Find the want-to beyond “should.”

June has already been a watershed month for me. Within the space of three days in the first week of the month, I finally shifted beyond “I know I should be exercising. I need to. But …”

Have you been here, too? Maybe it’s been exercise for you, too, or some other form of self care.

Maybe you “should”:

  • be more focused on your job search.
  • be networking.
  • quit smoking.
  • ask somebody out.
  • be reading a book.

Can I just say this? Life is hard. Current events are pretty much always depressing. We don’t have enough help at work. We aren’t getting paid enough. And everything costs too much. And we aren’t appreciated for what we DO. And onto all this discouragement we layer on all this stuff we “should” do.

Is it any wonder Netflix has been so successful? It’s one thing that’s easy.

But when you click the TV off, the list of “shoulds” are all still there, and right along with them are the list of helpful apps and advice sites ready to help you get your life together and finally do something for a change.

You really should look at one of them, right?

That’s exactly where I was on June 1. I knew I had lost my fitness “ground,” and I was afraid of starting up again.

“I’ll only quit again,” I thought. “I never stick with it.”

I heard my husband offer up one of these “shoulds” for himself around that time–“I really should do that core workout plan again…”

On Saturday, June 4, I spent a couple of hours in the garden. That sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. It was hard work. By the time I was done with those two hours, I could barely stand. I spent the rest of the day in bed. I thought, “Ut oh. This isn’t good.”

On Monday, June 6, I presented on the subject of personal energy management to a group of 30 professionals in Dublin, Ohio. Leading up to that presentation I was becoming extremely aware of what I wasn’t doing for my physical energy management, and between the presentation itself and the hours afterwards I felt such a crisis of integrity — I thought, “This really isn’t good.”

On Tuesday, June 7, I spent the day volunteering. By noon I was brain-dead and saying things that later made me do a “facepalm” — how could I think that was the right thing to say?  And I knew (because I’d just presented on the subject) that physical energy, strength, resilience, and endurance are foundational to mental focus.

I thought, “This is just bad. This has to change.”

I gave myself Wednesday to recover, but I talked to hubby. “Thursday morning, can we start the core workout together?” He groaned and said “yes.” We talked about what exactly this would look like — how we would make it work.

And we did it.

Friday I got on the treadmill and tried to see what I could do in 20 minutes. It was sad, but it was a start. I decided the following Monday I would start using the Couch to 5K program. And, I did.

I am now starting to feel the effects of getting going. It’s like the laces that tie my skeleton together are being pulled, and things are finally coming together after being too loose for too long.

And I do like the feeling.

I’m also noticing more ideas, more creativity, and (generally speaking) more active thought processes. It’s good to have my brain back, too.

Rock Bottom is a Beautiful Start
Image stolen outright from Evolutions Treatment Centers — see

What this reminds me of is that idea of ‘hitting bottom.’ In the recovery world, there’s an idea that someone will only seek help when they’ve hit rock bottom. I guess that’s what happened with me. I finally got to a point where I could FEEL how much I needed a change.

In the pilot Think in Ink guided-journaling program that started May 16 and will be finishing June 27, we have been exploring our lives — past, present, and future. We spent a week diving into our immunity to change. I discovered that I had a big assumption that doing exercise on a regular basis was going to eat up all my free time. I assumed that I could give myself the gift of spaciousness in my schedule by skipping exercise.

There are all kinds of big assumptions that hold us back. Maybe you assume:

  • you’ll be more financially secure in the long run if you don’t spend money on _____ (pursuing your goal).
  • you’ll never actually meet someone who can help you.
  • failure (or rejection) is so painful that it means trying isn’t worth it.
  • the effort is only a cost — you won’t get enough of a reward.

When you discover your “big assumption,” the next task is to design an experiment: What’s a safe, modest, actionable experiment that you could try to test whether or not this assumption is really accurate?

My experiment was to try out exercise for a couple of weeks, fitting it in at a time when hubby was willing to join or otherwise support me, and see if it really ate up my schedule as much as I assumed it would.

Long story short, I’m not watching quite as much Stephen Colbert on YouTube as I had been. And I guess that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make so I can have this feeling that I’m not so loosely connected. So I can have my brain back.

And sharing this commitment with you is part of my accountability. Please ask me how it’s going if you see me.

What is holding you back from what you know you “should” do?  Is it a fear of failure or something even bigger? What’s one thing you can do for yourself — one step you can take — today?

Learn more about immunity to change from the experts.
Request a copy of the article by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

Bottom Line: Most of us walk around with a sense of something we would be doing if we were living our lives right. And, most of us won’t make the change because we are wired to keep doing the same old thing, living the status quo.

However, we can get ourselves past the “should” and into working for ourselves instead of against ourselves. Maybe it means hitting rock bottom. Maybe it means identifying our big assumptions and challenging those. It definitely means being willing to try even when it’s possible to fail.

What about you? What has it taken for you to get back in the game? Leave me a comment below!


6 thoughts on “Find the want-to beyond “should.”

  1. Nice article, Amy. I especially like the idea of experimenting. That is a way to test out our interests prior to making a large commitment.

    1. Oh yeah, experiments are a huge help. Any time I work with a client who has a big goal we design experiments to figure out how to get there. Our first plan isn’t always the winner!

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