This morning as I sat down in my local Starbuck’s, I got my regular Venti black coffee, and opened up my laptop to do some work. Of course, before I actually started work I had to make my regular check-in on Facebook and see what was on people’s minds for today. Sure enough, a status update caught my eye written by a former co-worker who I rarely talk to.

This morning, his status update fit in nicely for what I had hoped to write about today. It said “This is MY LIFE, YOU decide YOURS.” He undoubtedly had not meant to inspire a blog post, but sure enough that’s what happened.

See, before I had come to Starbucks, I read a great pictorial post from Marc and Angel about the 40 questions everyone is afraid to ask. One that stuck out to me was “Life is too short to tolerate _____” And I filled in my own blank.

Life is too short to tolerate the word should.

The world is ripe with people who are ready to share their opinion on how we ‘should’ live our life. After a recent decision to work from my home instead of the traditional office, I opened myself up to this word more than I had anticipated. I know who I am and I love the focus and productivity I have gained by working out of my home. However, there are plenty of people who are quick to offer up their opinion on why this is not the right course for me and what I ‘should’ be doing instead.

And it’s that word “should” that is so toxic. There are certain truths that we must own about ourselves. For example, I know that I:

  • Love working from home, and don’t get lonely because I uphold my social life outside of regular working hours
  • Don’t believe there is only one strategy that will work to make every single person happy and successful.
  • Life is way too short to wake up each morning trying to live someone else’s dream.

When we are doled out the advice that is supposed to improve our life, it is hard to not take it with a grain of salt. Sure these people who enjoy telling us how we should live our lives are ‘only trying to help’. The problem is, while they’re trying to help, you’re too busy owning your life to know if their advice is something worthwhile or not, while they are wasting theirs trying to figure out who you should be.

In business, this is no different. We are met daily with people – shareholders, investors, customers, and co-workers – who are ready, and in fact eager, to tell us what we should be doing. They tell us how we should live our lives, what we should do in business, where we should advertise, promote, and who we should talk to. They offer up a word of advice, but really their advice is really what they think they or their business “should” be doing, not yours.

Now, I am a firm believer that it is important to listen to your customers. But it is even more important that you know your goals, and the path that you are on to know if what they are suggesting is the right path for your product or company. And as a solopreneur, there are times when it is OK to say no to a client that is not fulfilling the goals you have to help propel your business forward.

Take a moment and define your life and your business. Consider:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • What your own experience has taught you about how to be successful
  • Who the real business owners are who are just like you that will understand your vision

There are no workbooks that exist that will give you a straight shot down the path of life filled with happiness and success. But there are suggestions that you can personally choose to take or leave. Don’t listen to the word ‘should’. Instead, listen to what the person is suggesting, and make your own decision of whether or not that piece of advice is right for you.

Whatever your destination – coffee shop owner, mother, airline pilot, or journalist – it’s important to own what you’re doing. You create your own destiny, and listening to the ‘should’s’ of the world will only get you off your own course and onto someone else’s.

Own your life, own your actions, and do what you know is necessary to make YOU happy and successful.

What is life too short for you to tolerate?

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