The Crossroads of Should and Must

Several weeks ago I picked up Elle Luna’s new book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, and I started it and then set it aside for a while. I’m participating in The 100 Day Project and have been using my time to keep that going and some travel, but today I picked it back up and finished the book.

As I’ve said before, Elle’s original article on this topic didn’t appeal to me, it seemed to fall into the same category as so many that came before, telling me to find the thing that I must do, but not talking about the realities of the world we live in. I then listened to her speak about it and was glad to hear her talk about the responsibilities that we all have, we need to earn money and take care of our obligations. But the book goes much further in discussing the realities and practicalities of how to follow your passion and still meet those obligations.

Her section on money is the absolute best I’ve ever read in relation to the topic of finding what you love and doing it, it was so great to read. Plus the language she uses in terms of money needed to live resonated with me: Must Have and Nice to Have. And she’s right when she says in relation to Must Have, “This number is often smaller than you might assume. At it’s most basic, it includes food and shelter.” Even better, she gives a lot of examples of people who worked day jobs and did their passion in their off time, which I found really inspiring.

I also enjoyed her discussion of time, which I already agree with wholeheartedly. We aren’t busy, we are choosing how to spend our time and what we choose reflects what is important to us.

A few highlights below:

The author T. S. Eliot was also a banker. Another writer, Kurt Vonnegut, sold cars. One of the greatest composers of our time, Philip Glass, didn’t earn a living from his calling making music until he was forty-two. Even as his work was premiering at the Met, he worked as a plumber and renewed his taxi license, just in case. (p. 87)

Just because you have a job to pay the bills does not make it dirty. And just because you want to find your calling does not mean you need to quit your job. You get to play with these three types of work and decide what’s right for you and your life. (p. 87)

But what you don’t want is to take a job that was intended to pay the bills and suddenly, you don’t have time to explore your passion, you’re too tired to step into that which you were put on this earth to do. (p. 89)

Beyond the absolutes, money is a game, and you play it any way you want. (p. 92)

You make time for what you want. (p. 97)

If you’re not prioritizing the things you say you care about, consider the possibility that you don’t actually care about those things. (p. 97)

It turns out that the more intimate we are with what we want, the more self-aware we will be about how we spend our time. (p. 97)

The most effective way to find your Must is to find ten minutes. (p. 101)

You need a physical space—private, safe, and just for you. When you are in this space, you are not available. I repeat, you are not available. This is your sacred space to be by and with yourself. We all need safe containers. (p. 107)

When you play with new tools and methods, you will literally activate parts of your mind that have become hard to reach over time. (p. 108)