Shedding the Weight of 'Should' Goals

Jan 17, 2024
woman in white dress with hat pulling a heavy yellow suitcase up a wide flight of stairs

Breaking Free: The Weight of "Should" Goals

Have you ever found yourself wrestling with a goal that feels more like a burden than a pursuit? Some goals carry weight—not the weight of anticipation or ambition, but the heavy load of "shoulds."

Why Should Goals Fail

Should goals become more of a checklist than a journey toward an anticipated end result. They quickly morph from inspired aspirations to guilt-inducing obligations. They create a barricade between you and achievement, flooding doubts, judgments, and fears. Instead of propelling you forward, they lock you in a cycle of self-criticism that can lead to avoiding the goal all together.

Do I Have a 'Should' Goal? 

You may have a 'should' goal if you:

  • find yourself in a tug of war between wanting to achieve the goal and doubting you can
  • question even wanting the goal
  • set this goal every year but have never gone "all in" on achieving it
  • answer the question, "Why do I want this" with "because I should" or some flavor of this i.e. supposed to, need to, have to
  • spend more energy thinking about the goal than on accomplishing the goal

What to do?

If you're caught in a constant struggle between wanting a goal and doubting your capability or questioning whether you even desire it, it might be time for a reevaluation. This can take the form of a break or a complete release of the goal.  Take a cue from my client, Lynne, who vividly contrasts two goals: one she's bound to achieve and another that burdens her with self-judgment and societal pressures.

The weight goal, as Lynne describes it, is more about societal expectations and past judgments than her own well-being. It's rooted in "shoulds" rather than genuine desire. Recognizing this, she made the conscious choice to release this goal, at least for now, and put her energy towards the goal that truly resonated with her—the "All In" goal.

The "All In" Goal: A Singular Focus and Cascading Effect

An "All In" goal doesn't mean you can't have multiple goals—it's about prioritizing one major aspiration. It's a powerful choice that not only directs your focus and energy but also cascades positive effects into other aspects of your life.  

When Lynne released her 'should' goal, she also released the energy drain caused by the subsequent "should" mentality. She released the judgment and pressure that came from this goal that had become more of a burden than an objective.  This alone created relief and a lightness in her which she then used to focus on her one "all in" goal; not only boosting her motivation but also unexpectedly creating improvements in other areas of her life.

My invitation to you:

Revisit and Revise: Take a closer look at your goals. Identify the "shoulds" that weigh them down. Decide whether they need a break or should be altogether relinquished.

Choose Your Focus: Embrace an "All In" goal—one that resonates with you deeply. Channel your energy and attention towards it.

Watch the Ripples: Be open to the positive effects of this focus in other areas of your life. A singular pursuit can often open doors and spark positive changes elsewhere.

Let's shift from goals we "should" pursue to those that truly ignite passion and drive. It's time to shed the unnecessary weight and pressure that "should" adds and put focus on what truly resonates with who you are and where you want to go.

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