Have you ever thought about the difference between “should” and “must”? As a person who is using English as a second language, usually, I use the two terms synonymously. I use both of them to represent a situation where I am obligated to do and I have no other choices but to do it. Well, after reading this book, I realized how much “should” I have in my life where all that I need to have a meaningful life is to focus on my “must”.
Although the main argument in this book is not new, the author provides a very interesting and straight-to-the-point discussion that will help you to take immediate responsibility towards your “must”.
What is the difference between “should” and “must”?
Elle Luna, the author of the The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion book illustrates that “should” is everything we do to please and follow others’ opinions, while “must” is everything we do to follow our values and believes. Elle discussed how we all have these two paths in our lives. Whatever we do is either to fulfill external obligations or internal obligations. Sooner or later, we will face the situation that she described nicely when she said: “I was quickly approaching a crossroads in my life”; a crossroads between living a life that is filled with others’ “should” or more of our own “must”.
Where does the “should” path come from?
It is not very difficult to realize that the “should” path that we walk was originally come from our parents, our close family members, and the surrounding environment when we were children. Therefore, as we grow up, we find it is easier to continue following the “should” path rather than trying to re-examine it and criticize it in order to step into our “must” path.
How can we get rid of the “should” and find the “must” in our life?
Firstly, remember this quote:
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path,” Joseph Campbell said. “Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
Elle suggested asking different questions to deeply understand each “should” in our life. Simply, ask yourself: “What is the origin of each should? How it got there? and when we first began to integrate it into our decision-making?”. Accordingly, Elle suggested three methods to find our “must” path:
- Ask your mom: remember, or ask the elder family members about, the things that you enjoyed doing while you were a child. Did you enjoy doing these things by yourself or with groups? Were you a day optimizer or daydreamer?These answers represent the early signs of your “must”.
- Write your obituary: how do you prefer others to remember you when you are no longer there. The answers represent the things that really matter to you.
- Acquire one new skill a month: in order to find what really nourish your soul, commit yourself to do one new thing and to acquire one new skill each month. Maybe these skills and activates look irrelevant but at the end, you will be able to recognize a pattern among them. You can achieve that by continuously evaluating them; are they group activities or individual activities? Do they fall under one field or in different fields? Ask questions as many as you can in order to find a recurring pattern or a common theme.
What if the “must” path is more difficult?
What if we find our “must” path but still feel that it is difficult to pursue? Well, you are not alone. Elle illustrated four kinds of concerns that usually people have when they think about walking their “must” path and put some suggestions to overcome them.
- Firstly, money; what if doing what we love doesn’t pay? To overcome this concern, we need to know how much money is enough; differentiate between the Must-Have and the Nice-to-Have amount of money.
- Secondly, time; finding the time to do what we “must” do. The solution is to create a daily habit of dedicating a small amount of time to work on our “must”.
- Thirdly, space; a physical space to do the things that we believe they should be on our “must” path. The solution is to get creative in finding/ renting/ creating this space and trying to find a physiological space that provides silence, calm, and solitude.
- Finally, vulnerability. To overcome this, be comfortable with big fears and self-doubts.
To clear those four concerns, just begin somewhere.. just take one action at a time. Remember, “The most sustainable Musts happen slowly, thoughtfully, and quietly. They don’t happen impulsively but are built with a sober, calm intention”. Choosing the “must” path is a daily decision you take again and again.