Should we have a MUST?

I’ve just listened to Elle Luna’s recent Creative Mornings talk in SF about should vs. must and how she had been dreaming about a large white room for a long time … her premise is that we often find ourselves at the crossroads between should and must and she recommends that we choose to follow our must … where our job=our career=our calling. If I go back into the recent past (like a month ago even), I would have probably agreed with her wholeheartedly but I have shifted since then and it has been a shift so subtle that you wouldn’t even notice but it’s been a shift of mammoth proportions — for me.

I have always dreamed big — for as long as I can remember, whether it was about the prince charming that would sweep me away to be his princess, or being a prima ballerina with crowds coming from far and wide to watch me dance, or the jazz singer that seduces every listener in the bar, or the profound artist that only the best of the best applaud. Since then, I have grown up a little and my dreams, while still big, have become a bit more realistic. They have shifted into growing massive businesses instead and my tries and fails have spanned a few different industries in the last 10 years or so. There’s no surprise that my businesses have varied — I am interested in many areas and have always wondered how folk know their one true purpose. Perhaps this is the problem and I have more work to do on the personal growth front, but I imagine that the last 20+ years of courses, coaching and self-reflection have afforded me some perspective — at least about myself.

The work I have been doing across the last 5 years, helping clients let go of stuff both physical and mental has followed my path of personal growth since having kids — of letting go of consumerism, relinquishing my need to ‘be cool’ by buying the latest {insert cool gadget, shoes, clothes, art, interiors items etc here}, dropping the idea of a career (I like having time with my family and time to LIVE) and not worrying so much that my brows aren’t perfect, my nails aren’t done, my hair is grey and I look middle aged. I never really cared for these things anyway as I truly believe that beauty has nothing to do with appearance but when I was younger, I definitely felt that I should do these things — to fit in, to find connection, to be successful. But since my AHA moment when I truly understood that success does not lead to happiness but rather that happiness leads to success and that the keys to happiness are actually quite simple, I have to say that I have made a huge leap and those expectations of myself have dropped away. A nice plus is that the depression that I lived with for 30+ years is now very light and I am happy most of the time. I’m not aiming for perfection (a sweet illusion dreamt up by very smart marketing folk) but a life that is pretty darned good.

Could things be better? Yes. Could things be worse? Yes. Is life pretty darned good? Also yes.

Working back through my childhood has made me realise that what all those dreams were about had nothing to do with ‘being cool’, fame, fortune or even just adoration but rather that what I have always craved was connection and a little bit of attention. To find folk that ‘get’ me or those that don’t entirely but care about me anyway or share some part of things that interest me. To find a place in a community, which strangely I figured out after listening to a speech by gay actor Wentworth Miller. (Inspiration comes in many forms, doesn’t it?!)

For me, this realisation was HUGE.

To be truly satisfied with my life, I need to find connection to a community that cares for me and accepts me as is, warts and all. That’s it.

Which leads me to the question that I started with — Should we have a must? Do we all have a calling? Do we even need to have one?

Where I’ve gotten to now leads me to believe that the answer is no. I do not need to leave a legacy when I die. To have loved and have been loved IS enough.

“I don’t need to do any of this.”

No striving, no pushing. The weight lifted. I found space to breathe again.

So while I wholeheartedly agree that questioning what we believe we should do is important — some of us may not have a must. For some, once we make the space to breathe, to think, to figure out why we do what we do, to create with our bare hands, then we might find our must but if not then that’s OK too. Who says we must have a must?

No one should.