This guest post is the first in a four-part series written by Elle Luna, the author of The Crossroads of Should and Must. The book is an inspirational and highly visual book for anyone seeking change. The Crossroads of Should and Must gives you the tools to consider the big life question, “How can I find and follow my true calling?”
What is meant by “Should” and “Must”and how do they intersect?
Should is measured by expectations and how other people want us to live our own lives. Sometimes, Shoulds are small and easily accommodated. You don’t usually think twice when a friend says, “you should listen to that song” or “you should watch that movie.” But in other cases, Shoulds pressure us to live our life differently. They’re behind statements such as “You should be more practical” or “You shouldn’t become an artist because it’ll be too hard.”
Must is different — it’s who we are and what we believe. Unlike Should, Must does not compromise. Must happens when we stop conforming to other peoples’ vision of us and start connecting with our own ideas. In fact, choosing Must — heeding the call to follow your passion — is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.
The Crossroads is the point where you must decide between living the life others want you to live, or living the life you were meant to live. You might arrive at the crossroads in a big way several times in life, such as when you’re applying to college, choosing a job or changing a career. And you can also face the crossroads every day when you decide to listen or to act on what feels right and true for you, or for someone else. Each time — regardless of what you’ve chosen before — you have the power to choose Must. Again and again.
Why should you follow your passion?
Consider this story:
“A lawyer in his thirties chose Must every day for years as he awoke at 5 a.m. to write his stories about harrowing crimes and evil doings, all before going to his job at the courthouse.” (34) After three years, he shaped his stories into a novel. Even though his manuscript was rejected again and again, he kept pursuing his Must. This man’s name? John Grisham.
Each of us have unique potential that was given to us at birth. Some of us are born artists. Others are born strategists. When you choose Must, you cultivate your unique potential and share it with the world. As Abraham Maslow once said,
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.” (78-79)
Imagine who you can be if you simply let yourself be you.
When making a life-altering change, the most self-affirming step you can take is to honor the voice inside that says, “you have something special to give,” and heed the call to action. Many have traveled this road before, and The Crossroads of Should and Must provides the tools and inspiration you need to start this journey.
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Elle Luna paints, designs, and writes. She also runs a textile venture, the Bulan Project, a collaboration between designers and master batik artists in Bali, and has previously worked as a designer at IDEO and with startups including Mailbox, Medium, and Uber. She speaks to groups around the world, sharing the story of “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” and lives in San Francisco and online at elleluna.com.