"Want" not "Should"

Just started listening recently and I was intrigued by the 3 question “naval gazing” (as David called it) that Mike described. I have one suggestion. Instead of asking yourself “What should I start doing” and “What should I stop doing”, you could consider asking “What do I want to start doing”. This subtle word changes how I think about what I’m doing. I’ve tried to eliminate the word “should” from my vocabulary, when talking to myself or when speaking for others. No one else wants to hear it said to them, why “should” I say it to myself?

Second thought: David talked about “being that guy who does electrical” and having trouble letting it go even though mathematically it made sense for him to pay someone to do it. I had this same though process, because my dad grew up during the depression, so you always did what you could on your own. My guilt disappeared when I read a statement in the Number One Women’s Detective Agency by Andrew McCall Smith.

When you have money, you owe it to society to employ people to do things for you.

This suddenly made me feel like I was helping people rather than burdening people when I hired them, even if it was to clean my toilet. I’m helping the economy too!

Great show guys,


I help the economy every day. :wink:

Thanks for the comment @podfeet, I like how you tweaked it to make it work for you. I think people should do this more with the productivity advice they get! For me personally, “should” works better than “want” because (in my mind anyway) it frames my time as a limited resource. There are lots of things I “want” to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s the appropriate use of my time. So “should” helps me take it a step further from “yes this is worth doing” to “this is worth doing now.” I totally get how that wouldn’t work for someone else, but that’s how my brain works :slight_smile:


I think it’s important to think about both “want” and “should”. In the larger scheme of things, it’s particularly important to think about how these intersect.

Things that I want to do and should do:
Short term - do these things.
Long term - figure out how to arrange my life so I am doing more stuff that fits both “want” and “should”.

Things that I should do but don’t want to do:
Short term - make sure these things get done, regardless of my lack of motivation to do them.
Long term - figure out how to arrange my life so that I am doing less of these things, whether it’s delegating/outsourcing them, changing what I’m doing so that these things are no longer necessary, etc.

Things that I want to do but aren’t things I should be doing right now:
Short term - do these things to the extent that I can avoid impacting the things that I should be doing. Maybe as a side project, doing something on spec, improving my skills to the point I can make money doing this, etc.
Long term - figure out how to arrange my life so that I should be doing these things, whether it’s changing jobs/careers, becoming a free agent or changing what free agent skills I’m marketing to clients, etc.

Things that I neither want to do nor should be doing:
Short term - don’t do these things (it’s surprising how easily we can end up doing stuff that we don’t enjoy and aren’t really necessary).
Long term - try to keep any of these things from moving into the “should” category if I can.

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