The Crossroads between Should and Must

you must

It is the title of the book I’m reading right now by Elle Luna. I bought it a couple of years back, but never read it. I found it on a bookshelf a few days ago while looking for something else, and it said to me: “It’s time for you to read me.” There’s a Talk by Google you may be interested in where Elle Luna talks about her work and the book.

I’m finding it interesting and at times difficult to read, not because of what it says, which is an amazing message, but because of what it means to me and all that brings back. 2020 brought massive changes to my life. None of those initial changes were of my choosing. Well, the pandemic was of nobody’s choosing…

One of the main messages of the book is this: “There are two paths in life: Should and Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And every day, we get to choose.” Should is how other people want us to live our lives: it’s all about someone else’s expectations. What we think is expected of us. Elle says that some shoulds are small like “You should listen to that song.” But other times, shoulds are influential systems of thought and pressure that coerce us to live our lives differently.

But what happens when some of those choices are made by someone else for you? How does that impact the path you choose? We were talking about the importance of saying no a few days ago on a Zoom call. And all the “shoulds” that crop up during the day that make us choose to do things that may not necessarily be the ones we want to do. Commitments, family, friends, work, cleaning, laundry, gardening … everything eats at our time. Time is precious and it is the one commodity that does not refill. Once time is gone … it is gone forever. We cannot get it back. That’s why I think it is important to get your shoulds clear, so you can get into your musts.

In the past two years, my passion, my art has become my job and my career. They became one and the same. The choices that were made for me at the time – as difficult as they were and still are sometimes – allowed me to take the Must path to do what I love to do the most: share my art and teach. I took that seriously during the pandemic and continue to take it seriously today. I am no longer going to work – I am the work as Elle says. So what I do is now who I am. What I do is who I am. My program, Create2Flourish was born from the crossroads. What would have happened if those choices someone else made had been different? Or not there at all?

c2f welcome

So most of the time now I try to choose Must – which allows me to live the life I want to live. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it is quite rocky. Must is who I am: what I believe and what I do. My authentic self: as vulnerable as they come. My passions. My desires. Elle says that to choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees. The last two years of Musts have been interesting. And if I were to look at my road map, it will contain a lot of turns, and counter-turns, backtracking, getting lost and moving forward.

long winding road

Must is to persevere in the face of uncertainty. Continue to do what you MUST do because that is the only path available. Elle shares the story of John Grisham who wrote every day for years before going to work as a lawyer. He shaped the stories into a novel and sent it to publishers. Even as editors rejected his book again and again, he kept going and eventually received a yes. John Grisham is today a household name. Just as John did, I continue to create and teach and learn because I must. And must doesn’t accept compromises.

But if MUST is so great, why don’t we choose it every day? That’s a good question. Come back next week, and I’ll tell you more about it.

Now, although I should go outside and pull weeds, I am musting myself to do some work. It’s pinned to my design wall waiting for me to come back to it. I’m off to must my day away.

Until I write again, I hope you go and Must. Keep creating.


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  1. Thank you Ana for this post. It speaks a lot to me too and I would like to share the concept with my sister as we are both on a similar journey. It has given me much to think about. Best wishes, Jean 🎎📜

    1. I am glad you found the post useful. Please share as the more people who read it, the better. Take good care and until I post again. Ana

  2. Beautiful Ana. Going to look that book up. I listen to books on Audible when working in my studio. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your own process. It really helps. xoxo Glorianne

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