There are certain words that will have a major detrimental impact on your success and growth, if you include them as part of your self-talk. The word “should” is right up near the absolute top of that list.

Procrastination is the slayer of visions & goals, and the word “should” is often firmly anchored in the center of procrastination.

Now be honest, how many times have you caught yourself saying “I really should phone my friend who I haven’t called in a long time”, or “I really should get round to painting the spare room”? Or at the more destructive end of the scale; “I really should look into that business idea that I’ve always wanted to pursue”, or “I really should ask for that raise at work” or “I really should call that family member who I fell out with over something trivial many years ago to straighten things out”? For most people, this is a pretty common internal dialogue.

The word “should”, is one of the most dis-empowering words you can possibly imagine. 95% of the time, the dialogue that’s happening in your subconscious mind when you use the word “should”, is; “I really should do X, but I’m not going to”. When you catch yourself using the word “should” in this context, get into the unbreakable habit of following it up with the words “so why haven’t I?”. For example:

“I really should take the rubbish down the tip – so why haven’t I?”

“I really should phone my friend and forgive them – so why haven’t I?”

“I really should take the leap and start the business that I’ve always wanted to start – so why haven’t I?”

When you ask yourself this question, you’ll normally get one of the following answers from your subconscious:

“Because I just can’t be bothered/it’s not important to me at all/I’d rather do X”

“Because it’s going to be uncomfortable/awkward/{other negative emotion}”

“Because it’s the wrong thing to do and I shouldn’t do it”

“There’s no reason”

“Because of the money/I can’t/I don’t have time/{X excuse that you tell yourself as to why you haven’t achieved your goals}

“Because it’s terrifying”

Let’s look at each of these one by one:

1. If it’s not important to you in any way at all and you literally don’t care, then cross it off the list and forget about it for good. Don’t waste your time doing things that will genuinely have zero impact on your quality of life, happiness, or won’t help you move forwards in any way whatsoever.

On the other hand if it’s something that you don’t care about but you NEED to do it (Your spouse keeps moaning at you to paint the shed for example), then just get it done and out the way. If you’re going to have to do it at some point, you might as well do it now. There’s no point leaving unnecessary friction between the two of you, because that’s only going to have a detrimental effect on your relationship in the long run.

2. If it’s going to be uncomfortable but the outcome is something that you desire, then suck it up, and get it done. You must often be prepared to go through a short period of effort/disomfort, to reach a rich and fulfilling outcome.

Get into the habit of recognising that a period of discomfort that stands between you and a desired outcome, is an opportunity for you to become a stronger person and grow as you break through it to get closer to the life that you desire. Be grateful for these situations, because without them we wouldn’t be able to improve who we are and work towards our vision for the future.

3. Listen to your subconscious. If it’s the wrong thing to do (Whether ethically, legally, morally, or because it really doesn’t sit right with who you are as a person), then don’t do it. Look for an alternative way to do whatever it is that you need to do without sacrficing yourself (There will usually be several alternatives when you look at it objectively and take emotion out of the equation), or let whatever it is go. If it’s going to harm you in some way, then don’t do it.

4. If there’s no reason at all, then do it right now or schedule it in for a specific time – and stick to it! Take action instead of procrastinating.

5. This is very important. If you have a reason that you tell yourself as to why you haven’t achieved your goals, then ask yourself one very simple question. “Has someone else, somewhere in the world, achieved a similar thing but from even less fortunate circumstances than myself?”. I’ll tell you now that every single time, the answer will be yes. And if someone else has done it, you can do it.

Money will not hold you back. Time will not hold you back. Whatever reason that you are telling yourself as to why you haven’t done it, will not hold you back – IF you want it badly enough. If you need more money, do not say to yourself “I can’t do it because I don’t have the money”. First, ask yourself whether others have started with no money but achieved it anyway. The answer will be yes, so then you need to ask yourself “How do I get the money?”.

Anything is possible if you want it badly enough. Do not take no for an answer, do not tell yourself that you can’t do something, and above all do not ever give up on the life that you want to create for yourself, because of an obstacle that others have already proven can be overcome. Never give up.

6. I’ve kept this one separate from feelings of general discomfort, because fear will stop people taking action more than anything else. “Should” backed by fear, is the number one biggest reason why so many procrastinate, and never pursue their goals and vision. So, if you say to yourself “I really should do X – so why haven’t I?” and the answer is “because I feel fear/I’m scared/I’m terrified/what if it goes wrong”, then you need to then ask yourself:

“What would I do if I was 10 times bolder?” 

Think about that. If you felt no fear, what would you do? If the fear was gone, would you already be following that path? Would you already be taking action? If the answer is yes, then you must, I repeat MUST, face that fear head on and take action anyway. Fear is an imaginary concept produced by your subconscious. It’s just an emotion, it is not a real thing. ‘Fear of starting a business’ isn’t going to materialize out of thin air as a monster, and rip your head off if you get things wrong.

Have you ever overcome the feeling of being demotivated, but got things done anyway? Have you ever overcome the feeling of being skeptical or unsure, but got things done anyway? Have you ever overcome the feeling of others doubting you, but got things done anyway? I’m pretty sure most people have done all of these at some point, so what’s the difference with fear? It’s still just an emotion, so why is it ruling you?

To put this in perspective, if you’ve ever overcome the PHYSICAL effects of being ill, but got things done anyway, then that’s a hell of a lot worse than fear. If you’ve worked while you’re savagely ill, then you already have more than what it takes to overcome fear.

Fear can be paralyzing if you let it, and fear of fear itself will often cause people to live their lives trapped in tiny metaphorical boxes, never having the opportunity to discover who they really are and what they’re capable of.

And let me point out the real killer; if you don’t face fear but instead you let it sit in the back of your mind while all the time you tell yourself that you “should” take action but do nothing about it, that fear will transform into anxiety.

Nothing will destroy you as a person, more effectively than anxiety. Anxiety will gnaw at your soul, it will plague everything about you and infect every other thing that you do, it will eat away at the back of your mind and crush you down under an invisible weight that gets heavier and heavier over time if you let it.

The only way to KILL anxiety, is with MASSIVE ACTION. If you find yourself in a situation where anxiety is starting to take hold of you, you must kill it now. You must be decisive, and you must take action. A leader is decisive, and in any given situation it is ALWAYS better to know one way or the other, than to not know at all.

If you’re fearful of making the wrong choice, then make a choice and take action anyway. If it’s wrong, you can correct it afterwards. If you do not take action, you will not know, and nothing will happen except your own destruction at the hands of anxiety. Do not ever let that happen.

Why you should remove the word "should" from your vocabulary

So hopefully this makes my views on the word “should” in this context, pretty clear 🙂

Once I discovered this alternative way of thinking, my income, my happiness, and everything about my life drastically started improving in absolutely no time at all. I no longer wait months before making a choice, I make the choice today, and then tomorrow is free to make the next choice. I’m in charge of my life now, and I hope that this message is as powerful for you, as it has been for me.
To your success,

Dan Holloway

Why you should remove the word "should" from your vocabulary