How many times every day do you use or hear the phrases, “I should” ,“I have to” or “I need to”? Don’t know? Start paying attention and keep track. Soon you will realize that shoulds, have tos and need tos could be running your life; at the very least, they could be making you a little crazy and overwhelmed with perceived obligations around every corner.

You know deep down what is necessary, what is important and what you want to do to make your life happier and more creative. The trick is to turn the obligations around so that you want to do those things and find joy in the doing. You may be thinking, “How can I possibly do that when I have all these responsibilities and people count on me?” or something along those lines.

Just for starters, try this: When you hear yourself saying, “I should be…” convert it to, “I could be…”. When you say, “I have to…” or “I need to…” change it to, “I want to…”. This may not make sense at first because it will feel like a lie, and very well could be a lie. In this highly productive, fast paced world of expectation, we are bombarded from all sides with information and images of how to succeed and how to do better, not to mention stories of super people who appear to have it all that we strive to emulate.

The point of this article is to acknowledge that we are all creative beings who deserve to be happy, and to open the door to possibilities one step at a time. In converting perceived obligations into proactive statements, we keep the power. After doing this exercise for a while, you can get a handle on what is most important to you and simplify by sticking to those things. You will find that many of your shoulds, have-tos and need-tos are not essential to your life, your goals or your happiness. You can let them go, which frees up a lot of time for you to find joy and accomplish what is important to you and your loved ones.

Perhaps you know someone who is full of great ideas for what you should do, projects you should take on or community events you should participate in. It is nice to have idea people in our lives, but they can become overwhelming, particularly when they see us beginning to do things differently and make positive changes on our own. How do you stop them? Well, you may not be able to stop them entirely, but you can turn the tide.

Try this: The next time someone pushes a “great idea” or obligation on you that you aren’t interested in, reply with something like, “That’s a great idea. It sounds like something you would be really good at.” The world is full of people with big ideas that someone else should do. You have your own ideas, your own dreams and your own creative spark. Set yourself free from busy-work and other people’s ideas. Create your own happiness and your own life.

Author's Bio: 

Heather Loewen is the author of "101 Reasons to be Yourself", a book for positive change and living more creatively. She also writes the 101 Reasons to be blog.