What Should You Do?

by Stacy

Most of my clients want to know what they SHOULD do. What they should eat, how often they should exercise, and how often they should do it.

A few days ago I was chatting online with my cousin; I asked her what she would expect to learn in one of my programs. Her reply: “How to self-motivate. And a certain balance of hand-holding and ass-whipping.”

The second comment made me laugh, but the first comment made me curious. What did she mean by motivation?

She explained how she wasn’t going to yoga, an activity she really enjoys, and wasn’t sure why. Laziness, perhaps. Between that and eating poorly, she felt out of shape (“squishy”). She had a few minutes, so I asked her to do a little exercise with me.


Photo credit: Chris Willis

THOUGHT: “I SHOULD go to yoga.”

I asked why: “Because it’s pretty much the only kind of exercise I like, I’m pretty good at it, and I like to see myself improve.” Good reason, right?

BELIEF: It’s her fault she feels “squishy” because she’s lazy and lacks willpower to work out. Framing it as something she should do, but doesn’t, makes her feel guilty.

We re-framed her dilemma.

THOUGHT: “If I really wanted to, I COULD go to yoga.”

When asked why she isn’t going, her reasons changed: “It’s expensive, and it cuts into the number of hours I can work.”

BELIEF: She can’t afford it. The reason she wasn’t going to yoga was her limiting belief around money.

This led to: I SHOULD work more hours. Why? Because she needs the money. Again, by saying she should, but doesn’t, she implies that it’s her fault that she doesn’t have enough money.

What’s the solution? She does contract work from home so she sets her own schedule – a double-edged sword. Trying to work more hours led her to procrastinating more and doing less. She set herself a 4-hour work period which ends at 1:00pm. After that, she can move on with her day.

As for yoga, she has options: she can do yoga at home, reward herself with a weekly class for working a certain number of hours or completing a project, go to pay-what-you-can classes, or look for a work-study opportunity at a nearby studio.

She felt both guilty and deprived not going to yoga. When we deprive ourselves, whether it’s diet, self-care, or physical activity, we become resentful of the things “preventing us” from doing what we enjoy — even though it’s us standing in our own way.

Three days later she posted on Twitter: “My cousin is kick-ass. She got me to look at my schedule in such a better way. Seems small but it changes EVERYTHING!”

What’s on your SHOULD list? Why?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy August 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

My should list is long. Topping it right now is giving up caffiene. Suffering from chronic headaches I know it’s what I need to do to help myself feel better, but I can’t help but feel like I am going to be deprived, missing out out my morning coffee and afternoon coke zero.


Stacy August 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

I feel you. It took me 3 years to give up caffeine, and then I wondered why I was so stubborn. Better sleep, more energy, fewer headaches… it’s like I was punishing myself!


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