“Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do. (1) Things we ought to do (2) Things we’ve got to do (3) Things we like doing. I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons.”

C. S. Lewis, in a letter to his godchild

In the grand, often chaotic, buffet of life, we find ourselves juggling more plates than a circus performer on espresso. But really, when you strip away the unnecessary, life boils down to three types of hors d’oeuvres: those we ought to nibble, those we must gulp down, and those we devour with glee.

Firstly, let’s talk about the ‘ought to’s. These are like your leafy greens—not always exciting, but they keep you from turning into a human donut. Voting, flossing, recycling—they might not give you a thrill, but there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from doing the right thing. It’s like wearing an invisible superhero cape, only it doesn’t get caught in car doors.

Then, there are the ‘got to’s. These are your bread-and-butter tasks, quite literally. They’re the jobs that pay the bills, the oil changes, the tax filings. Sure, they’re about as exciting as watching paint dry, but without them, life would quickly turn into an episode of a survival reality show. And let’s be honest, not all of us are cut out for eating bugs or building shelters from palm leaves.

Lastly, and most importantly, are the ‘like to’s. These are the sprinkles on the cupcake of life. Whether it’s going to a concert, feasting at your favorite dinner spot, or travelling to visit a friend, these are the things that make your heart do a little salsa dance. They’re the reason you work through the ‘got to’s and the ‘ought to’s. Imagine a world where everyone pursued what they loved. Bakeries would probably have a lot more experimental pastries, for one.

But here’s the kicker: some folks wander through life like they’re lost in a supermarket, filling their carts with things they neither need nor want. They’re the ones buying tofu when they can’t stand the stuff, just because someone said it’s good for them. Remember, life’s too short to eat tofu if you hate tofu.

So, let’s make a pact to keep our life’s menu simple. Do what you ought to do, so your conscience is as clean as a whistle in a soap factory. Do what you’ve got to do, because let’s face it, adulting isn’t optional. And most importantly, do what you like to do, because those are the moments that make life sparkle like a disco ball in a sunlight-filled room.

Keep your ‘ought to’s, ‘got to’s, and ‘like to’s in balance, and you’ll be better equipped to make the most of this one, wild and precious life we have. And if you ever find yourself doing something that doesn’t fit into these three categories, ask yourself: is this really the tofu I want in my shopping cart?”

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.