Who hasn’t asked the question “How can I find and follow my true calling?” Elle Luna frames this moment as “standing at the crossroads of Should and Must.” “Should” is what we feel we ought to be doing, or what is expected of us. “Must” is the thing we dream of doing, our heart’s desire. And it was her own personal journey that inspired Elle Luna to write a brief online manifesto that, in a few short months, has touched hundreds of thousands of people who’ve read it or heard Elle speak on the topic. Now Ms. Luna expands her ideas into an inspirational, highly visual gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker, every career changer. The Crossroads of Should and Must has a universal message—we get to choose the path between Should and Must. And it gives every reader permission to embrace this message. It’s about the difference between jobs, careers, and callings. The difference between going to work and becoming one with your work. Why knowing what you want is often the hardest part. It gives eye-opening techniques for reconnecting with one’s inner voice, like writing your own obituary (talk about putting life in perspective). It talks about the most common fears of choosing Must over Should—money, time, space, and the ultimate fear: total vulnerability—and shores up our hesitation with inspiring stories of and quotes from the artists and writers and thinkers who’ve faced their own crossroads of Should and Must and taken the leap. It explains the importance of mistakes, of “unlearning,” of solitude, of keeping moving, of following a soul path. Presented in four chapters—The Crossroads, The Origin of Should, Must, and The Return—inspired by the hero’s journey outlined by Joseph Campbell, The Crossroads of Should and Must guides us from the small moment, discovering our Must, to the big moment—actually doing something about it, and returning to share our new gifts with the world.
Elle Luna is a designer, painter, and writer. She facilitates a global art movement, #The100DayProject, where creators make every day for 100 days, and has previously worked as a designer at IDEO and with teams on apps and websites, including Medium, Mailbox, and Uber. Ms. Luna speaks to groups around the world sharing the story of The Crossroads of Should and Must. She lives in San Francisco and online at www.instagram.com/elleluna.
Publish It was a Tuesday around 7A.M. when I clicked “Publish” on an essay on Medium.com titled “The Crossroads of Should & Must.” We share things online. Every day. All the time. But something about this thing was different. So different, that in a few short weeks, it was tweeted to over five million people and read by over a quarter million readers. “Drop everything you’re doing and read this right now,” one woman posted. “This article changed my life,” wrote another. “I was about to send it to all of my employees,” wrote one CEO, “but I assumed that a third of them would quit if they read it. But you know what? If they don’t want to be here, I want them to quit—so I sent it.” The emails poured in. The tweets lit up my phone. The article spread through the Web in a flash, and then flashed some more. It continued to shine and grow and, well, here we are. I decided to write this book because of the people who shared their stories with me and the pain and courage I felt in their struggle. Women in their thirties. Men in their twenties. A high school senior. Fathers. A widow. Single moms. Millionaires who were poor. Poor people who were millionaires. Teachers. Lawyers. A musician disguised as a lawyer. A poet who loved to drive a city bus. Women who didn’t want kids. Fathers who wanted to raise kids. People who felt stuck in their jobs and people who were so desperately grateful to have a job at all. The pain cut across gender, location, and age. And at its essence, the pain was this— 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. I heard from people who seemed willing to do anything to make their dissatisfaction go away, but they didn’t know what to do. I wrote this book to share what I have found most helpful in navigating my own journey, as well as what has been most helpful for the people I met. However, you’re not holding a book of answers, because only you know those; you’re holding a collection of the most effective questions I encountered along the way. Think of these pages as a series of doorways designed so that you can choose which way your journey will go. These pages are a pep talk to honor that voice inside of you that says you have something special to give. It’s a reminder that while there is no map for where you’re going, many have traveled this road before. It’s permission to unlearn everything you’ve ever been told you should do in order to learn what you must. It’s 11:55 a.m. on a Thursday, and I’m clicking “Save” on this document one final time before it begins its adventure into the world. 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. I am humbled and grateful that these words will find their way from me to you, somehow, in some way, at just the right time. Thank you for being a part of this wild and wondrous journey. From one fellow traveler to another—Godspeed. Elle October 23, 2014 San Francisco, CA
Introduction p.vii Part I – The Crossroads p.1 Part II – The Origin of Should p.39 Part III – Must p.59 Part IV – The Return p.129 Epilogue – p.155