"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive."Ok - get out a pen and paper, or open up a new file on your computer, and write down three things the world says you ought to do. You know what I mean: the "shoulds," the things that when you listen very carefully to that inner voice that is your truest self, you know aren't really "musts." They might feel like musts, but if you're only doing them because you think someone else thinks you should do them - they're shoulds.
-Robert Louis Stevenson
Now, write down three things you'd rather do instead of the "oughts." Don't worry about being "weird" - first of all, no one will see this list but you, and second, what you call "weird," I call "interesting." At the risk of sounding overly grand: it's our preferences and pecadillos that make us rich characters on the stage of life. Some of the most interesting people in history - often the people we look up to and celebrate - are compelling because of their unapologetic uniqueness.
Some of you may want to take it to the next level, and actually enact some of your preferences. For others of you, this may take a while, and that's ok - to name what you prefer is to know what you prefer, and that's incredibly empowering in and of itself.
If at this point you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, with the shoulds and the oughts and the wants - here are some examples of what I mean:
- Maybe the world says Friday night is for happy hour; maybe you prefer going home, soaking in a bath and reading your favorite magazine (it's ok, a lot of intellectuals buy US Weekly).
- Maybe the world says your garden needs weeding; maybe you prefer to use the time to meet a friend for coffee, or go to one of those museums you've always meant to check out.
- Maybe the world says you need to check your email constantly, all day long; maybe you prefer just to check it at designated times, so you can focus more time on other things. (I personally find that scheduling 2 hour-long slots for email in my day frees me up to be way more productive during other waking hours.)