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Shut Out the “Shoulds” — and STILL CRUSH IT in Business and in Life

What We “Should” Do

Confession: I never want to get out of bed in the morning. Not when it’s the first day of vacation, not when I smell breakfast in the other room, not for any reason, really.

I have no excuses or theories about why — that’s just the way it is.

I may go to bed feeling super positive at night, but without fail, in the morning I feel so mad at the world that I do not want to get up.

And if you think that sounds bad, would you believe me if I told you that it used to be a lot worse? I used to lay there for sometimes more than an hour in the morning just stewing… totally at war with myself over what I should be thinking. or feeling, or doing differently.

I should be getting up at 4:30 like so-and-so.

I should be more motivated.

I should have gotten so much done by now.

All those shoulds left me feeling defeated and guilty in the very first hour of my day… but something has changed since those dark days: My thoughts have shifted. My mindset has changed.

While I still never want to get out of bed or feel like getting out of bed in the morning, I’ve stopped caring about all the “shoulds.” In fact, I’ve totally shut out the shoulds. I don’t care what anyone else is doing or has been doing since 4:30; I do things my way now. If I feel like doing work in bed, I’m going to. If I feel like reading my book in bed instead of out on the porch with the fancy cup of tea, I will. I will motivate myself!

What I’ve learned from building multiple successful businesses online — even while spending a lot of time in bed! — is that there is no one right way to get things done. You don’t have to do all the things everyone else is doing to be successful… especially if you hate it and it doesn’t make you feel true to yourself.

(Make sure you subscribe to this channel! Lots more hilarious but true nuggets of wisdom where this one came from! :-))

Now… that doesn’t mean you never have to just suck it up and do things you don’t like, but my point here is that you can break loads of other people’s rules and still be successful. My own success has absolutely proven that, so I want to empower you in your own life by saying that there’s no reason you can’t find your version of success by getting things done in a way that works for you.

You gotta LOVE yourself where you are and work with what you’ve got.

Find something that works for you and shut out the shoulds.

Your Turn!

What “shoulds” are you shutting out? How are you meeting yourself where you are to find success in your own way? Share in the comments!

Ready to get motivated on your proofreading journey? You can check out our FREE proofreading workshop, our FREE beginner eBook, or our transcript proofreading course!

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  1. Caitlin, I think you are secretly tapping into my brain…! Your posts are always spot on, and seem perfectly timed to arrive just when I need a nudge to stay focused on–what else?–refocusing my overactive brain! Back to my PA studies.
    Cheers, Amy

    1. Haha!! That’s funny to hear 😉 My brain has been so overactive the last few days. So focused on getting from A to B sometimes that I forget to enjoy everything that happens in between 😀

  2. Hi Caitlyn!

    So I’m feeling so like that right now! I should have a super organized, super neat, super beautiful schedule, and I should have it all figured out by now (and I should probably be out of my pijamas :p

    So thank you for this amazing post.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Caitlin. I’ve also struggled with being a slave of “should” and constantly comparing myself to others. It is absolutely draining, toxic, and no way to live. But, thankfully, I can say that I’ve made progress in this area of being my authentic self, and I’m so much happier because of it. Your story is further encouragement along the journey. Thanks again!

    1. So glad to be on this journey with you, Keisa!!! 😀 Even from far far away, I can see you are definitely a happy person now!! Love it.

    2. I am currently living with my parents since I have separated from my husband. This has been trying on me because my mother has her own ideas of what I should be doing. I have my own ways and try to stay true to myself, even if it means standing up to her. My ways tend to be criticized by her and my dad. I have tried to get them to read a transcript to see what I am doing; I don’t think they have yet. I take it one day at a time!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I so needed to hear this! I was JUST berating myself for not being more organized and feeling the weight of the “shoulds”- I should be getting up earlier, I should have more done, I shouldn’t be tired, I should be able to push through the fatigue/fog/pain (slowly recovering from a fall since December)…should, should, should.

    When I read your email, it really clicked-the bottom line was I didn’t like who I was. I was trying so hard to be someone else that the tools meant to help me hd become a burden instead.

    Thank you for reminding me to love me for me and that it’s ok to do things differently in a way that makes sense to YOU and works for YOU. I don’t need to justify myself. And both I and my family will be ever so much more at peace enjoying OUR journey.

