As a child, the most common question we were probably asked was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We were allowed to be dreamers, give the most extravagant answers; think of the craziest careers and even to have superpowers.
Later on, we started thinking about what our work and life might actually be like. We were thinking of what that mysterious something is that we want to pursue and how to make a difference with it – we were looking for our sense of calling. Time passed and we started our career. Maybe we thought it was our calling, or maybe we simply found a job that pays the bills.
However there will be a time, when a little voice deep within us will ask for more. And then it is up to us to decide what we do with it. The journey to discover my calling has taken many years and I believe our calling changes as we as people evolve, however our life’s calling may never change.
I’ve transitioned careers from management consultancy to running a software development company. Each career change has helped me discover more about myself and brought me closer to my life’s calling. Today I run an international coaching platform helping professional coaches to share their voice with the world and coach others to discover their calling.
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honour your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” Oprah Winfrey
What is the So-called Calling?
A calling is more than just doing the work you are getting paid for, it encompasses your whole being and sense of purpose in life. If you are following your calling then you most probably feel alive, awake and happy. You feel passion for the work you do and believe your life is equally meaningful and fulfilling.
Conversely, if you are not following your calling then you might feel empty, restless and lost. You might sense life is passing you by and that something has to change.
In 2014, a study posted in Journal of Career Assessment identified three sources of calling:
- Calling from outside: Looking for needs of the world and how you can help. You put the needs of others before yours.
- Inner voice: the thirst to discover your calling.
- Perfect Fit: Finding your profession based on your strengths, skills, values and interests.
If you are unsure about how to discover your calling, here are some powerful tips to help you get started:
- Have dates with yourself to get to know the real you
Already Socrates shared with us, ‘to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom’. We regularly schedule dates with our loved ones to build on our relationship and get to know them better. The same is true to get to know ourselves better. Schedule dates with yourself to discover the nature of yourself and who you are.
Reflect on where you came from and where you are today. Keep a diary of who you are being today, who you like spending time with, what you are passionate about, who do you admire and why? Notice what lights up the fire in you and what makes you feel energized.
2. If you would win a 100 million Dollars right now, what kind of work would you do?
Most millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg do not need to work anymore; they work because they are passionate about their jobs. What kind of work would you like to do if you had over 100 Million Dollars? What doesn’t feel like work to you?
3. Imagine you have already lived a full life and people are gathering at your funeral
Who will attend your funeral? What will each of the people say about you and the role you have played in their lives? What legacy did you leave?
4. Be brave and take small steps to change your present
Make something positive out of your current job. What can you change to make your current work more meaningful and enjoyable? What else could you do to bring more life into your daily routines? It is never too late to join a new class and further education. Ask yourself when was the last time you tried something for the first time? You will gain a new perspective on life and put fresh wind in your sails.
5. Plan and be ready for detours
The questions listed above are designed to coax your true self out of wherever it’s been hiding. They provide alternate avenues so you can see yourself in a different light and get to know yourself better. However I also believe that in order to keep on following our calling in the long term, we also have to undergo a reality check. Regardless of how much we love doing something and how great our skills are in it – bringing value to others is the driving force behind passion. Once we have discovered what truly makes us happy, we must polish it so that it adds value to other people’s lives. Only when others can see the value of our work will we receive recognition, and this will fuel our passion.
This means we don’t need to know right now what our overall life calling is, but we can learn how to choose the best path at a fork in the road. And as we continue our pursuit, one choice we make will lead to another and new opportunities will arise. Be ready for detours along the way – adapt, explore, learn and remember to enjoy your personal journey of discovery.
Embracing your calling means to learn, plan and set goals while being mindful on your journey. It’s important to keep in mind that we are not here to “find” our calling but to discover it.
As an experienced Master Certified (Business and Executive) Coach, Mentor and Marketing Strategist, Yiwen founded Your24hCoach – The International Coaching Network as a vehicle to give professional coaches a voice that the world can hear. Yiwen serves on numerous advisory boards and conducts workshops globally on business success strategies, leadership and change creation.