I stumbled upon a spectacular website, Hello Month.  It combines photography and loving notes to create a calendar-like set up with a beautiful reminder each day to care for yourself. (I seriously encourage you to follow the link and take a peek.)

Today’s message struck me on a personal level… Sarah writes:

Dear Me,
A day without shoulds...is it even possible?
Today, we’re going to try. Continue noticing your shoulds, and *then* practice replacing them with what you really want. Instead of “I should make dinner right now”, think about what you actually *want* to do. Maybe you want to make dinner, or maybe you just want to order pizza. Maybe you don’t want to make a boring dinner, but you *do* want to be creative in the kitchen.
Find a way to do what you want to do, rather than what you *should* be doing. Of course, if even *this* feels like a should, that’s a perfect place to start.
the You whose desires are good and noble
I primarily live my life by what I *should* be doing. Especially since I returned to college and have struggled to manage my time and efficiency with homework, work, and personal pleasures. My *wants* are only thought after (and if) I get all of that done.
I SHOULD be writing that paper.
I SHOULD layout what needs to get done for the week.
I SHOULD have read that chapter in a lot less time than I took to read it.
Even events I look forward to! Take last night. My college town celebrates Oktoberfest, so the campus puts on a weekend-long event where underage-safe activities such as craft nights, laser tag, Harry Potter-themed nights, etc. are put on.
Katelin and I thought we would brave the tie-dye event in our hall, but the day just didn’t call for it. You know, life happens: I was in a sour mood, the homework wasn’t done, and ya-ta-ya-ta. It all boiled down to: I just wasn’t feelin’ the tie-dye.
But I thought I SHOULD do it. Something fun became an obligation instead of an option.
These Should Do’s of our life come from the idea that we need to have “this, this, and this” crossed off our lists before we can be satisfied. It’s a process dependent on shame and guilt and totally sucks the enjoyment out of everything.
There’s this idea that, if I get all of this homework done in this amount of time… if I get outside and take a walk today…if I do yoga three times a week… I can feel good about myself. I can be content. I can breathe.
Today I shook that off, and let go of the Should Do’s, and focused on what I wanted to do. And no! This didn’t mean I skipped all of my homework, because that actually negates a deeper want (learning, growing, graduating).
But I did my homework – when I wanted to, not when I thought I should do it. I took my time with it and actually, GASP, enjoyed the process.
I stayed in bed, in my sweats, with fresh air blowing in the window, and just gave myself as long as I needed. I took breaks, got up and stretched, and even played some video games when I wanted.
I didn’t do yoga. I did get outside. I did have a donut.
But none of these did’s or didn’t(s) bared the burdens I so often feel. And I found I could breathe much easier.
Shedding the Should Dos gives us more freedom to do what we want, and that often correlates with the things we need to do.
Inspired by Hello Month, the changing of seasons, and the welcome of a new month, this is going to be my focus of October: to continue shedding these Should Dos and embracing the Wants.
Will you join me?


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