The "shoulds" make you boring.

 

The biggest question looming over 20 somethings these days (and always) seems to be frustratingly unanswerable: what should I do with my life? We look in books, podcasts, to our mentors, our parents, workshops...all in the hopes that what we "should" be doing will jump out at us and make itself known.

I argue that what you "should" do isn't the question. The more important inquiry to understand is: how do I make my major life decisions? 

Do you make choices based on what you think you "should" do, or what you're excited about doing? Are your choices coming from a place of instilled responsibility, or alignment with your ultimate vision for your life?

In coaching, we often talk about the dreaded "shoulds," the social conventions we all grew up accepting and believing as truth. The "shoulds" vary across time and cultures, but they generally serve to teach us how to be contributing members of our society. We should go to school, get a job, have a family. We should save up for emergencies, we should be rational, we should focus more on what makes us money than what brings us joy. We should exercise, we should eat well, we should help one another. The "shoulds" can be incredibly valuable, especially when we're unsure about where to go next. These conventions show us a path, telling us exactly where to place our foot next. Right foot, responsibility. Left foot, hard work. 

The problem with the "shoulds" is that far too often we forget that they're nothing more than a framework. They're the canvas on which we create our lives, and our personal choices and off path wanderings are the paint. Nothing original has ever been created by following a formula; this also means that nothing original has ever been created in a cocoon of total safety and comfort. Simply put, only following the "shoulds" makes you and your life incredibly boring.

You don't need to reject every "should" tomorrow, but I encourage you to ask yourself which "shoulds" you're currently embracing. Are they serving you in living your original, once in a lifetime, unforgettable iteration of your life? Or are you acting as you "should" and walking unconsciously through your days? If that's the case, I dare you to shed a "should" or two. When you reject constant comfort and embrace a bit of daring, magical things start to happen.  

 

The power of routine

 
This post details the power of routine in building a life that you love. The post also contains a link to download "Reclaim your AM," a planning guide to creating a morning routine that benefits you.

Establishing a routine and following it isn't easy: but it WILL reap major results.

I'm 28 and just starting to embrace routine. I've been rebellious and reallllly stubborn most of my life, and resisted calendars and schedules because I felt suffocated. I recently decided that whatever I was doing wasn't working-I had no time for myself, and always felt exhausted and pulled in a million directions. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a scheduled routine. 

 

I was as shocked as you are at the immense relief I felt and the way it changed my life. 

Now, I rise at 7 am for some yoga, coffee, reading and mindset work. I get to breathe in the first morning light right alongside my pup, and we get lots of bonding and cuddle time. I also have enough time to get ready for the day, which is critical to my sanity since I work from home. By beginning my morning in this way, rather than snoozing until my first meeting, I'm able to settle into my work calmly and energized when 9 am rolls around. Side note: No, I'm not perfect. Every day doesn't start this way - but the ones that do feel that much more magical.

Evenings have their vibes, which for me is much more flexible. I do try to end and begin the day with a book, rather than my phone, and I take a few moments to use my favorite face oil and slip into my most comfortable pajamas. 

What have I learned? If you are able to organize your day around your routine, you'll be better prepped for anything the Universe sends your way. Whether your routine is simple or complex, let yourself dive into the ritual. The act of doing can be peaceful in itself, and a source of calm continuity when life can so often feel volatile.

Going into your morning or evening routine with the right attitude is everything. Don't see this as another to-do on your never-ending list. Instead, learn to value this time as unapologetically yours, and relish every moment. It certainly makes getting up a few minutes earlier much easier to bear! On that note, if you're not into it, don't try to force it in your routine. Going to the gym has never worked at getting me out of bed in the morning. Books? Absolutely. 

 

Tell me in the comments: what does your routine look like?