The Should-do Would-do Life

The other day, I came upon what I thought was the best writing advice I ever received. Then I realized that Victoria Schwab’s advice on the “should-do would-do” book dilemma can be applied to far more than just writing. I believe it’s something we all need to hear – permission we all need to be given. I’d highly recommend hopping over to Victoria’s website and reading the full article. (I’d also recommend getting your hands on her debut novel The Near Witch because it’s a literary work of art.) But here’s the life-encompassing twist I’ve put on Miss Schwab’s writing advice:

Throughout the course of your life, you’ll find a whole let of people who know just what you “should” do. And a lot of them are probably right. See, the should-do life is the one that makes sense. It’s the one that pays the bills and keeps you living in comfort. It’s the one that protects you from the risk of rejection. It’s the ordinary, logical, everyone-is-living it life – the one that ensures your survival.

…Then there’s the would-do life. The one that exists only in the back of your mind and your wildest dreams. The one that lingers on the fringes of your reality, begging to be realized. It’s the life you would choose if only you didn’t have all those should-do dilemmas weighing you down.

So what do you do when you come to the crossroads between what you should do and what you would do? Yes, it’s hard because it defies all logic, but Victoria Schwab and I both beg you to always, always, ALWAYS choose the would-do life. Why? Here’s Victoria’s response to that question:

“Because I picked the SHOULD DO path. I did it willingly. And now I’m changing course. I’m setting down the SHOULD DO and picking up the WOULD DO, and it is terrifying and maybe a bad idea (and that’s my writer brain begging, pleading) but the moment I opened THAT document, the WOULD DO one, I smiled. The moment I started typing, I lost myself. There was joy in the journey again.”

My friend, I can guarantee you that life is too short to live the should-do life. That joy in the journey is worth it. Your passions were given to you for a purpose and, by all means, you were meant to embrace them. So release your hesitations. Let go of all your fears. Close your eyes for just one minute and dream the would-do dream.

At the beginning of this year, I finally chose the would-do path. And I know I’m not a math person, but three months later, I’m crunching numbers that don’t make sense and realizing that, somehow, God is taking care of me (just like He said He would).

And I know with most certainty that there is joy – such a wondrous, freeing, beautiful joy – in choosing the would-do life.

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