Mindfulness Tips to Overcome the Cycle of Should

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. My partner was golfing, I was home along, left to my own devices and conspiring all the ways that i wanted to grow my business; all the dreams, desires and plans I had in the works.

  • Create an online business course

  • Create three new Ebooks

  • Design a retreat webinars

  • Update mY social media templates

  • Daily blog posts

  • update my home page

  • Revise my Radiant Life Guide coaching program

  • Grow my yoga teaching schedule

  • Advertise my new family yoga class

  • Get ready for my Kids mindfulness class

  • Finish the marketing plan for my Cambodia retreat

  • Design apparel

As the list grew, I felt a mounting sense of panic. How was I going to get this all done? Where would I find the time? I was, after all, just one person, with only so much time in the day.

That is when I decided to drop my pen, my notepad, and gently set down my laptop to take a step outside. It was here in the bright rays of sunlight, blue skies, gentle breeze and subtle hum of a nearby hummingbirds that I realized I was doing something I often coach others NOT to do. I was SHOULD-ing all over myself. I was not in a mindful state of mind. I was letting future thoughts and arbitrary deadlines dictate my experience and I was not living in the moment at all. I was 20 years down the road worried about retirement!

Wayen Dyer Should Quote Shae Sterrett.png

The Cycle of Should

I was should-ing myself about what I should accomplish as a coach, business owner, yoga teacher, retreat leader. I was should-ing myself about when this should all get done. I was assigning deadlines that had no real meaning or value work that didn’t “HAVE” to get done at this exact moment.

I experienced a profound sense of mindfulness in that moment. I loved this experience because it reminds of the old adage “Practice what you preach.”. By not practicing mindfulness it reminded me that I needed to practice it right then in that moment. And I did.

First, i practices radical acceptance, a phrase you might be familiar with if you are follow the work of Tara Brach. So I accepted that yes, there is a collection things that I want to do and need to do, to take my business to the next level, but they don’t all have to be done today, in this moment. Then, i accepted that I am only one person and I will do what I can, when I can.

Breaking Old Habits

In order to stop should-ing myself I got organized. Part of this involved revisiting some of my task and time management practices. I love this quote stating the Parkinsons Law, which first appeared in 1955 in the Economist:

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." 

If I wanted it to take 2 hours to write a blog post, it would take that long, if I could bust it out in 45 minutes then I’d get it done in that timeframe. With this in mind I put together a more formal production schedule for my week and made sure to include time for daily meditation, movement, exercise, and Reiki self healing.

I also took the time do something i love - making a list! An up to date to do list, but I didn’t stop there. I made a desire list, I made a dream list. I made a priority list. I find lists to be extremely helpful both for acknowledging what I have accomplished, setting some kind of priority, and honoring the work to come.

Mindfulness Tips

In order to stop the vicious cycle of should there are some clear steps anyone can take. The process really boils down to one question “what is important right now”.

  1. Take a deep breath, or 3 is even better - remember you are alive and that is a gift. Take a nice long inhale through your nose, and an even longer exhale if that is comfortable.

  2. Sink back into your sense - sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste - these are magical gifts that remind us of the world we live in.

  3. Find a pause - step away, go outside, take a walk, close your eyes. Find a way to remove yourself from the situation.

  4. Accept whatever is coming up - we are programmed to reject anything that causes discomfort, but when we can be with our discomfort we can begin to let go of the negative feelings that often come with it - regret and shame - emotions that serve no purpose. When present we need to honor them on the path toward our highest self.

  5. Ease back in slowly - it does not good to dive right back into the space that was causing the triggers.

  6. Break it down into small action steps - this is where lists come in so handy. Reflect on what is happening and take time to list out what needs to happen, what is important. Like me, you may create lists of action steps, with dreams and desires so you understand and honor what is happening now and how it impacts your future self.

  7. Pick a priority - You are the only one who can chose what is most important, so choose it and move through the list in the way that feels more authentic to you.

  8. Be realistic - Do you find yourself feeling overburdened only to throw your hands up in the air and get nothing done. Isn’t this just another way of reinforcing limiting beliefs about yourself? Instead of feeling overwhelmed and doing nothing, set realistic goals for yourself. Instead of saying “I will write one blog post a day” set a goal to write one blog post a week.

  9. Reward yourself - how often do you reward yourself with some nourishing and nurturing when you complete something. Go for a long hike, take a long bath, buy that book you’ve been wanting. When you reinforce your successes with positive rewards you create a physiological response in the body that releases several happiness hormones! Want to learn more about those, check out this fun read from besthealthmag.com.


The next time you feel like you are in the throws of anger, frustration, regret, or shame as a result of thinking you should have, or should be doing something, stop and use the tips above.

I’d love to hear if this is helpful for you!



Shae Sterrett

Entrepreneur, dreamer, doer, lifestyle coach, business consultant, helping you get more done, live freely and fully with total wellness in mind, body and spirit.