New Year’s Resolutions: Why Doing Things Because You “Should” Won’t Change a Thing

Dear Marissa,

What advice do you have for someone that has a history of making resolutions and not keeping them?  There are so many things that I should be doing, but every year, I struggle to actual get it done.




Dear “Desperate”you should not eat

So often in my coaching practice with corporate, small business and nonprofit professionals, I hear clients talking about things that they “should” be doing…

  • I really should be better about my time management.
  • I should just stop procrastinating and get it done.
  • I should have said something, but I didn’t.

My reply to these statements is almost always the same, “and how’s that ‘shoulda’ working out for you”?

Jarring isn’t it?  I know.

Don’t worry, I’m actually pretty harmless as a coach, and don’t typically use confrontation as a strategy to throw my clients off, but I do hold them accountable for achieving what they say they want in life.

It pains me to see people beat themselves up over something that’s completely within their control to change, or to release, at will.

The reality is that doing something, especially something that we don’t want to do, because we “should” do it, simply doesn’t work.

Let’s be real, just because we “SHOULD” do it, doesn’t mean we WILL do it.

As free-willed adults, there simply isn’t enough incentive in the power of “should” to translate into acticalculator with receipton.

Take me for example. 

I used to be an extreme workaholic, frequently quoted as making the following “should-isms”:

  • I “should” do a better job of taking care of myself.
  • I “should” spend more time with my family.
  • I “should” have a better social life.

But did I do anything about it, NOPE.  Not for many, many years.

Career building was my goal at the time, and in exchange for that goal, I ate, slept and breathed, work.

The result?  Frustration in my budding career, poor health, a deteriorating family life and isolation in my personal life.  Not exactly my idea of abundant living!

That’s when my motivation changed; and my, “I shoulds”, became “I will”.

My health was declining at a ridiculously young age.  I suffered from debilitating migraines on a regular basis, gained nearly a hundred pounds and was diagnosed with hypertension.  In contrast to this, because I’d lost some dear loved ones prematurely, I had a heart’s desire to have a large family and be a part of my great, great grandchildren’s lives (side note, I’m not “grandmother” age just yet ;-).

As I assessed my reality, I knew that I needed to do more than “should” take care of myself.

I needed that should to convert to action!

With the motivation of family and longevity in mind, I was able to attach goals and action steps to what I “should” do, and that has translated into real results!

When you find yourself repeating a cycle that you’re displeased with, get to the root or motivation of it and there you will find progress.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is it about this issue that has me stuck?
  2. What am I gaining by not taking action here?
  3. What is the end result that I really want?
  4. What am I prepared to do about this?

Remember that progress can mean completing the task, amending it or deciding that you’re no longer going to pressure yourself about it because the motivation behind it is not worth it afterall.

What’s most important is that you understand what’s behind the “shoulds” you’re placing on yourself so that you can do something about them once and for all.

What do you think?


By | 2018-01-31T13:37:31-06:00 January 6th, 2014|Online Advice, Work/Life Balance|Comments Off on New Year’s Resolutions: Why Doing Things Because You “Should” Won’t Change a Thing