Once upon a time in a land far, far away there were two kingdoms that were constantly fighting. In the Land of Could, the citizens spent their time daydreaming. They talked about all of the things they could do in a world filled with so many possibilities. Their neighbors in the Land on Should often criticized the people of Could for being unrealistic and unproductive. They were too busy talking about what they could do rather than getting things done.
Instead of focusing on the future, the citizens of Should were keenly aware of everything they needed to do in the present. Their daily obligations and the things they should do often left them no time to ever consider what else they wanted in their lives. They would end each day exhausted and anxious about all the things they still needed to do. They often got little sleep and led frantic lives.
The people of Could felt sorry for Should’s task-oriented nature and didn’t understand why anyone would want to waste their time doing so many things that wouldn’t really matter in the future. Yet they also often felt depressed because they hadn’t accomplished or achieved anything tangible in their lives, leaving them with a sense of uselessness. Their lives were lived in service to their future dreams rather than the present reality.
Right off the coast of the Land of Could, was a beautiful island with pristine beaches and endless hours of sunlight. Here, the people of Could were able to ignore these negative feelings of worthlessness and emptiness. They thrived off the collective energy of all of their dreams and ambitions. It was fondly called the Someday Isle.
Driven by restlessness and burn out, citizens of Should also vacation here to escape the pressures of their daily lives. Individuals from Should came to the Someday Isle to have space to think about all they wanted to do beyond their current responsibilities that suffocated them. Here, they traded in their endless “to do” lists for fruity drinks with colorful umbrellas as they talked about all the things that would happen someday when their lives were different.
The Someday Isle was neutral ground for both Kingdoms, where people intermingled as they escaped the reality of their lives. But even with the constant buzz of ideas, future plans, and big dreams, an unspoken understanding existed among the vacationers. They knew that after their visit was over, they would return to life as normal. At least until their next visit. Packing their suitcases and heading home, they would leave the temporary utopia where all felt right in the world – even for a moment.
What Kingdom do you live in?
Take a moment to consider how you currently spend your time. Are you constantly dreaming about all that could be, while neglecting to live in the present? Or are you too focused on all the daily tasks that you start “shoulding” on yourself and lose sight of the bigger picture? While each side has its costs and benefits, residing entirely in one Kingdom is limiting and even dangerous.
As the citizens of Could and Should discovered, it tempting to escape our lives altogether – even temporarily – to make them seem more desirable, or at least bearable. It’s easy to transport ourselves to the Someday Isle, to tell ourselves we can get through whatever is in our way now because “Someday, I’ll…”
- Have a better job
- Find the perfect partner
- Buy a bigger house
- Have a good hair day
- Be happy
Yet how many times do we put conditions on our present happiness by existing in the future of unfulfilled expectations?
Just north of the Someday Isle, there is a third Kingdom. Here, citizens view each day for the potential that it brings. They prioritize what they need to accomplish while still planning for the future. On most days, they don’t get lost in unrealistic daydreams or feel shackled by their “to do” lists. While this Kingdom isn’t perfect, it is impressive how balanced and friendly the citizens are. They go about their lives with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
When disappointment or frustration occurs, an outpouring of encouragement, support, and problem-solving is given by neighbors, co-workers, and friends. No one feels the need to vacation to the Someday Isle. Instead of wishing for the things they’ll someday do, they make them happen. They largely ignore the battle between the Lands of Could and Should. They don’t want to get caught in the middle of the madness, and their Kingdom is peaceful and productive.
Where do you want to live?
Don’t get trapped by the coulds and shoulds and somedays. Position yourself in a way that allows you to live in the Kingdom that you create. No life is free from all stress, challenge, or struggle. But you can choose to design your life in a way that honors your choices, passions, and dreams.
STOP “Shoulding” All Over Yourself!
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