I read and subscribe to lots of blogs, and one of the really beneficial things about that is the daisy-chaining affect blogging can have when you’re reading a blogger who crossposts and introduces you to another great blog to follow. love.life. eat blogger Felicia Sullivan recently posted about defining your dream, quoting another blogger Elle Luna,
There are two paths in life: Should and Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And each time, we get to choose. Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small. Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. –Elle Luna’s “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion” (April 7, 2015)
Sullivan continues on her blog to unpack her should/must journey and it’s very interesting but not unfamiliar. I think that’s something all artists, and maybe all humans, struggle with – the tension between things we should do (Responsibilities with a capital R) and the things we must do (the Wants and Drives in our lives) – with the sweet spot being the places in our lives when these two overlap. Doing what we love, doing what we’re called to do; I know I’ve read others who will spin it in a way that if your daily “work” doesn’t feel like “work” then you’ve meshed the two and you’re following your calling. Stephen Covey will call this “Sharpening the Saw”.
For some of us, that could mean being a paid author, rather than working a day job and writing in the spare moments around everything else. And if we fall into a habit of answering too many Shoulds vs. Musts, we tend to get lost because we conform to an external created expectation of ourselves instead of nurturing and developing an essence of who we are.
Luna’s words and Sullivan’s examples resonated with me because for a while, I’ve been waking up very anxious with this horribly crowded feeling in my head. I’m a list maker, and sometimes it’s helpful to order the many shoulds and musts in my life, but usually my musts get pushed to the bottom of the list. The musts take a bit more time to get into (figuring where I left off – if it’s working on my WIP, studying music, or getting back into exercise) but generate mental and physical health and well being; they are self-sustaining and there’s even some left over stuff to aide in accomplishing the Shoulds. But they’re hard to schedule because they’re self-motivated, self-directed and, above all, quiet. Much easier to ignore than my laundry piles, dirty dishes or even mindless TV or Interwebbing.
What about you? What does your Should/Must list look like? How do you find the balance between the two?