What do you Think You Should that you Could be Doing?

As a life designer, I spend considerable time building my business, both staying in contact with current and potential clients, and reaching out to people who might become or refer me to new ones.

This morning I was reviewing some of my marketing activities, and over lunch I casually asked my boyfriend if thought there was anything else I should be doing. He answered, “no, other than blogging.” Normally, I’m very wary of that five letter word “should,” especially when it comes out of other people’s mouths in regard to me and what I do with my life.

My well-trained and true to my breed life coachy response is almost automatically to question the source, the truth and the helpfulness of any words that follow s-h-o-u-l-d. In fact, I often go to great lengths to avoid “shoulding” on myself and others, using careful and delicate phrases like “you might consider” and “have you thought about” instead.

When it comes to things I “should” do for myself, I am similarly skeptical, and frequently find that with closer analysis, the very thing I tell myself I should be doing would benefit from my doing just the opposite. For example, telling myself I should be working when what I really need is a nap.

Today I was fully prepared to find (and in fact rather looking forward to the idea of finding) a reason why “I should be blogging” was faulty. The source was me, the truth was, it’s a terrific business tool, and the helpfulness is that this realization could save others from the excuse that “shoulding” is always a useless construct.

Today’s insight for me, my friends, was realizing that sometimes it’s time to stop “shoulding” and get on the spot. What “shoulds” are YOU tired of hearing yourself talk about that you could be doing, starting right now?

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How To Get What You Want (Even if it’s not what you expect)

My ex-husband used to tease me about my “unrealistic” expectations. He would sing, with a nursery rhyme cadence, ‘Deborah’s world, Deborah’s world, there are no lines in Deborah’s world.” Or traffic jams, or sold out tickets, or uncrackable social networks, or barriers to employment. I would optimistically move ahead, heedless of the obstacles, the massive stone truth about “the way the world really works.” I didn’t know then, not consciously, that my very approach was opening the doors of possibility. That it wasn’t about wishful thinking, denial, or Pollyanna cheerfulness.

How do I know this? If I did find myself stuck in traffic, turned away at the door, getting no response, or any other “proof” that my world view was somehow flawed, I wasn’t particularly disappointed. In fact, I’d take it as a sign. I obviously wasn’t meant to get there, make that connection, have that experience or obtain that thing. How fortunate to have that clarified by reality!

Now all I needed was to adjust my current plan, find another joy in the moment, look for the lesson or sometimes, enjoy the small miracle that expecting the (seemingly) unlikely outcome that expecting what I really wants provides.

Simple formula: I expect to get what I want, then I want what I get. It’s fail-safe. Sometimes you get what you want and expect, but other times you can get what you want even when it’s not what you expect. Just ask yourself: What do I want to make of this moment? How is this an opportunity to transmute the unexpected into something valuable? THIS moment; the one you’re in. It’s all you’ve got, and it is ALWAYS plump and juicy and bursting with the seeds of anything.

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What’s The Gift You Are Today?

My clients often struggle with what they “should” be doing with their lives. What’s the best direction for their career, the best decision for their relationship, the answer to their one true calling? News flash: That thing you’re supposed to do is not somewhere “out there;” the perfect choice if only you could locate it somehow. Many people believe the myth that making the right decision is a puzzle to be solved, a treasure to be discovered, a formula to be applied, a prize that comes with the comfort of righteousness and security and social affirmation.

I’m here today to share a liberating idea (at least it was for me). That thing you want to find, that right choice, is not out there at all. There is no “should.” There IS the connection with the moment your heart opens and you know this is something you want to TRY. To investigate, to experience, to be with, right now. I’ll give you a personal example. I’ve been “officially” life coaching for over a year now, and I know — in a completely peaceful, aligned, gut level knowing, that this is what I want to be doing right now. That regardless of what my later career or financial success might look like, I’ll be satisfied knowing that I gave this experience everything I had to give. Not in a desperate this has to work or it will prove I’m a worthless slug who has run down another dead end path kind of way. In more like a this is part of the gift I am to the world right now kind of way. What is part of the gift you are to the world today?

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Going Into Your Closet: How to Spot What Isn’t Suiting You

The contents of our closets can be mirrors of our inner selves. Maybe your inner self is as clear as your patent leather pumps or as stuffed with useless crap as your set of shelves. Just for fun, let’s see what you’ve got.

1) Take a pen and pad, and start on one side of the rod (stacks, or wherever you want).

2) Consider each item. Write down the first thought(s) that come into your head, and how you feel when you see it. For example, you might see a sweater and think “I never really liked this color, but my sister gave it to me for my birthday last year” and the feeling might be guilt, or “I can’t wait to wear this dress again” and the feeling might be excitement.

3) Continue down the line until you get itchy to start analyzing your findings.

4) Read the statements below and see if the shoe (shirt, pants, whatever) fits.

I loved these ___ (parachute pants from the 80s, shoes with the little anchors on them), or its evil twin: “What was I thinking when I bought that___(chain mail poncho, lace raincoat)?”

Spending too much energy looking back (with nostalgia or by second-guessing) can get in the way of living fully today. If you find yourself hanging on to items that have outlived their usefulness, ask yourself:

What am I hanging on to – a relationship, an activity, a belief – that no longer works for me? What am I afraid of losing if I let it go?

How can I honor this part of my life in a way that still serves me?

Where in my life am I hanging on to regret?

I can wear this as soon as I ___ (have it shortened, lose 20 pounds).”

Intention without action is the road to… nowhere. What do you really want? What are you willing to do right now to take a step in that direction, even a tiny one? If the answer is nothing, then it might be time to get rid of that intention, since it’s honestly just taking up space in your consciousness.

If you find yourself wanting want to keep things that require action on your part, ask yourself:

What am I telling myself I want in my life but making excuses for not creating?

If I’m not willing to take action right now, what can I discard?

I could use this if I ever ___ (need to dress up as a milkmaid, move to the arctic)?”

Yes, the possibilities are endless, but so is the energy you’ll waste trying to prepare for a future that doesn’t exist. If you find yourself stockpiling “just in case,” ask yourself:

Where am I wasting energy on things that I can’t predict or control?

Where in my life am I not living in the present?

That’s a perfectly good ___(business suit, pair of tights). ”

The job feels secure, the routine familiar, the relationship comfortable. There are countless arguments to keep your “perfectly good” life exactly as it is. But are you living the life that’s right for you? If you’re keeping it out of guilt or obligation, ask yourself:

What (thing, activity, commitment, etc.) am I rationalizing in my life that isn’t serving who I am today?

Where in my life am I settling for less or making do?

Whose voices am I hearing when I’m faced with decisions for my life?

Maybe you had some laughter (or horror) of recognition here . Or maybe you fondly flipped through a rod full of pieces that delight you. If so, your reflected self is looking pretty clean and clear!

If not, it may be time to do some clearing out. Here’s my suggestion for the stuff in your closet (metaphorical or material): Keep what serves you best right now so you’ll have room for what serves you best when every right now comes!

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