3 ideas that have helped me abolish “should”


I'm approaching two years of being self-employed and I find myself reflecting on what I've learned during this time. Or rather, all that I've had to unlearn.

In being the master of my own time, I have had to let go of a lot of my conditioning around how things "should" be done. In fact, I've tried to banish the word "should" from my vocabulary completely. In my experience, there is simply only what works for you and what doesn't work for you.

I've also learned that there is no definitive. As someone who loves variety and often feels stifled by monotony, I've enjoyed experimenting with different routines. Whether it be working over the weekend and taking week days off or, working from dawn and finishing in the early afternoon, I am yet to settle on something that is optimal for me. I find it easier to focus on long stretches of creative work when the rest of the world is sleeping so I am usually most productive between 11pm and 9am. However, communication is a big part of my work and as such, I need to be available, to a great extent, during the "typical" work day. It's a balance that I have not yet totally cracked but that I am closer to doing so, with each day and each experiment in doing things differently.

These explorations have taught me a few things that you might find to be helpful too:

Accept yourself
I've learned a lot about myself. Or rather, I've embraced a lot of self-knowledge that I previously fought or turned a blind eye to. I'm wise to my self-sabotaging tricks which means that I'm more effective at overcoming them. I appreciate that pretending they do not exist does not help me in anyway.

Go with the flow
And sometimes self preservation dresses itself up as self-sabotage. When I feel low on motivation and procrastination is my best friend, I realize that it's actually my subconscious alerting me that:

  • I need a break or even a more substantial rest;
  • I'm going down the wrong path with what I'm doing or approaching it in an ineffective way, or;
  • I'm losing sight o the bigger picture and the life that I want to lead.

So I try to shake off what I feel obliged to do and instead lean into the distractions. Oftentimes, they lead me back to a sense of purpose and a renewed enthusiasm for (doing) what I love.

Go with your flow
Yes, this is a point distinct from those above but somewhat a combination of them. In accepting yourself, you free yourself to go with you flow. To appreciate your idiosyncrasies and trust that they exist to help, not hinder you. 

It's 3am as I write this and I'm inspired by a memory from over 10 years ago. I have always loved to write. As a child, when hit with a burning story idea, I would stay up all night if necessary, to get it down and out of my imagination. Immersed in the worlds I was creating, I would lose all track of time. I think this is what people refer to when they speak of flow. Earlier this week, I found myself inspired to work on some client projects at 1am. I ended up going to bed after 7am! That was possibly the most productive period I had all week and it had me seriously considering making that my daily routine. I'm not decided yet but I have decided to not feel guilty about exploring unusual ways of doing things. Afterall, if it works for me, increases my productivity and consequentially my joy – what's the negative?

I post these thoughts here in the spirit of re-imagining ways to live our lives. Ways that make us happier, healthier and bring more value to our communities. Ways that are our own and not inherited from others' ideas of how we should be. And that starts on the individual level. As I always affirm, it all starts with the self.

2 thoughts on “3 ideas that have helped me abolish “should””

  1. Hi Afri-Love I have been reading your blog for a while now and I have finally decided to comment on one of your many wonderful posts as it has hit home for me!
    The sentence (Ways that are our own and not inherited from others’ ideas of how we should be. And that starts on the individual level. As I always affirm, it all starts with the self)
    This is how I have felt since 2 months ago and as each day goes by that new self grows stronger and stronger and I no longer desire to go back to my old conditioned self.
    I try to live for the NOW, and plan for the future without pondering on whether my plans will happen or not because if I do then I loose LIVING IN THE MOMENT AND GOING WITH THE FLOW. I must say since I have embraced this new self I have been BLOODY HAPPY AND AT PEACE WITH MYSELF AND MY LIFE (flaws and all).
    In short thank you for sharing your experiences!

  2. Hi Tediloc, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s so encouraging to hear about other people’s journeys and to know that starting with the self is truly working for others too. That way, when those moments when self-doubt sneak in, it’ll be easier to keep my eye on the bigger picture.
    Thanks for reading – I’m happy that you enjoy the blog. Keep sharing 🙂

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