battling the "shoulds"

There is always a million things I feel like I should do. 

I should fold the laundry. 

I should clean the house. I should clean the bathroom. Maybe I should vacuum.

I should call that person. I should write that person. 

I should work out more. 

I should save more. 

There is always something I "should" do and what I've realized lately (or rather the husband has helped me realize) is that all the "shoulds" are never going to make my life better. 

Would having a picture-perfect home solve all my problems? Would having rock-solid abs make me happier? 

I want things to be put together and I have a heavy guilt complex when they aren't just so. I always feel like there's a million pressing things that I should be doing. No one else is forcing me to do check off this giant to-do list; it's a list of my own creation and it's something I hold myself to far too much. 

Part of me being present this year, means letting myself not obsess over all the things I should be doing. 

Recently my family asked me to come up to the cabin on Whidbey Island. It was so last minute and I knew that there was a million things I should be, could be doing instead. But I decided that the list of "shoulds" getting done were not going to make me happier come Sunday evening, so I went. And it was perfect, relaxing and enjoyable. 

Are there things in your life-- a list of shoulds and shouldn't dos -- that you let get to you? I know all of us are busy-- too busy-- and if you're like me, maybe you revel a little bit in the fact that you're busy and you have so much you should be doing and you have so much that you can get done. I confess that busyness, my list of shoulds, can become my identity, and I take pride that I am the responsible one that gets that list done. And when I write this all out, I release how sad it all sounds. That this can be my hamster wheel of a life. 

It doesn't need to be like this for me, and maybe it doesn't need to be this way for you. Maybe I don't need to live in the world of what I should or shouldn't do. I believe that God gave us a life and a life to live fully. Yes, there are responsibilities, but I can't live my life where I feel beholden to my invisible list. 

As a part of being present, I'm battling the shoulds and hoping that this time will be the year I win. 

Am I alone in this? Or do you also feel stuck in an endless spiral of things you should do? 

xo, erika


  1. :) yup! I've decided that this year I'm going to start embracing imperfection in all its glory. I'm hoping this means that I'll want to exercise more and save more when I'm not doing it just because I've placed some unattainable goal on myself and made myself feel guilty.

    I'm glad you took an impromptu break. It makes the world of difference.


  2. i think this battle is completely normal because sometimes our "shoulds" are legit. the real battle is trying to prioritize and to figure out WHAT really matters. and so glad you got a chance to get away, too. it's good to take a breather every now and then. :)

  3. My art history teacher once started the semester with a quote by Lao Tzu- "It is better to do nothing than to be busy doing nothing." Changed my life! Its good to hear someone write about their to do list. Mine gets to me ;P

  4. Consistent stream of things to check off the list!

    Faded Windmills

  5. This is so me. I tend to live for the checklist. And i completely understand reveling in the busyness. It makes me feel important, like, "Hey! Look at all this stuff I have to do! Aren't I great?" Like you said, it sounds foolish, but it's so easy to do. THank you so much for this post.

  6. It's crazy to think that we're too busy sometimes to just live freely. I too want to live life more fully this year, as it was meant to be. We'll only have regrets later if we don't. So live it up :)

  7. The "shoulds" are a pain. They always exist. There will literally never be a time when there is nothing you "should" do. I am so glad you went to the cabin! Sometimes you need to tell that pesky "should" list what's up. :p

  8. I often feel the same way!! It's hard to let ourselves give up the guilt and accept that part of living is the messes and imperfections. Just today I told myself I was going to clean the bathroom and vacuum, and I only finished one. There's only so many hours in a day--and barely time to enjoy them as it is. I think the cabin was a good choice :)

  9. You most definitely are not alone in this! I actually chose full for my word for the year (more about that here: http://paintchipmadness.blogspot.com/2014/01/word-for-year.html and yes, that is a shameless link to my blog, haha) and one of the greatest reasons why is because I need to make my mind stop thinking so much and just live life to the fullest---just as God calls us to. I've actually been struggling with thinking too much about the what if's which are kind of similar to the should's/should have's in life. Because when it comes down to it, we need to put Him first in our lives and that includes our thoughts, too. :)

  10. This is amazing. The entire post is completely spot on for me. Sometimes I feel like my list of "shoulds," is constantly dragging me down. I am always stressing about what I should be doing. How do you plan on making the list disappear?

    1. @Hanana_reynolds-- I'm trying to have other people keep me accountable! :)

  11. yes love this. i read it last night + today when I was thinking while they kids are at school I "should...." but then NO. i need time alone, to read, to write, to dream, to process, to drink coffee in peace. so here i am at starbucks. thank you for this post.


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