Preventing the Woulda Shoulda Coulda’s

The easiest thing in the world is to beat yourself up using these three little words: woulda shoulda coulda.  I would have done this had I known, I should have taken this other path, I could have been so much more….


Stop it.


The second easiest thing in the world is to tell someone to knock it off.  I did it in two words above and yes, it was very easy to do!  Seven little key strokes and voila – problem solved.  Seven not counting the space bar – should that count, if so then eight little key strokes and an end to the world’s problems.


The woulda/coulda/shouldas normally come with you regret something.  As soon as you open your mouth and those words come out, you decide and act upon an action or neglect a certain thing those moments are instantly gone.  Regret can appear and linger but the event itself is over, gone, set in stone, no longer available to erase.


No turning back the clock and redoing it.


When I talk to clients about their woulda/shoulda/couldas I have found an underlying theme – they ignored their instinct or intuition.


In job searching or finding their own way there is so much self-doubt and uncertainty that it is very common to begin to ignore their own “gut feelings”.  You almost tell yourself not to trust it because perhaps there was something you had done in the past that lead you to this point and maybe it was tied in to your instinct so really, can you trust it now?


Or maybe such fear of the unknown you do not give yourself credit for having a correct “feeling” about upcoming situations.


Whatever the case we start to ignore our instincts, intuition or gut feelings, which are important factors in job searching and making your own way.  They are a matter of survival and sanity.


When my clients have a job prospect I always ask them how they feel about it.  I listen for their gut instincts as they are critical.  I try to help my clients begin to recognize them, trust them and allow them to become a part of their life again.


Here are some tips on recognizing and rebuilding these critical tools.


Take the emotion out.  When a thought comes to you if it is a gut feeling it normally is emotionless.  If you are unsure if it is fear, ego or your gut instinct think about the thought itself and if there is any feeling attached to it.  If there is none than it is your instinct talking – listen.


Don’t argue with yourself.  When a thought instantly pops in your head make a note of it mentally or physically without adding or subtracting from it.  Removing the instant urge to argue it will help you see it independently and recognize it for what it is without letting fear or ego destroy it.


Believe in yourself.  If you have a gut reaction to something believe in yourself that it is there for a reason; and no, you are not crazy.


Allow it to be heard.  This means stop talking or thinking down on yourself and allow the thought to come and allow them to come at their time.  Just because you are facing a difficult situation do not expect to have an instant reaction.  It will come when you need it to, not when you always want it to.


Relax.  No matter what you are going through it is a phase.  It may be a short phase or a really, really long phase, but it is indeed a phase.  It will pass.  Whether it passes on to something better or worse is up to you, but it will pass.  No matter what you face today the landscape will change.


Give yourself permission to feel all the things that come to you good or bad and forgive yourself for the shoula/woulda/couldas.  Then you can allow yourself to move on at your time letting your instincts, gut feelings and intuition as a valuable tool.


Yesterday I did not finish a project that I wanted to, not because of anything other than honestly my own procrastination.  I went to bed last night really kicking myself about it.  I knew I should have gotten it done, I was wishing I would have gotten it done and I could have gotten it done.  But I didn’t.  I knew I should have, not just because it was something I wanted to accomplish, but because I had a feeling that it needed to be done yesterday.


This morning I got a call that my step-son arrived in town much earlier than anticipated and I needed to drop everything to go let him in the house.  His dad was running late and luckily for me we got to spend the entire afternoon together just the two of us.


Unfortunately, at the time of the call I was right in the middle of the project and had to just stop and save it as it was.  When I came back I had some difficulty getting back into the proper frame of mind to complete it and it also took time away from spending more time with my step-son.


The project is complete.  But now I have had to push some other things off my to-do list because my family takes first priority.  Which means Sunday I will be doing double time.  All this could have been avoided if I had listened to that little voice yesterday.


Now I can either stress about how things sit or I can go finish a couple things then have dinner with my family and be thankful that the oldest arrived safely and I have the opportunity to spend time with him.  I gladly choose the later while knowing that next time – I’m going to listen to that little voice.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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