    Thank you!

    1. Oh, man, “I shouldn’t be tired” — that’s a big one for me too!! I’m so glad this came to you at the right time, Raquel. Life really is too short to worry about the “right” way to do everything, hah 🙂 We “should” trust ourselves more — that’s the good kind of “should” !! 🙂

    2. Thank you, Raquel & Caitlin!! I’m in the exact spot. You two have kicked me in the rear on my “should’s”. Thank you!! Now I really “should” choose what I want to do next & quit listening to my Mom whispering in my ear from heaven. 😉 Time to start living my life.

      Have a wonderful shoudless day!

  5. I really enjoyed the webinar last night. Mindset University is fantastic!

    “Shut Out the Shoulds” went right up on my fridge after the cast was finished. It’s a great reminder that we don’t have to live our lives by anybody’s standard but our own.

    Thanks for saying the hard stuff, Caitlin.

  6. Oh my goodness! This is so me. I’m just now coming into my own and kicking all of the “shoulds” out of my life, and I’m totally with you on the never wanting to get out of bed thing. When you fight a chronic illness, you just aren’t able to do things the way others do them, like get up at 5am feeling refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on the day. My ways can be quite unconventional, but they work for me. I get much done from my bed, couch, and car! I don’t beat myself up for not being “normal” anymore. Instead, I do my best, my way, keeping in mind that this will not be identical (maybe even total opposite) to the next person. Unlearning perfectionism has been a long, hard process for me, especially coming from a long line of overachieving perfectionists, but it’s been worth it. I’m happier this way.

    Here are some of the “shoulds” that I’m shutting out:
    I “should” be a morning person.
    I “should” have so much more accomplished, at my age.
    I “should” be able to push through my circumstances perfectly.
    I “should” be like everyone else and work a regular 9-5.
    I “should” have chosen “that” path, way back when.
    I “should” have way more energy.
    I “should” be in bed early every night.

    I am thrilled to finally be taking the first step and enrolling in the PA program, and I look forward to your live workshop this weekend. I read and appreciate every single email from you. They help me so much. Thanks!

  7. So true! It usually happens at different points in the day for me. It is often about different parts of my life.
    I usually think to myself:
    I should go out more.
    I should do more things around the house more…
    I should fix this item in the house.
    I am proud to say that I have been resolving some of my “shoulds” about eating healthy and keeping my weight at the healthy goal I’ve made it to.
    But the “shoulds’ are never ending. EEK ugh!

  8. How about “I should have hired a lawyer before accepting a job at a temp agency” and “I should have done the court paperwork that I still can’t understand by now”?

    I don’t mean to detract from the delightful ah-ha magnitude of your post, to be sure. Just suggesting another facet.

  9. Caitlin –

    Your article reminds me of an old friend of mine who used to tell me, “Don’t should on yourself.”

    You and that old friend are absolutely right. ☺

    After spending roughly four months trying to make up my mind about whether or not I ought to enroll in your Transcript Proofreading course, I’m glad I finally went ahead and signed up.

    Even though I know there are plenty of people who will try to tell me I “should” be doing something else, I feel like I’m truly on the right path to find success in the way that works best for me.

    Thank you so much, Caitlin, for offering your proofreading courses and for providing so much support for all of us along the way!

    1. Great points, Liz! I love Caitlin’s point about finding your version of success in a way that works best for you. It sounds like you’re in that mindset already. Thanks for sharing your journey. 🙂

  10. Hi Caitlin!!
    I got to say, you are the most inspiring person I know, even thou, I don’t know you in person JAJAJA! Your story has motivated me to change my perspective in many, many, things. I am on my way to find my success, the one that is right for me! I know it’s not easy but I will not give up…. now to continue focusing in my PT studies! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and for creating your courses!

  11. Perfect timing on this article! In an hour, I will be telling my teaching team that I am resigning, and I was starting to stress about it. This article reminded me of the freedom I will be gaining, and how it is possible to be successful on my terms. Thank you for the reminder!

    1. So glad it helped you, Colleen! Best wishes embarking on your new adventure! You got this! 🙂

    2. Good luck Colleen! I resigned 6 years ago and it was a great decision! I still look fondly on my 14 years of teaching instead of looking back on being a burned-out angry teacher. AND you are always a teacher even if you resign from your job. Don't forget that! Let me know if you want to connect!

