Get Rid of the Word ‘Should’!

should“You would be much happier if you removed the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary. ‘Should’ is denial. You’re saying your expectations deserve to override reality.” —Albert Ellis

Expectations, how many ways do we let ourselves down with our expectations? Goals are one thing; they are an aspiration to achieve a future state. On the other hand, we tend to mislead ourselves with expectations. This is how things ‘should’ be. I ‘should’ have done this. I ‘shouldn’t’ have done that. ‘Should’ is irrelevant. What we have is what is. So, how can we get rid of the word ‘should’ and stop denying what is?

What is real?

When we focus on ‘should’, we risk overlooking what actually is. Things are how they are, regardless of if you think they should be or not. You did what you did, regardless of what you think you should have done. You cannot live in denial of what is real. This is the first step to getting rid of the word ‘should’. The word ‘should’ becomes even worse when you try to insert your ‘should’ into someone else’s reality.

Where are you now?

Where you expected to be is irrelevant. Where are you now? How foolish it is to waste time concentrating our energies on where we expected to be. The only way you can achieve a desired future state is to be honest with yourself about where you really are right now. The word ‘should’ becomes a heavy weight when you try to tell others where they ‘should’ be.

What do you want?

Not what do you want in an expectation way, what do you want in a way that allows you to set actual goals. Goals are actionable, expectations are not. What do you want that you are willing to put in the work for? What can you do so that in the future you won’t find yourself under the dark cloud of ‘should’? Don’t push your wants on others; no one ‘should’ want what you think they should want.

What is the next step?

Now that you acknowledge what is real; where you in fact are; and what you are actually willing to put in the work to achieve, what is the next step? Again, goals are actionable; what action will you take? What is your plan to get yourself from your current state to your desired future state? Start on that journey, one step at a time. Your next step is personal, don’t try to ‘should’ it on others.

Remove the Word ‘Should’ from Your Vocabulary

Is it possible to go through life without regrets? Probably not but, you can sure distance yourself from regret by removing the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary. Get clear on what is real. Focus on where are you now. Define what you want. And, then plan out your next step. Stop deceiving yourself with ‘should’.



© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


2 thoughts on “Get Rid of the Word ‘Should’!”

  1. Hi Liz, I just love this blog!
    That is the one word that I have specifically eliminated from my vocabulary, both in speaking and writing.
    To help me to continue to avoid using the word, I tell myself “Don’t should on your self today”.

    1. I love your reminder, Steve! Using ‘should’ is such a bad, pointless habit. Thank you for sharing your perspective. 🙂

Comments are closed.