Leave Your ‘Shoulds’ Behind

There is a power in getting away from our “shoulds” and I’d like to explain why it can be powerful for you too.

My wife and I would occasionally use Marriott points to spend a weekend night in a hotel, which often elicited a “wink-wink” or nod from friends and family. We’d feel like we were sneaking away, having an affair, and sometimes even felt a bit guilty that we weren’t being “productive” with our time.

But the power lay in getting away from our “shoulds” at home and it felt incredibly liberating to escape them. When at home there are always seemed to be a laundry-list of shoulds just hanging over our heads:

  • ”I should be fixing __________”
  • ”Laundry needs to be done and we should do a few loads”
  • ”That closet needs to be cleaned out and we should do it soon”
  • …and so on.

Often I couldn’t even walk through my own house without seeing all the shoulds and both of us rarely gave ourselves permission to just hang out, relax, and table the shoulds for a set period of time.

Don’t get me started on all the “work shoulds” too. Like you, we would usually need three or more days of a one week vacation to begin to forget all the shoulds at work. When working day-in and day-out (including weekends since we’re self-employed) meant that shoulds could be done any time and they were always out there waiting for us to do them!

But every time Michelle and I have been able to leave our shoulds behind — and felt free to think, talk, watch movies, goof around, hold hands, explore and play — we have always come back refreshed and renewed…and have been better people, more relaxed ones, and eventually more productive because of leaving them behind, if only for a short time.

Give it a try. Put yourself in situations where you are removed from your own shoulds (and couldn’t do them even if you wanted to!). I guarantee you’ll feel the freedom too.


  1. John on March 2, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    We enjoy more frequent little getaways to the coffee shop or beach i hadn’t thought about it in terms of escaping the shoulds.

    I remember reading somewhere that couples (and probably friends too) need to spend time together doing things they both enjoy… not just chores and resting.

    Oh, that reminds me of when my mother was around. I used to visit every weekend. Most times, there’d be shopping to do, bills to pay, paperwork to organize and chores. On top of that, we would sometimes cook a meal, which required cleaning up.

    My mother could see in my eyes that my visits were being rushed and that I wasn’t enjoying them.

    One day I decided my visits should be fun. I organized cleaners, online shopping and other services for her. These services weren’t free but in the context of her state of health and time… well, I gained a new perspective.

    We started to visit coffee shops, parks, restaurants, galleries and friends on those weekends. I often brought my own family. Suddenly, those visits became filled with smiles and laughter.

    The paperwork and bills were taken care of at my place in my own time without interruption so they took barely any time. Win-win.

  2. Steve Borsch on March 4, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Nice comment John. Looks like you gave quite a gift to your mother….you and your attention. Fortunately you were tech-smart enough to set all of that up for her.

    When my Dad was alive and home-bound, I was lucky enough to have three sisters who did so much. I was able to take him to all of his doctor appointments and other services he required, and made time to take him around for, like you said, fun! He and I bonded over some TV shows he loved, ones I grew to like since he did. Because all of the “shoulds” could be split-up amongst my sisters and me — and we eventually had in-home aids come over twice a day for two hours each time — it worked so well.

    The other thing was NOT disconnecting his internet. He couldn’t sit at his computer anymore and didn’t want to use an iPad or other device, but it did enable my sisters and I to take our laptops over to his house and work. We all had flexibility to do that and thus we could be with Dad A LOT over the last year of his life.

    You were a good son to her.

  3. John Nakulski on March 4, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    >The other thing was NOT disconnecting his internet. He couldn’t sit at his computer anymore and didn’t want to use an iPad or other device, but it did enable my sisters and I to take our laptops over to his house and work.

    That’s a great idea! I did the same. It enabled me to work from her home, and made it more fun for visiting relatives.

    Today, mobile Internet is getting so cheap that keeping “Gran’s” Internet going is not so important, unless you like to watch movies / TV online, or unless “working from Mum’s home” involves much more than email.

    Oh and thanks for your kind words, Steve.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.