Journey to fixing my mindset: Wants over Shoulds

What do you want to do?

This is a question that not too long ago, I didn’t actually know how to answer. Firstly because I simply had nothing I wanted to do or didn’t know what I wanted and secondly because my mind was always thinking about the future. Consequently, my mind was always geared towards asking “What should you do?” instead of “What do you want to do?”.

In this post, I’ll address a part of my second catalyst. As a reminder, here it is:

  1. I started reading “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie, which opened my eyes to the truth that I was spending most of my living hours, not only thinking about the future, but actively worrying about the future.

As I said when I first stated the catalyst, the biggest takeaway I got from the book is mentioned in the first 100 pages or so (I don’t actually know because I’m reading it on Kindle and I have “Loc” instead of pages lmao) and it is that the vast majority of people worry about two things: The Future or The Past.

In other words, this is about living in the present, which as I’ve mentioned before, is something that I often heard, but never truly understood what it meant.

Let’s talk about the future for a bit shall we?

The future is a wonderful place where all your aspirations and dreams lie. It is even more wonderfully so because there’s no work that needs to be done or we mostly never imagine the work that needs to be done. If I want to own a 30 million dollars house, I simply imagine owning it and that’s it. I own it in my future mind. How exactly am I going to afford it or how exactly am I going to get 30 million dollars + ? Doesn’t matter, that’s a problem for the current me to figure out. Another example is owning a YouTube Channel. Wouldn’t it be great if I had millions of subscribers and I can chill all day and do whatever I want , whenever I want (even though I don’t know what that would be) while being adored by my fan base for basically being myself and getting paid to do it? Shit, isn’t that the dream?

P.S Those are just 2 random examples that aren’t really my aspirations and probably aren’t yours either. They were simply things that “seemed” nice to say out loud.

Okay, now let’s get hit by reality.

The reality is that making the future a reality isn’t about thinking about it. Yes, it is good to remind ourselves of our goals in order to renew our motivation; however, no amount of thinking will ever make it become true. The reality is that to make the future a reality, we need to take action NOW, in the present, every single day, for multiple weeks or months or years and then, and only then, will our desired future become a reality.

The problem with this is that well, I tend to reverse engineer a lot of my goals. This means that I’ll start with the end in mind and ask myself what SHOULD I do now in order to complete my future goal(s). For example, if my goal is to make 1 million dollar per year, then this means I should be making 1 000 000 / 12 = ~83k per month, which means I should be making 83 000 / 4 = ~21k per week, which means I should be making ~3k per day. Okay, I just did the calculation live on the spot and holy shit, that’s A LOT per day man hahaha that’s like my whole month’s salary in 1 day LOL.

Anyway, I digress.

The result of me thinking only about my future + me reverse engineering my future is equal to me constantly doing things I should be doing every day. As a result of that, I was always, always miserable because I never had time to think about what I wanted to do right now OR I never had time to do things that I actually wanted to do that day. Like watching anime is something I loved to do, but while I was watching an anime, the back of my mind what thinking “STOP, watching anime does not bring you closer to your future, you should be writing a newsletter right now.”

That is why, for the past few weeks, I’ve only been doing things that I WANT to do. And guess what? It’s freaking fantastic ! I mean, of course, I have some chores to do here and there and those are things that I “should” do, but besides those, it’s only about wants ! I think mentally the difference is that when you do things for the “should” it feels like it’s not really your decision to do it as if someone was forcing you and I don’t think anyone likes to be forced to do things.

AH ! This just reminds me that my dad actually told me about this difference between “should” vs “want” and that I “should” always say that I want to do things. Took me about 3-4 years to understand what he meant, but hey, I made it ! And it’s not because that’s how I should think, it’s actually because I want to think like this 😉

I guess that’s why most people are not very receptive to people telling them what to do even if it’s good for them. Everything becomes shoulds instead of wants and it’s only when they want to do it that they actually do it and feel good about it too.

okay, this is getting a bit long, but the BEST example I can give about shoulds vs wants is that I am currently building an application. YES, I am CODING. And here’s the difference. Before, I used to despise coding because I always thought that it’s something I should do.

I am a software engineering, therefore I SHOULD be coding.

If I want to become a better engineering, I SHOULD start coding applications.

If I want to become a product manager, I SHOULD build applications.

At my job, I don’t want to code their application. It’s something that I SHOULD be doing since that’s my job. (Okay, I can reverse this statement by saying “I WANT to get paid therefore I want to code their application because if not, I won’t get paid. But I personally find that it’s a bullshit statement).

Whereas now, these are the only statements I am making:

I am currently building an application because I want to build one. It’s cool, it’s fun, I get to learn stuff and okay, maybe it helps with my PM aspirations also 😉

I am currently running outside because I want to run. I don’t even know what distance I’m running. I just give myself a goal of never stopping and I just go.

I am currently building a no-code app with Glide because I want to build one. It’s something that’s useful to me and it’s fun to create.

Alright, that’s it. Try to remember WANTS > SHOULDS (but only if you want to :p )