Should-Free Living by Heather Strang – Career

I should work out more.

I should wait to apply for that position until I’m more qualified.

I should want to get married and have children.

Sound familiar? If you ever find yourself making choices based on what others (parents, friends, religious leaders, co-workers, etc.) think you should do, rather than what your heart desires – then this column is for you. Each month we’ll feature questions from fabulous women like you who are ready to abandon the should’s and step into their most authentic life.

(Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space. So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life!)


Dear Heather,

I own my own small business doing creative work I love. To supplement my business, I work a part-time office job, but it’s not a career for me and I’m not passionate about it: it’s pretty mundane. I’ve been thinking about quitting the day job to focus on my own business full-time. However, I’m a single mother of two small children, have a mortgage … and a lot is at stake if I fail. My boring day job is pleasant, flexible and pays well.

Am I being too timid in making a positive change, or should I hang on to the security of working for someone else? Or perhaps: are my career expectations set a little too high?

C.H., Portland, Ore.

Dear C.H.,

First, kudos to you for operating a business you love – that’s something worth celebrating! And because you know what your heart ultimately wants, it’s important to form a plan that both your head (I should keep the part-time job for stability and income.) and your heart (I should be doing the work I love full-time.) can agree on.

Here are my recommendations:

– Start by removing the word “fail” from your vocabulary. There’s no such thing as failing – there are only experiences in life. Some are great and some are not so great. But, bottom line, each experience teaches you something invaluable. Create a positive, success “I AM” statement, such as “I am successful in everything I do.” Say it daily.

– Write out exactly what your ideal working situation looks like, so you’re 100 percent clear on your heart’s desire. Describe the office environment (home office if that’s the case), what you wear, who your clients are, how much money you make, etc. The more specific the better.

– For added clarity, create a vision board showcasing all of the items on your list. Put it up in front of your desk and look at it every day. Trust that what you desire is on its way.

– Create a timeline to slowly shift out of your part-time work and into your full-time passion. Look at the ages of your children: When will they begin to gain more independence? When one receives his/her driver’s license or when they go to school?  Whatever it is, start putting together a plan, so your heart knows your full-time passion-filled life is on its way and your head knows you aren’t leaping without looking first.

– Begin taking on an extra project or two each month, reserving that cash specifically for an emergency savings fund. Having 3-6 months of income put away will ease your fears about shifting into your business full-time.

– Look into working with a coach to assist you in preparing the plan and taking action.

With clarity surrounding your dream, a plan in place and some extra cash in savings, you’ll be able to let go what you “should” do and move into what you want to do.

Much love & blessings,


Dear Heather,


I struggle a lot with the idea that women should be wives and mothers.  As a freelance photographer, I worry about my career and how much it would take a back seat if I were to take on the wife/mother roles.  And honestly, for me, that is something I’m not interested in right now, so I feel selfish for wanting to focus on myself.  I keep on waiting to wake up one day dying to have a baby, but that hasn’t happened yet.

-Leah Nash, Photographer, Portland, Ore.


Thank you for this question – it’s a biggie for a lot of women. I mean, we should want to have babies, right? While our society may assert that a woman is selfish for wanting to focus on her career more than a child, it’s simply not true. It needn’t be one or the other. Women who have children run full-time businesses, while others (perhaps, like yourself) prefer to go sans child to focus on other important aspects of their lives.

Instead of feeling bad about not having the mommy urges, go out and live your most magnificent life – unencumbered. And if you do decide to have kids someday, enjoy and embrace that with just as much passion.

Here are some tips for letting go of the should’s surrounding your career and having children:

– Create “I AM” statements that empower you into your most fabulous life. Example:
I am a successful photographer and I create the best life for me.
I am proud to be independent, free and fiercely talented.

The point is to feel so empowered about who you are that other people’s “should’s” don’t get in your way.

– Write your bucket list. If you haven’t seen the movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, I highly recommend it. Make a list of all of the experiences you want to have before you die.

– Start creating a timeline for your list and begin putting it into action. Today.

– Create a blog filled with your adventures to share with friends and family. That way they won’t have to ask why you aren’t having kids, they’ll already know you’re too busy living an incredible life.

Now, go be your fabulous self (and be sure to report back)!

Much love and blessings,