Self-development books and personal growth blogs will scream at you to find your calling. “Do what you love,” they say. “Do what you’re passionate about,” they shout. “Follow your purpose,” they write.
They tell you to do what you love and what brings you joy. They tell you to find work that brings you alive. They ask you to do work that doesn’t feel like work – jump out bed every day – love your Mondays.
Yet, much of this advice stems from unrealistic thinking without concrete steps to guide you. Quitting your job and following your passion is a one-way ticket back home to your parents’ penthouse suite – or the basement, whatever the case may be.
Here’s 5 things the bloggers, career coaches and experts don’t tell you:
1. You don’t have to quit your job to find your calling
You can discover your calling while you’re in a job. More than likely, you’ll run into your calling when you’re doing work for a paycheck. In your day-to-day work, different interests will pull at you. You’ll stumble upon creative challenges and discover work you’re passionate about.
Spend your time focused on your job and you’ll either stumble into your passion or take inspiration from something that will lead to your calling. If you discover your calling, you can work on it before work, during lunch and over the weekends.
“To me, the American Dream is being able to follow your own personal calling. To be able to do what you want to do is incredible freedom.” – Maya Lin
2. You find your calling by taking action
You can’t sit back and theorize about what your calling is in the world. You find your calling by doing something: taking classes, talking to mentors and trying out a variety of jobs.
If you think something is your calling, the only way to do it is to try it. Don’t hypothesize and theorize about whether you were meant to do it. Start doing it and see where it takes you.
3. Not knowing what you want in your calling is critical to finding your calling
When you try new things and hate them, you still win. If you have no idea what your calling is, write down a list of everything you’ve done that’s NOT your calling.
Knowing what your calling isn’t is just as helpful as knowing what your calling is. You can eliminate, narrow down and see what’s on the table. Move away from what isn’t your calling and you’ll find yourself nearing your calling every day.
4. Your life’s pains and trials carry the seeds of your calling
Think back to your life’s biggest pains and struggles. For me, that’s an easy one: my divorce. For you, it may be a breakup, a business failure or the passing of a loved one. A seed of your calling planted itself in each defeat you’ve encountered in your life.
During your most difficult hours, you had a glimpse into your soul and the deepest life questions. During this time, you likely discovered – or found inspiration to reflect on – your calling.
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
5. Your calling in life will require that you use your gifts
Do you know what your gift in life is? We each have a gift. You have one too, no matter what you think. You simply refuse to admit that your talent, ability or ease in doing something is a gift. Talking to people is a gift, helping people is a gift, your great smile is a gift.
Acknowledge your gift and know that your calling will require you to use your gift. If you can’t figure out your calling, figure out what your gift is. Then see how you could use your gift to make a bigger impact on the world.
Have you found out your calling? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!