Today I watched a great little video featuring Elle Luna, an artist, writer and designer who lives and works in San Francisco. A couple of years ago Elle wrote an article called Should and Must in which she talked about the choices we all need to make between what we should be doing, and what we must do.
Must do things are all those activities that you daydream about doing one day (when you have the time, the money, the space). It’s the things that you secretly think you were born to do, except that something got in the way. Maybe it was the need to have a real job, or maybe you had kids who actually needed to be fed and housed and taken to school every day. There are a million reasons why we don’t do the things we really want to do and it’s pretty well-known that the main reason we resist is fear. Fear of failure, anxiety about being laughed at, or just the simply fear that we have nothing really to say.
However, while watching the video it occurred to me that there is often another reason that we go around feeling like we’re a bit unfulfilled. I feel a bit like that quite a lot of the time and I can never decide whether or not it’s because I read too many books (and they make me believe that I have not yet reached my full potential), or whether it’s because I simply haven’t identified my inner purpose (or what I was born to do).
Elle Luna addresses this problem in her talk. Her advice is to ring your mother and ask her what kind of things you loved doing as a child. This suggestion is based on the idea that we have natural inclinations towards certain types of activities that bring us pleasure and we have some aptitude for. This made me think about activities that I liked as a child, and the resulting list was surprisingly short and not particularly helpful in assisting me to find my inner purpose.
- Reading – I’m really not sure how you can use this to find your calling. All I know is that I am definitely one of those kids who read with a torch under the bedclothes. I have also been known to read on the way to school and during maths classes. I am pretty sure that I read most of ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ during algebra, which probably explains why I could never work out what x was equal to.
- Daydreaming – Again, not particularly helpful in this day and age, although I do spent quite a lot of my working day thinking about things and I’m very thankful to have a job where I am expected to think.
- Eating – preferably whilst reading and/or day dreaming. I love food but I’m not a brilliant cook (too lazy) and I’m never going to be on Masterchef.
So where does that leave me? Maybe there are some other quirky things I’ve forgotten. I’ll call my mother and ask her.
What about you? Do you already know what you were meant to do, but you just haven’t started yet?