This world is saturated with unhappy, unfulfilled souls shuffling through life very similar to one another in their atrocities, short comings, depressions, stagnant relationships, and unproductive careers. The cycle is repetitive, redundant, and restrictive. This is the majority going through life doing as they think they should, when true growth and development will sprout from doing as they choose.
Let’s start with a male affinity to set up this episode’s topic.
When you’re a boy, your life is pretty much laid out for you. You’re afforded a few liberties and choices, but for the most part you simply do what you’re told to do or what is expected or you. . Doing what you should do is part of growing and maturing as a child, as children are not developed or mature enough to be responsible for some of the ramifications resulting from liberated choice.
Now fast forward. Being a man means taking control of your life and being responsible for yourself. A man does as he chooses, while a boy does as he should. However, some men never make the transition; they struggle with carving out their own path in life because of a reluctance to depart from the false sense of security doing as someone else has dictated they should.
Let’s look at the handed down game plan that is all too often the GPS from boyhood to manhood
It’s a pattern introduced in the grade school years and extends well beyond college years.
Graduate from high school. Take out massive loans and go to college —> Get a 9-5 job with a decent salary and benefits —> Get married —> Have kids —> Take on a mortgage —> Work 40 years in something you’re not terribly passionate about —>Retire, live on fixed income, let your kids come back home, and hope you have adequate healthcare to accommodate some of the ills of aging —> Die.
From a female perspective, conventionalism presents a similar pattern. Girls are taught to do as they are told, sometimes even taught to do as they’re told by men that aren’t their fathers which lays the ground work latter in life for a submissive individual that more often than not never choose to do anything because they’re conditioned to do as they’re told or what is expected of them.
Pretty much standard girl to womanhood GPS is not strange to any of us. It goes something like this
Graduate from high school. Take out big lingering loan and go to college ( because you can’t depend on a man to take care of you but you better be submissive and do as he says) -> Get married -> Have children-> take care of the domestic demands of your family-> honor thou husband -> put on weight -> get divorced-> rebrand yourself a cougar -> rundown younger men-> die
Sound about right? Read on!
Doing as one should or as someone else feels one should is the very reason there are so many unsuccessful people in the world. Because they have never actually figured out what they really want in life, they wander through life pursuing goals and conforming to patterns only God knows who crafted. The usual suspects however are –/society/television/family/religion– all famous for hounding you on what you should do.
Why do we do as we should?
It’s safe, it’s comforting, and it doesn’t draw attention. Well think for a second if Barack Obama, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had been steadfast about following that conventional model mentioned earlier. The latter two of the three afore mentioned men dropped out of college, which for a young white man at that time was a way radical decision within itself, but man, by choosing to do what they wanted, did Steve Jobs and Bill Gates ever change the world.
And Barack Obama, making the choice to pursue the presidency of The United States of America was way south of what mainstream dictated a black man should do. But look at him now, and look at some of the beneficial historic legislature he’s been responsible for.
Folks, when you do things simply to please others or gain their approval, when you act purely from a sense of guilt or unsubstantiated obligation, you give up a bit of your personal power, build fences of restriction and boundaries around yourself resulting in the arteries of your life becoming a jangled discord of confusion. And you head down a path that invariably leads to feelings of resentment, anger, and depression.
It’s no wonder so many of us are miserable, unhappy, burdened with jobs, debt, things, and relationships that are nothing more than burdens in our lives. We’re doing as we should and don’t even know by who’s authority. Certainly not ours. Complacent with misery and unfulfillment remaining docile chasing dreams that aren’t ours never knowing the realty our own choices could afford us.
Getting From I Should To I Choose
The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself about what you want really want. If you’ve never sat down to figure out what you want out of life, you need to get on that ASAP. If you’re a young person just testing the shallow waters of your maiden voyage into life’s travels, do some soul searching to see if you’re in the right career or major. Ask yourself “Am I doing this because I want to or am I doing this because I think I should?”
If you’re a man or woman who’s years into his career or life choices, and you feel like you’re not living the life you want, figure out what you’d like your life to be and start crafting plans to bring it to fruition. And if you are a substantially older man or woman, simply ask yourself why have you been complacent for so long living a life or dream that clearly is not yours.
Then learn the word no! Learn the two words Hell No! Learn the three words OH HilllllNawwww! (may have to double up for those persistent types) Just say no. Start saying “no” to requests of your time and energy. It’s your time and energy, and honestly, anyone outside of your immediate family and loved ones have no right to demand any of it you’re not feely willing to invest. A lot of us reluctantly over extend ourselves by automatically saying yes to requests because we want approval from everyone around us or because everybody else says it’s the thing to do. Don’t fall into that trap. You don’t have to be a jerk when you say no. Just politely and firmly say, “No “. No need to explain, just say it. Maybe you should start treating your time and obligations like your money. You don’t go around giving that away freely do you?
Replace “I should” with “I choose.” Real men and women, successful, men and women do what they choose to do; boys and girls do what they should. Instead of saying “I should,” say “I choose.” “I choose to go to college.” “I choose not to date this guy even though everyone else feels I should.” It’s amazing how much more powerful and in control of your life you’ll feel when you start choosing instead of falling victim to what you should.
Now let me be clear. I’m not suggesting you become a selfish irresponsible narcissistic arrogant jackass in your quest to begin choosing over shoulding. Doing what you should means doing the morale, legal, and self enhancing thing. Choosing to neglect duties and responsibilities you’re obligated to fulfill is simply following the path of the detrimental should taken by the irresponsible and the misguided. It will take some judgment and wisdom on your part to balance doing what you should and doing what you choose.
For example, you really should be faithful in your relationships. But should you remain in one that’s unfulfilling, abusive, and unhappy, because someone thinks you should? Should you stay at a job you hate out of guilt that they need you even though you have a better opportunity somewhere else? Trust me on this one, a company that was unhappy with you wouldn’t bat an eye before making you an unemployment statistic? So you put together a plan that will bring to reality what you want or choose to do as a career.
And most importantly what you choose to do should always be on the legal side of the law and whatever theological rules you adhere to, and should not be physically or mentally harmful to others.
Choices should most definitely reward you with happiness, fulfillment, and an enticing life.