Friday afternoon was not much crazier than most afternoons.

My husband was mowing the lawn, my daughter was hangry and my youngest son was due to be in a talent show in twenty minutes.

I stood in the kitchen—where it seemed like I’d been for an hour—trying to motivate my family to eat dinner and get ready to go.

“Get dressed, Jude. Make sure you eat something.”

“Dean, do you want a slice of pizza before we leave?” I screamed over the lawn mower.

“Maeve, are you going to the optional soccer practice or the talent show? You need to decide NOW!”

No one listened.

So I dared to do things differently.

I leashed the dog and headed out the door.

The first five minutes of my walk was a much-needed relief. But then my pace quickened as I realized what I’d done—left them to fend for themselves.

I should go back and help them get ready.

I should tell them they only have 15 minutes.

I should nudge them so they’re not late.

I hear this “should” from women all the time:

  • I should pack my kids’ lunch instead of going to the gym.
  • I should straighten up the house instead of taking a nap.
  • I should stay in the job instead of taking the one I really want.
  • I should go to the PTA meeting instead of having wine with a friend.

Don’t get me wrong, both options are worthy. And we all know it’s good and healthy to care about other people’s thoughts and feelings. But when we base most of our decisions on what we should do instead of what we want to do, we’re left with a life full of SHOULDS.

And here’s more food for thought: many times, the reasons for these SHOULDS aren’t based on fact—we mentally create them. Yep, they’re stories we’ve made up.

I should make lunch for my kids because if they make it, it won’t be healthy and they’ll die. Will they?

I should straighten the house because my family will be upset. Or will I?

I should stay in the job because I’ll disappoint my boss. Won’t she get over it?

I should go to the PTA meeting because that’s my duty as a mom. Isn’t there one next month too?

I should go back and help my family get ready for the talent show. Don’t they know what to do?

So, this is what I need you to know: you’re allowed to not always be there. 

Your true life—your butt-kicking, dream-inspired life will unfold when you begin to throw out the SHOULDS and begin focusing on your MUSTS. 

What are you waiting for?

Carly Hamilton-Jones

Carly Hamilton-Jones is a certified life coach who helps busy women re-evaluate their to-do lists, refocus their lives and feel empowered to do what they want in life. She offers a wide range of individual and group coaching programs and has over 15 years of experience empowering women to transform their lives with confidence.