English is a rich language, with a long history and a massive lexicon. According to Wikipedia (that highly-esteemed compendium of knowledge and wisdom), some sources cite over one million words in the English language, with new words being added at the rate of over 8,000 words per year. Naturally, with such a vast pool to draw from, some words are bound to be considered improper or, shall we say, “dirty.” Colloquially, these words are sometimes referred to as “four-letter words,” but I think the dirtiest word in our expressive vocabulary has not four letters, but six.
That word is “should.”
But why is “should” such a dirty word? The problem is that “should” allows our imagination to parade around as reality. Part of it has to do with context—when we use the word. “Should” is a word that exists in both the past and the future, but it does not exist in the present. This is a problem because the only reality is the present. The past exists only partially in our memories, and the future does not exist at all. But “should” drags the past into the present and limits the possibilities of the future.
I know this is pretty abstract stuff, so let me make it more concrete with an illustration. “I should have done that differently,” is a sentence we have all uttered in one form or another in our lives. But where is the focus on this sentence? It’s on the past. Saying something like this forces our attention onto events that have already occurred and cannot be altered. But this word, “should,” confuses us into thinking that we have the power to change what has happened. We don’t! And this leads to a failure to accept our situation.
Anyone who has sold books or built a team with the Southwestern Advantage program understands the importance of accepting your situation. It’s simply another way of focusing on the controllables (discussed in a previous three-part post). In fact, accepting your situation is so important that I would argue the only reason we ever experience stress is due to a failure to accept our situation. Stressed about that test tomorrow? Accept that you didn’t start studying soon enough and start focusing on what you can do to get the best grade possible. Stressed that your top Southwestern Advantage first year went cold? Accept that they aren’t going to work with you and get back to front-door activity. Stressed that you are living paycheck to paycheck? Accept that you have mismanaged your money and get yourself on a budget.
“Should” prevents us from taking the necessary actions to remedy the unpleasant situations we find ourselves in. When we let our thoughts and utterances be dominated by “should,” we lose our focus on the present moment and begin to dwell on the imaginary world we have created in our own heads.
So if you have recently found yourself stalled in your progress in some facet of your life, examine where “should” has crept in and put a roadblock on your forward motion. Accept that no matter how much you feel the situation “should” be a certain way, it is not that way. And then begin to find a specific action you can take to create the future you want, not the future that you “should” have.