  12. I’m a person who “second guess” myself too much-the shoulds. This article gives me tools to change my mindset to eradicate the “shoulds.”

  13. Wow! I can totally related to this! I felt so sorry for the guy in the video for continuing to suffer instead of taking action. Yet I could identify with his feeling of sticking with "the devil he knew" versus trying the unknown path. Fear is real, fear is crippling.

  14. If I'm being honest, I do not want to proofread at all. I feel as if it would take away my enjoyment of reading for fun. I'm only doing this to help out my family financially but now I'm starting to resent the fact that I'm forcing myself to do something for someone else once again. I'm more interested in helping people find God rather than fixing others mistakes. You have been a tremendous help and this email made me realize that I don't want this at all! I'm sorry proofreading is not my thing but I think through you I have realized what my thing truly is. Thank you from the depths of my heart. I may still try to learn the skill for backup but it's not my top priority.

    1. I think it’s great that you can be honest with yourself about that, Shauna!! Props and I know you will succeed in your mission. No doubt!

  15. Dear Caitlin,

    Thank you for your inspiring emails that “just seem to nail it on the head,” so to speak.

    I am enrolled in the General Proofreading course. I am enjoying the course and the knowledge I am gleaning.

    The course is so much more than Proofreading Anywhere. It is life-changing.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Keep well and be safe.

    All the very best to you and your family, Caitlin.


    1. Lisa-Anne! What a sweet comment. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the course and what you’re learning. And even more glad to hear that it’s been life-changing for you. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement.

  16. Caitlin, I think sometimes you are reading my mind! I’m on disability and can only work a few hours a day because of my disability and sometimes I feel so guilty for that. But I am starting to find my own way of getting done what I can and it feels good! This was a motivating post…keep it up! I look forward to them.

  17. The shoulds that have been on my mind lately are endless..

    My top 3 though; I SHOULD eat better, I SHOULD exercise more and I SHOULD join your Proofreading course!!

    The first 2 are easy enough to handle as I'm meeting myself halfway and making minor adjustments/removals to make em happen!!

    3rd is giving me a problem though cause everytime I save enough money something comes up 🙁

    I hope I will be able to very soon though! Making adjustments to make it happen!!

  18. Suffering from the same 'shoulds' as you, only that I'm still trying. Well, I believe your post just made me realise that I should change a bit and do things my way. Thanks for that realisation!

  19. Caitlyn,

    Thank you for this timely message. I have been so stuck in the “should” that I have been stopping myself from moving forward.

    Time to set and work on some new goals.

  20. Caitlin, you have no idea how spot on, you are!
    I need to stop struggling with my schedule and get ON it!!
    Thanks, Lynda

  21. Thank you so much for this! I was immersed with shoulds when your email came, in aversion of pitching and especially about starting new freelance work (which I love to do once get started). I’m feeling a lot better now. I’ll take the smart work, not the ones that keep me running, and still be me. Hugs thanks again.

  22. Hi, Caitlin!
    I am so thankful to have stumbled upon (you and) Proofread Anywhere last month. You are truly a changemaker! Please continue being you and allowing us access to your thinking for as long as you are comfortable. There are few individuals in this world with your combination of talents, empathy, insight, accessibility, self-awareness, influence, and authenticity. I hope that you are doing well!

  23. I too have thought that I need to do what many people (claim to?) do—get up very early and start the day working while the rest of the world is sleeping. I’ve found that trying to do that caused me great stress. With the other people at my home, who also wake up early, I could not detach myself to start working (right now, working on the Ignite course) in the morning as I also have to water the garden, check on other family matters—my mother lives with us, and I have my boys home for the summer. Doing what my family needs first, then working after lunch has been my new schedule, and it works for me, even if it not most-recommended nor the daily plan other professionals follow. 🙂

  24. The timing of this post was perfect! I just left my 9 to 5 job to work freelance full-time. I've never been a person that cares about society's "norms" and I catch flak for it all the time from family, friends, and- well, jerks. So, I lie down for a nap and all the voices of other people start racing through my mind. "Why would you leave a good job, loser?" Then I look in my e-mail and see this wonderful gem. Just the confidence boost I needed! Thanks, Caitlin!

