Welcome to Should Land. You should have lots of fun here because you should enjoy the rides, should like the people here and should get on with what you are doing because everyone else does.

The whole problem with ‘should‘ has come up very regularly with my clients lately.  They have been doing things because they have a feeling that they should – because someone has told them they should or they feel like they should because of ‘such and such’ reason or that other people are doing it so they should be too.

Welcome to Should Land

The thing that comes up time and time again with the whole ‘should’ thing is that the person taking the action actually doesn’t really want to be doing it (and they probably know it too, in some way) but they keep on banging their head against the wall trying to do something they just aren’t into.

I know you know what it is like to be doing a ‘should’ thing.

We all have times when we think that we should be doing something, think high school for example when you thought that you should be dating someone because everyone else was or when you graduated from university and you should have a solid job in the field of your degree within the first year because that’s what your parents or older sibling did etc.

If you actually think about it, we would be in a horrible place for ourselves if we did every ‘should’ that came your way.

One example I share with my clients was that we would be married to the person our parents thought were best for us (not the risky person that made us feel excited and alive!), we would be working in a job that numbed us beyond expectation because we should be doing something that we are good at and relates to our experience, we would have 2.4 children and drive the car that is the safest and most reliable because that is what is expected of us when we get to a certain age.

How thrilled are you at this picture?  Not very, I can bet!

Here’s the thing about ‘should’ they are not your thoughts or expectations.  They are that of someone else.  We often take them and make them into our own because we don’t want to disappoint or upset the person that issued the ‘should’ so go along with it to keep the peace.

You know it!

But in the process of doing this we plunge ourselves into a pit of nothing.  There is no excitement when you do ‘shoulds’, there is no adventure or fulfillment, you just plod along living someone else’s life.

Let me share an example of my ‘should’ following.  I was working in a job that was making me ill, I was throwing up each morning, I was incredibly underweight and I was crying on a daily basis. I was miserable.  I stayed in that job because I ‘should’.  ‘It is better to get a job from a job‘ I was told, ‘You should stay there until you get another job‘.  (I didn’t even notice the should at the time!!)

The thing is, because I was in such a horrible place, I found it incredibly difficult to think and portray the real person that I was. The person that would be AMAZING to work with and bring fantastic things to the new organisation.

I was stuck in Should Land (a very dire place, kind of the polar opposite of Disney Land) and going from one should to another.  I wasn’t looking for a job that I would enjoy and thrive at, I was just looking for anything.  Anything to escape while keeping up with my should. (which was often the same kind of numbing job just in another organisation)

Don’t get me wrong, I had quite a few interviews, but never got the job.  I wasn’t really into it and I know that it will have come through in the interview as desperation rather than enthusiasm (and who wants to work with someone like that?!)

You know what?  IT SUCKED!!!

Then one day, I snapped. I had had enough and I realised that I had to break the cycle of ‘shoulds’ (no matter how nervous I was, no matter what people said to me, no matter what new ‘shoulds’ were thrown onto my back) I decided that if I was going to be able to enjoy my life I was going to do something about it.

I quit my job.  With nothing else to go to.*

*Nothing stable; I was a start-up virtual assistant with zero clients!

Yes, I had the shocked reactions.  The ‘you should haves‘ and ‘it disappoints me‘ but I was aware that these were only opinions about MY action and nothing to do with MY choice. I was instantly happier.  I had the head space and freedom to work out what I really wanted from my life.

And, to end the (short version of the) story, I found a wonderful job in charity that matched my ethos and ethics, was filled with like-minded people and was so much fun!  That was all in the space of a month. (scuppered my plans to blitz the house while I was unemployed though, but hey ho!)

So what I am getting at is that there are always going to be ‘should’ in your life and you need to recognise them for what they are – opinions from other people.  Remember that the consequences of living someone elses life (all the ‘shoulds’) is much worse that taking the leap to do something that you want to do, that excites you, scares you, but still makes you feel amazing! It is taking a lifetime ticket to live in ‘Should Land!!!


I challenge you to look at some of the things that you really dislike or are avoiding doing and work out whether they are ‘shoulds’ or something that you really want to be doing (and I don’t mean housework and chores and such like. Yes they are ‘shoulds’, but you don’t HAVE to do them)

Have you been living in Should Land for too long?


Let me know your experiences of following ‘shoulds’ in the comments below. What is your ‘should’ story?  How did it feel when you let go of the ‘shoulds’ and started living?

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11 thoughts on “Welcome to Should Land

  • April 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Oh I love this post so much. Let’s all ditch the book of shoulds. I did a long time ago (mostly). I admit there are occassions when I still do things because I should but then there’s also a bigger reason behind it. For example: I am nice to someone I really don’t like because I should be. But then I would hurt someone I care about if I wasn’t nice to this person. So I choose to do it. This is always the key for me. KNowing I always have a choice.

    • April 22, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thank you, Wendy.
      Yes, having choice is the most important thing and knowing that you can use it is even more important.

  • April 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I loved your post and it’s a wonderful reminder. I’ve also been getting rid of the should’s in my life and it’s so empowering. Yes I do still have some to work on but to be honest most of them are in the past and I guess it’s a case of letting go and forgiving myself for missing the opportunity. Thank you!

    • April 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      I’m so pleased that you found it useful, Kae. Yes, letting go is a challenge, but when it is in the past and we are unable to do anything to change it, it is better to let it go and forgiveness is all part of that journey.

  • April 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    I love this post! I am fed up of listening people saying should so it is banned in my presence! I always ask them – who says you should?

    • April 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you, Annabel. Yes, I totally agree with asking who says!

  • April 22, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Great message. Love your graphic Should Land as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • September 28, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Totally agree, we need to get rid of Should Land, a bit like Must Land. Knowing that we have a choice is such a revelation. Thanks for sharing Sarah :)

    • September 28, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Oh yes, Must Land is definitely another one that we need to escape, you’re right.

      It is making sure that everyone realises that they have a choice ad take advantage of it. It is not a good place to be when you feel suck in ‘should’ and ‘must’.


  • September 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    “Welcome to Should Land” made me laugh, it’s so true! I was in the same situation in the past with jobs I hated but persevered, because I “should”. Looking back, I SHOULD have quit, cos they made me ill, too…
    But then there are other shoulds I keep telling myself: I should do more exercise. I should eat more healthily. I should meditate more… But the situation is the same: I’m not into that. I’d rather slouch on the sofa in front of the telly with a tub of ice cream…
    Perhaps if the shoulds come from within yourself having your best interest at heart, then you might want to listen. But if they reflect what other people expect from you, then yes, learn to ditch them and start living on your own terms.
    Great article! It made me think.


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