06/24/2011 04:50 pm ET | Updated Aug 24, 2011

Stop 'Shoulding' Yourself

Step Away From the Shoulds!

Should? Did I hear you say the word "should!" I really should lose weight, I really should wait until I re-style my hair before I talk to that girl, guy, put in a skylight, record my expenses, or whatever you wish to plug in here. What's wrong with us? I see everyone doing it! I'll ask that woman out when I lose ten pounds.. I'll talk to the boss when I buy a new shirt.. I'll take a vacation after I put in a new water heater or remodel the closet or get a new car.. for heaven's sake.. we all do it!

I'll take a walk in the sunshine after I finish my emails. When my work is done, I'll treat myself to a manicure, pedicure, a trip to the Annenberg Space for Photography and check out the exhibit on beauty or the freaky Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA. Why don't you do what you want to do in the first place? Why aren't you being authentic to who you are?

Are you being driven by "shoulds?" I should clean my desk! I should put in new energy saving bulbs! Shoulds should be banished from the English language and every other language for that matter! We "should" ourselves to death! And speaking of death, one day reality rears its ugly head and you are no longer here. Then, who cares about your skylight being built? Not the universe! Maybe it would rather you learn to roller skate or change careers!

If you are living your own reality and are being true to your purpose and your gifts, you will take the time to take that walk, to put your email aside, to consider vacationing at a spa, or visiting a spa for an hour, or buying a room spray that smells citrusy or fresh like a spa! Grab that co-worker and tell him or her what a pleasure it is to work with him or her... well, delete the grab part! Take that walk and talk to the universe about your purpose.

Sometimes, we take what we know is important and bury it like a dog buries a bone, thinking we will dig it up for later but that later never comes. That skylight never gets built. That closet never gets remodeled. In my case, my herb garden never gets planted. But I will never be Martha Stewart. And that's because I am Patricia Rust. And I do it better than anyone! And you can go be you better than anyone!

I know someone who is always going to wax his car. But it never happens. Car washes do a great job and, these days, for reasonable prices. But no! He is going to wax it himself. We all have priorities and when I write about honoring your gifts and determining what they are and acting on them, these things take time and commitment! And life speeds by at breakneck speeds! If I go to see a movie and it doesn't captivate me, I'm out the door. Why give it two hours of my life?

I take the posture that life is short so please focus on the important things. The IRS and insurance companies already have us spending enough time filling out forms and taking our precious time, which, I for one resent because these tasks seem never-ending, right? But then again, nothing is ever really done, is it? Housekeeping, for example! Allow me to console with these words from my mother, "Good housekeepers are boring people."

My mother subscribed to the Auntie Mame school of "Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death." She knew her gifts: art, love, cooking, marriage, and child-rearing, and had her priorities: her children, my father, her women's club and church, and manifested an amazing legacy in every category. She mastered the art of coulds. "Be true to yourself," was her motto and it never failed her -- not original, but there is a reason it has been a truism for two thousand years.

Jackie Rust was an amazing teacher by virtue of how she lived. Her marriage lasted 65 years, her children both earned Ph.D.s and inherited her sense of humor and artistic ability, her husband was a happy and healthy one, she became a deacon of the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, and president of the Beverly Hills Women's Club, and a respected artist. She knew her gifts and manifested them. She always said, "Focus on your legacy. What will you leave behind?" There were no shoulds. There were a lot of "cans" and many an "anything is possible." And it is!

When you are authentic to your spirit and have determined your gifts and use them to serve mankind, your community, your family, and your soul, you become part of the collective and the universe propels you forward with energy and enthusiasm. So go for your dreams of coulds and cans and leave the shoulds behind.

Come close to the coulds and step away from the shoulds!

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