Putting your “wants” before “shoulds”

Want vs. Should

“Because so much of our behavior is driven by ‘should,’ we are losing our ability to distinguish what we really ‘want.’ We have been taught what we ‘should’ want, but no longer know what we actually want, and often confuse the two. Out of touch with our own ‘wanting,’ we have lost a sense of intimacy with ourselves. We know who we are supposed to be, but not who we are.” – Nancy Collier

Two weeks ago, at Vision Quest (our company retreat), each member of the Proof team established and committed to individual goals, sketching out step-by-step paths to achievement. We had a chunk of time to determine them, allowing us to muse on what we really wanted to refine for ourselves and, ultimately, contribute to the team.

The hardest part of that exercise? Claiming “the want”.

Our existence is filled with opportunities to change course, dream dreams, and, subsequently, achieve them. The uncomfortable clencher? It’s also finite — we only have so much time. And even in earnest attempts to “get better”, we often pile on more complications than we realize by seeking out the things we think we should.

Obviously, not everything we do in our work (and, of course, our lives in general) is linked to what we want. Therapist/author/speaker Nancy Collier gave perspective to “shoulding yourself” (a kind of self-help buzzword originally credited to author/therapist Clayton Barbeau) in a recent Huffington Post article:

“There are things we do in life strictly because we ‘should,’ and some are very important. I am not suggesting that we stop being responsible adults…We can take good care of ourselves, and honor the wisdom and strength of our discernment — to choose to do something even when we simultaneously do not want to do it.”

Sometimes “shoulds” are just part of the job. Type B personalities have to perform Type A tasks and vice versa, introverts have to function in an extrovert landscape — we all have our own red tape, inevitable and unable to ignore.

However, recognizing the difference between “shoulds” and “wants” are paramount in determining tangible goals that mean something to you. The reason our team had time to think about individual goals, was because they were meant to be composed of our own wills — an incredibly powerful ingredient to success. “Shoulds” might sound comfortably familiar, but in the end, it’s like buying an overused print to hang on the wall. “Wants” are the beginning of an original work of art — an unknown that only you can create.

When thinking about your own goals, let your “wants” lead the way.

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