If you are searching for clarity on how to follow your passion, to find the path that is perfect for you, The Crossroads Of Should And Must, Find And Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna is a must-read. It’s also a quick, short read but it asks us to sit with a very important question: Which one will you choose? The path of Should or that of Must?
Should is other people’s expectations of how you should live your life. Must is what you are called to do. The book unpacks the origin of our Should: what we inherit, what we are conditioned to believe we ought to do, what others feel we should do with our life. Think of it as a path that has already been set out for you. Now, explore what is your Must. What do you want to do? When I read this section of the book, I was reminded of the Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day. The last two lines of the poem go like this:
|Tell me, what is it you plan to do |
With your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
If you could do anything, what would you do? The path of Must isn’t carved or laid out for you. You are going to have to build it and that may be difficult. If you don’t already know what your Must is, the book suggests ways you can explore and find out what your Must is.
And then what?
Personal notes: There is so much I have learned on this topic, some lessons received second-hand, courtesy of writers like Luna and others (e.g. Julia Cameron, Elizabeth Gilbert) and many from my own life experiences.
1. This book was a succinct reminder that we face the crossroads of Should and Must. But more than that, it’s a reminder that these crossroads are presented to us every day, not just as some one-time decision.
2. Every moment of every day we make choices on the path we’ll take and the person we’ll choose to become. It’s up to us to be engaged with our life, to take time to reflect, and to have goals on where we’d like to be in a week, a month, a year and a decade. It’s up to us look at both the immediate and long-term consequences of the choices we make. Again, what will “you do with your one wild and precious life?”
3. There are times when your Should and your Must are not two roads that, in Frost’s words, “diverged in a wood”. You may have to work on the Should (e.g. maybe it gives you financial independence) while you engage with your Must. For others, doing what they want to do or are called to do, may mean that they have to quit their job and devote themselves to their Must and to following their passion. Only the individual can decide what will work for their situation.
There are many words for the things we do: work, career, vocation, calling, hobby, profession, life purpose, occupation. For some, one singular activity (yet another word!) is both profession and calling and that, once discovered, can bring great happiness. If I was to summarize what I learned from this book, others in this genre, and just from my life in general, it would be these three lessons (to be applied every day): 1) Take the time to reflect on what you are doing and whether it is what you want to be doing. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?; 2) Set goals for yourself, short and long-term. How can you become who you want to be? 3) Take action and make decisions that will lead you to become that future self.
To summarize even further, how can we live from the standpoint of creating the life we want as opposed to reacting to life? That’s all.