Choose Must

For the last month I’ve been telling anyone who will listen about The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, a book by Elle Luna. In it, Elle encourages those who feel a deep sense of discontent to start choosing the musts in their lives and being more aware of the shoulds; the expectations that you feel from society, family, even friends.

As a typical oldest, must-please-everyone child (now adult), I’ve let the shoulds have a lot of control over my life: I should always have a job, I should be a good student, I should have a tidy home, I should be successful (society’s definition, not mine), I should know what I want to do with my life, I should make decent money, I should be the best wife/friend/daughter that ever existed, I should have a lot of friends, I should want X, Y and Z. Saying them out loud, I realize how silly they sound. But they are incredibly powerful–don’t be fooled.

In the books’s intro, Elle writes:

All too often, we feel that we are not living the fullness of our lives because we are not expressing the fullness of our gifts.

Only one other time in my life, almost 10 years ago, when I was first starting my career, did I read a book that so perfectly put how I felt – what I was struggling with – into words. Our gifts are our musts. The things that make you feel like you. The things that make you feel alive. The thing (or things) you would do even if you didn’t get paid to do it.

I raved about the book to my mom, who chose must by leaving a career in engineering in her late forties to pursue a doctorate in architecture. She bought herself a copy on her way to a hair appointment, read it out loud during her appointment, and left it with her stylist, who was anxious about an impending transition in her life. “It’s the type of book that you share,” she said. My mom picked up a second copy to finish and keep.

I told my sister about it, and rather than wait for her to get a copy, I went on Amazon and sent her one. She texted me the Sunday morning after it arrived, “Lazy Sunday, coffee and MUSTs.” After finishing the book later that day, she sent me another text saying that she was excited about life, which is exactly how I felt after reading it.


After posting a photo of the book to Instagram, my friend Katie, a fellow dreamer and pursuer of must, shared with me this podcast featuring Elle. In it, Elle dives a little more into her journey, what choosing must looked like to her, and describes her point-of-no-return moment.

As Elle writes in the book:

In my own life, I’ve found that things appear at the ideal time. Not before. And not after. Consider the possibility that this book made its way into your hands because you wanted it to. Because a part of you has seen a crossroads in your life, and you’re ready for the journey ahead.

In such a way, The Crossroads of Should and Must came into my life, one morning in Hawaii while on vacation. So did this podcast, which served as a reminder to stay true to the path of must. And so it is with so many other things in life. It’s my hope, that I can pass this along, pay it forward, and that whatever you need – maybe this post – will appear in your life just when you need it most.

Choose must.


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