‘Shoulds’ and ‘musts’
‘I should be self-employed or running my own business!’, ‘I should have a house?’, ‘I should study!’, ‘I should get out of this burning house!’
These sentences above have a different tone, meaning or intention to them than the following;
I MUST be self-employed or running my own business! I MUST have a house? I MUST study! I MUST get out of this burning house!
A ‘SHOULD’ is something you know is the right thing to do but you don’t do, at least most of the time. A ‘MUST’ is something you know you have to do no matter what for it is as important as breathing, it is what you cannot do without.
Shoulds get you to do what is CONVENIENT. Musts get you to do what is necessary and most IMPORTANT!
There are reasons, I believe, why our ‘shoulds’ are not ‘musts';
– they are not congruent to our values;
If we value our lives we wouldn’t just sit in a burning house and just say; ‘I should get out of this house’. We would stand up and run out of there as fast as we can, unless we value burning to death more that living to see the next day. We would rather say to ourselves; ‘I MUST get out of this house’.
– the pain is still bearable;
There are two categories of ‘motivators’, namely avoidance of pain and seeking pleasure, the former being the most powerful of the two. Our shoulds may remain shoulds unless they cause us too much pain to remain that way. We may not try and change what we can still tolerate.
– lack of commitment;
A ‘should’ equals a must without commitments, motivation and action. That is
Should = must – commitment – motivation (e.g. avoidance of pain) – action
We are more committed to our ‘musts’ than we are to our ‘shoulds’ and hence are likely to act on our ‘musts’ than otherwise. More importantly, actions lead to results, and results is what we are looking for.
So, if we change our ‘shoulds’ into ‘musts’ we also drastically increase our chances of taking actions and in turn producing tangible results.