Have you noticed that when you think of something as a “should” it feels like a burden?

“Should” is the voice of obligation, a burdensome whisper of duties imposed by yourself and society. When you operate on “should,” you’re often following external pressures or internal expectations, not personal desire or intrinsic motivation. This discrepancy can lead to a lack of fulfillment because your actions do not fully align with your values or aspirations. 

Yet, you can shift the burden of “should” by simply choosing to think of something as a “want” instead. “Want” sings the tune of desire and free will, offering a more authentic path to fulfillment. When you act on “want,” you tap into your core desires and passions, which can fuel greater satisfaction and joy in your endeavors.

Choosing to shift from ”should” to “want” isn’t whimsical advice; it is backed by science that shows it can lead to a more fulfilled life. Research has demonstrated that positive language and the articulation of desire have tangible effects on the brain. For example, framing goals and aspirations in terms of “want” has been linked to increased activation in brain regions associated with reward and motivation.

“Should” and “want” are mindsets that drive your daily actions and shape your life. Therefore, although simple, the journey from ”should” to “want” may not be easy. It requires introspection, an understanding of your true desires, and often a confrontation with the fears and beliefs that create limits. By recognizing the challenges and learning practices to apply this mindset, you can create a more “want”-filled and full-filled life.


Challenges in Making The Shift From “Should” to “Want”

Societal Pressures and Expectations

Society’s narratives of success can often dictate your “shoulds,” pressuring you to pursue a career or lifestyle that resonates more with collective ideals than with your genuine passions. This dissonance creates a disconnect between your actions and your authentic self, which can foster dissatisfaction and stress. To truly embrace “want,” you must be willing to challenge societal norms and forge your own path.


Consistency is key in any transformation, yet doubts can derail progress. When faced with challenges or setbacks, it can be easy to revert to “should” as it provides a safe harbor of familiarity. Staying the course requires a steadfast commitment to your desires, especially in the face of adversity. This journey is not about never doubting, it’s about persisting despite your doubts.

How to Make The Shift

Identify Your “Shoulds”

The first step in transitioning from “should” to “want” is identifying the “shoulds” that govern your life. These are often entrenched in your psyche, masquerading as undeniable truths. They can stem from various sources: parental expectations, cultural norms, or even self-imposed ideals based on comparison with others. To identify them, reflect on the times you’ve felt obliged to act against your interest or joy.

Foster “Want”

Begin by cultivating self-awareness. Listen to your internal dialogue. What excites you? What are you curious about? Start small, integrating activities into your routine that align more closely with your interests. Next, practice reframing your thoughts. Transform thoughts like “I should work out” into “I want to feel strong and healthy.” Over time, these techniques can shift your mindset and align your actions more closely with your true desires.

Practical Applications

In the Workplace

In the workplace, this shift can transform your professional life. Start by identifying tasks you feel you “should” do versus those you “want” to do. Gradually, take action to delegate, minimize, alter, or reframe the “should” tasks. Consciously seek out projects that ignite a “want.” As you increase job satisfaction and productivity, your work begins to resonate more with your values and interests.

At Home and In Family

At home and in family life, “want” can lead to more harmonious relationships and greater personal satisfaction. Instead of a mindset of “I should spend time with family,” focus on “I want to create meaningful moments with my loved ones.” This perspective can alleviate feelings of guilt and obligation, allowing for more genuine and fulfilling interactions.

Personal Development and Self-care

By shifting to a “want” mentality, you embrace a more compassionate approach to self-improvement. Rather than punishing yourself with “shoulds” about diet, exercise, or learning, focus on what you “want” to achieve for your well-being. This approach can lead to more sustainable habits and a kinder relationship with yourself. 

Turning “should” into “want” is more than a simple change in your vocabulary; it’s a choice that can open the door to greater fulfillment. Because, at its essence, a “want”-filled life is a full-filled life.

By aligning your actions with your desires, you choose the path that leads to an authentic and more enjoyable life. To get started, click here to claim your free gift: Core Values Assessment: Aligning Your Core Values To Your Authentic Self. 

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