The Tension Between Should and Can

In today’s world, we’re constantly exposed to ideas about how we could do things better. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.

I often feel immensely grateful to those who take the time to share their wisdom, experiences, and advice. (And if we're being totally honest, which I'm all for, I also help creatives find ways to share their own wisdom, experiences, and advice. I think it's really important that we all share what we know.)

But there are times when we allow all that information about doing things better stops us from doing anything—and that’s less beautiful.

Because sometimes what you truly need is to put your head down and do something. You need to put something out there, whether it’s an email telling someone how you can help them, a blog post that you know will make a difference, or an Instagram post that will connect with your people.

But it’s easy to get paralyzed by should:

I should redesign this PDF before sending it to this potential client. I know it could be better.

I should print out this blog post and read it before posting. I know it could be better.

I should sit down and plan out Instagram content for the next month. I know I could be doing better.

See, knowledge can be dangerous. Because not only do you know what you should do, you know what you could do.

The tough thing to figure out, then, is what you can do. Because should and could don't always account for the other factors in our lives. Do you have the time or mental energy to redesign that PDF plus clean your house before visitors arrive for the weekend? Do you have the time or mental energy to proofread your blog post one more time before you pick up your kids or dog from daycare? Do you have the time or mental energy to plan out Instagram content for the next month while also fulfilling obligations to current clients?

Sometimes the answer is yes—and if so, I say go for it. If you’re hit with a burst of insight and inspiration, and you find you have the time and energy and space, this may well be something you can do.

But sometimes the answer is no—and that’s when we often get stuck. Instead of thinking, Well, I’ll just send do this anyway, and then make a plan for doing it differently later on, we stop. We get paralyzed. We do nothing.

And doing nothing isn’t a great option.

So I say let’s commit to doing what we can. Let’s do the best with what we have now, rather than letting all the shoulds and coulds hold us back (oh, how good they are at holding us back!).

But let's not stop there. Let's also schedule time to sit down and get honest with ourselves. Here are some questions to ask when the shoulds and coulds creep in:

  • Do I want to make time and energy for that should or could?
  • What will happen if I don’t?
  • What are my other options?
  • Who could help me get it done?
  • What’s right for me?

When you take a few minutes to look carefully at nagging shoulds and coulds, you often find yourself more clearly understanding the things you can do—which feels like a pretty beautiful thing to me.



If you feel stuck in the should vs. can space, check out Email Coaching.

It’s a direct line to me where you present what’s making you feel stuck and then sit back and wait for me to write back with ideas, advice, resources, options—whatever feels right for your situation.

With a one-week turnaround time, it won’t hold you up from doing what you can—and might just help free you from a should or could or two.

Check it out right here!