What Is It that You ‘Can’t Not-Do?’

We often know early on what it is we enjoy the most. pc:pexels.com

Can’t-not-do: I know that sounds both funky, and like a double negative, and it is.

However, it’s also a useful way to express the concept of doing that which your DNA codes you to do; that activity that you cannot escape engaging. For me, writing and publishing are what my DNA codes me to do. It’s the one activity I can’t-not-do. It’s so basic a need that, next to breathing, it’s right up there with drinking coffee.

I’m thinking about this because a friend IM’d me a few days ago and we texted back and forth about his frustration with writing and publishing, a general lack of results, and how he was going to take a break.

I responded that writing and publishing were both something I was compelled to do each day. I further stated that these two activities aren’t driven by the results I see, but by the need to honor the drive inside me that compels me to create and publish.

What is it that your DNA wires you to do?

For digital business owners, this drive to serve others is often at the core of what I call our most meaningful work (MMW). It’s the work we cannot avoid if we are to be true to ourselves; it exists as a sacred calling that originates not with any deity but within our very genetic code.

I’ve known hundreds of coworkers, colleagues, and friends that rarely engage in their MMW. I find it a very sad reality that people spend their entire lives working and not enjoying the hell out of what they do all day.”

For decades I experimented with many forms of work and educated myself in many areas to find that which I couldn’t-not-do. Coming back to a realization I had at the age of nine is what finally got my attention. The state of flow and timelessness I experienced writing at age nine was the first time I knew what it was.

I then spent decades covering it up with careers in medicine and higher education only rarely touching on it. I’d experience glimpses into my MMW so-to-speak at times but the job, responsibilities of family, and economic realities dictated that I didn’t make changes.

Find something you care about and care deeply

This is the only career advice I’ve ever given my four adult children:

Find an activity that you’d do for free over and over and pursue it with every bit of your waking energy. It’s the only path that will guide you to what you can’t-not-do.”

If you’re in business, does your business allow you to express who you are? Does it feed your soul the way oxygen feeds your lungs? Does it touch on those visceral needs to make a contribution to others? Is it something you’d do for free over and over?

What is it that you can’t-not-do? Tell me about it in the comments.

By Baz

writer | coach | practical buddhist


  1. Fantastic post!

    My MMW is helping people live full, meaningful lives – “living in abundance”. It’s taken me years to move this into a full-time career, but it was something I’ve done all my life and just didn’t have a name for it until later in life. I finally feel like I am living the life I was designed to live.

    Thank you for sharing your gifts through your writing.

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