Get Out From Under the Career ‘Should Haves’

 In Career Tips

iStock_000027953766Small-AWhen I talk with women in my coaching practice and around the country about loving their work, some balk at the idea.  There is a contingent of women in the workforce who believe that the words ‘love’ and ‘work’ don’t belong in the same sentence, and many of these women are quick to pepper their conversations about jobs and career with an abundance of the word ‘should’.

On a regular basis I hear things like ‘It doesn’t matter that I don’t like my job, it’s just something I should do’ or ‘I should work in the family business because all my siblings do.’  I’ve talked with some women who believe it’s even honorable to do work they don’t like, and who think that the very definition of ‘work’ is constant toil and struggle.

Carrying the cursed ‘should’ banner through your work life can be a career straightjacket that greatly limits your life experiences and growth.  If you find that you are consistently unhappy at work, and talking yourself into your job because you believe it’s something you should do, it could be helpful to examine the reasons why.

In my coaching practice, I find that ‘shoulds’ are most commonly based on a belief system rooted in childhood.  If you grew up with parents or family members who were always unhappy and complaining about their jobs, then the idea of loving your work is probably new territory for you.

First imagine that it is possible to love the work you do day-to-day, and then explore these 5 steps that can help you start shedding those work life ‘shoulds’:

  • Give Yourself Permission. Start by letting yourself off the hook and allowing yourself to believe you can get paid to do work that you love.
  • Brainstorm. Write down ten things you love to do and why you love to do them.
  • Poll Your Circle of Trust. Ask close friends and family to write down their views of your strengths.
  • Get Good Counsel. Seek out career resources including in-person coaching, books on careers, and personality assessments to guide you towards work that’s well suited to your strengths and personality.
  • Protect Your Dreams. Distance yourself from people who are negative about work or toxic naysayers.

Every job has its challenges and ups and downs, but if you can get out from under the should’s and find a career/ job that is in alignment with your values, talents, personality and interests, then you’re more likely to find joy on the job.

With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals.  Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us.  Read more from Caroline at

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