Take a “should” inventory

Last week got away from me quickly, and I didn’t have a chance to get the third post out about our discussion on anxiety causing “shoulds.” (Yes, all week, I was saying to myself, “I should sit down and write.”) *Sigh; it’s a never-ending battle.

Click here for the previous post, in case you missed it

take a should inventory

A should inventory

If you feel anxious and overwhelmed, I almost guarantee you have a whole list of “shoulds” following you around.

Every once in a while, it’s helpful to take stock of what is valuable and wipe out what is not. There are necessary shoulds that motivate and propel us forward—like my should to write. But often, most shoulds are unrealistic and paralyze us in a state of overwhelm.

Here’s a helpful exercise for you to do:

Write down everything you feel you have to do that’s been on your mind, whether for the day, week, month, or even year.

  1. What is truly a necessity? What has to be done? Star those things and move them over to the other side of the paper. Those are your must-do’s.
  2. What are the things that maybe you’d like to do but may not have time for? Circle those.
  3. What things would you like to do that you can push off or revisit later, maybe in a week, month, or year? Put a square around them.
  4. Now. What are the things on the list that you genuinely don’t have to do or want to do? More importantly: is there anything that just doesn’t matter to you—things that you feel are there because of expectations (yours or someone else’s?) Those are unnecessary shoulds.

Okay, now cross off all those #4’s; the ridiculous to-dos or “shoulds” that don’t matter to you. 

Those things you HAVE to do and the things you would like to do—These are the things that matter. The rest of it is entirely unnecessary for YOU.

Write out your new list of to-do’s and ask God for his help in letting the unnecessary, unrealistic “shoulds” go for good.

This is a practical tool when you feel your “shoulds” are getting out of control. Plus, it’s a tangible and simple reminder that even though we still “should” on ourselves from time to time, God never does. Instead, he enables us to work through our shoulds and use our time to honor Him. I pray this simple exercise helps you to rest in the grace and power He has given you. 

As always, friend, thank you for stopping by, 

*This post was featured on soul food Saturday by Living By Design Ministries.

Republished with permission from
To read more of Susan’s writing, visit

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