  25. Hi Caitlin,
    I want to let you know that I really look forward to your emails. I'll look at the funny guy's video too! I started GP about 6 weeks ago; I'm totally devoted and actually look forward to those essays–that's crazy, right?
    If I make it through, this would start my 3rd career, I'm 68 years young. Perfect "retirement" job.

    Best regards,
    Diane Rehling

  26. So much of my self-talk is about ‘should’ these days. I should be more successful by now, I should be more active, I should be putting more energy into my current job, I should be spending more time on my PA studies, I should be more social, I should, I should, I should. Until your post, I wasn’t aware just how overwhelming the ‘should’ has become. I’m working on becoming more accepting again, it will help to recognize this keyword to watch for. I should learn to shut out the should. Oops, did it again.

    Yesterday I thought “I should change into real clothes while I study.” Then it hit me, somewhere along the line I determined these are my sleeping/lounging pajamas, and these are my work/study pajamas. So I am using cloths to help guide my mindset, while still being comfy and true to myself.

  27. Danke schön, Caitlin. I used to struggle with the same issue. Regret, no vitality and a slow progress were the only things resulted from the 'shoulds'. Today I let things go at their own pace and I dare say that's how it SHOULD work.

    Warm regards,

  28. I know something I *should* do is start the proofreading course I purchased awhile ago! I keep making excuses and putting it off, mostly out of fear of the unknown… but I am slowly working up the courage! Also, I love JP Sears, he's hilarious!

  29. Hi Caitlin, thank you for all of the posts you have sent me. I too feel like you are speaking exactly what is going on with me. I should have everything that I need right in front of me. I should begin by 8:00 in the morning that’s the appropriate time to begin. Well I don’t work 9-5 anymore and I am a night owl. I am trying to split my study time up. I am not comfortable yet, but I will get there soon.

  30. I love this post!!! My *should* that I’m actively working on shutting out is “I *should* be happy working a 9 to 5 that pays me a great deal of money and I *should* be grateful that I have the position that I do.” I’m working on moving from a 9 to 5 working for someone else to building my own online business and I am trying to move past the mindset that the corporate way is the only way! It’s hard, and I will probably have to stick with this job for the next few years while I pay down my massive student loans, but I see my goal and I am actively working to pursue it. Your posts are exactly what I need!

  31. I am shutting out the "should" of retiring! From the day I turned 65 (now 66), everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to know what I am doing in retirement – grrrrr. My philosophy is that the idea of traditional retirement is highly overrated. So I am flying in the face of convention and starting over with a whole new business!

  32. This hit the nail on the head for me! I'm struggling with trying to get out of bed everyday with the should beds! it is so defeating, I get up and feel totally defeated and defated like a balloon! I don't know how to get out of this " I hate my life slump"!

  33. This made me cry, it is so darned accurate.
    Have been 'should-being' for so much of my life. I have a couple right for me options but I need to find the funding for both.

    I need the job I just interviewed for to replenish my moolah. Meanwhile, I am reaching out to friends for contacts.

    Thanks for mentioning this in the April 21 email.

  34. Love this! It's painful to watch and yet incredibly liberating to watch.

  35. I should be in a much better place at my ripe old age of 57. I've been working on getting a business started for 6 years now with zero results, because I have so many limiting beliefs it's not funny! I should be doing a lot of things that I just can't bring myself to do.

  36. I'm 66 years old and have accomplished exactly sh** in my long long years.

    Does being male have any bering? I noticed the comments are all female.

  37. I "should" stop letting people tell me that I can't do it or that I am not able to do it and just do it! I "should" stop letting people walk on me and stand up for myself

    1. You’re absolutely right! If you want something badly enough, no one should stand in your way! Take back your power! ????????

  38. Thank you, Caitlin. I've got a lot of "shoulds" I'm trying to beat back. The biggest one is cleaning, organizing, and decorating (wow! if I could only get there) my apartment, which has been an unholy mess all year. My irrational mind is telling me I can't do anything else until I get this done. Yet I still refuse to do it. I think this "should" is serving as an excuse to put so many things on hold, including completing the Proofread Anywhere course. It's heartening to read your message. I know I'm not the only one who never wants to get out of bed in the morning.

  39. cConvincing myself that I have to get up and go to work. lie in bed intil I end up being late for work. I am a widow. If I don't work…..ya, lots of crazy stuff will happen and I do like eating and spending money.

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