The whole day lay ahead of me.

I’d had an early meeting planned that fell through.

So instead, I mowed lawns for over an hour until I had blisters on my fingers that were threatening to pop.

Shelly mowing the lawns on Great Barrier Island

I sat down on the couch for a well-deserved cold drink and put on Netflix.

It was at that moment the little voice in my head started saying, you should…

You should do some work.

You should be productive.

You should get off your ass.

You should do the dishes. Cook. Clean windows. Drive to that place and do that thing.

You should go for a walk.

You should do those exercises the physio gave you.

What the actual fuck?

What is it that fills our heads with SHOULDs when we have the opportunity to rest, relax, recharge, have a break, take time out, practise some self-care,  or just fucking STOP for a few hours if we want to?

I don’t know about you but there’s a voice in my head, OFTEN.

Shoulding all over me.

How do I deal?

So if I have the presence of mind, I go through a set of questions:

  1. Why should I?
  2. Who says?
  3. And if I do?
  4. And if I don’t?

And after I’ve had that conversation with myself, I tell myself something like:

Now that I’ve followed those thought processes through, I choose to do X. It’s an informed decision, and I choose to do X because it’s going to get me: (now list 3 benefits of your choice).

For example:

  1. Why should I get off this couch and DO something? Because you’re wasting time.
  2. Who says I should get up off the couch? Well… No one. Someone. THEM. Ummm, people.
  3. And if I do get up off the couch and do something? I’ll be tired. My hands will be more sore and maybe get worse. I might find something enjoyable to do, but there’s nothing I HAVE to do right now.
  4. And if I don’t get up off the couch and do something?  I’ll be relaxed and rested. I’ll have an enjoyable afternoon. Because I’m on freaking holiday, and I deserve a break. It’s perfectly ok to stay here on the couch. Plus there are no people around, PLUS IDGAF what THEY think.

So, now that I’ve followed those thought processes through, I choose to stay on the couch.

It’s an informed decision.

And I choose to stay on the couch because it’s going to get me downtime, a nap, and a big finger to that little voice that keeps shoulding on me!

That’s loosely how it goes, maybe with some alterations depending on context and depending on the answers.

It’s entirely possible that conversation will end up in me realising there IS a reason that little voice is talking to me. There IS a valid reason I should do a particular thing. Either way, the conversation helps me figure it out.

And in the case of the mowed lawns and the blistered hands and the Netflix?

I’m pleased to report I wiled away the rest of that sunny day right there, on that couch, with an old woollen blanket. And there were naps involved. And tequila.

And not a fucking should in sight.


As a rockstar business writer, trainer, and keynote speaker, I show people how to feel more powerful in their own universe, so they can have joy.

I remind big companies and government agencies drowning in corporate jargon, that plain language will get you better results – every, single, time.

I un-train!  Because it turns out that business writing is more about being courageously transparent than it is about having an impressive vocab or where the f*ck to put a semi-colon.

When we choose to operate with authenticity, integrity, and courage, both our business writing and our lives achieve the outcomes we’re craving.

Know yourself.  Love yourself.  Have power.  Find joy