It seems like finding your life’s purpose, what you came here to do, should be easy. You look inside, think about what you most love to do, and do more of that.
I wish it had been that simple for me. In fact, it took me many decades to sort out what I was was destined to do with my life. If you are still defining this for yourself, maybe my story of how I finally found my calling will make your journey to find yours just a little easier, and hopefully shorter.
For as long as I can remember….
… I searched for my ideal career, one that would be deeply fulfilling, enjoyable and make a positive impact on the world. This seemed like simple criteria, but in a vast sea of choices, I was perpetually lost.
In pursuit of this ideal, I tried many occupations – park and recreation manager, hotel marketer, event planner, management consultant, corporate sales, career counselor, organizational development trainer, etc. Each subsequent position taught me what I wanted and didn’t want in a job, and ultimately I grew and moved on to what I always hoped would be the job of my dreams and what I was meant to do with my life.
Ironically, I began to discover my life’s purpose, or calling, while resisting a job I should have loved, one that I prepared many years to obtain.
When I was hired to direct a university career development center, I had finally achieved what I thought I wanted. However I quickly realized that this wasn’t “it” either. So I did what I had always done when faced with a less than optimal job situation (as they all had been) – I went about doing the best job I could for my employer, while wishing and preparing for a better job in the future.
However, without realizing it, I was resisting what I had been given, and thus recreating over and over the very thing I didn’t want.
After 6 ½ years of feeling stuck, occasionally loving my job, but usually resisting what I did on a day-to-day basis, a phrase suddenly popped into my head –
What you resist, persists.
And in that instant, I knew how to get off the merry-go-round of never being quite satisfied with the career (and life) I had created.
Here are the 3 steps I finally took to find my true calling.
First, I fell in love with where I was in every moment.
No easy feat when my “reality” was sometimes unpleasant, stressful, boring, or all three! I had been taught years earlier that my “reality” was a direct reflection of my thoughts over time, but I didn’t see how this related to me. After all, I was a relatively positive spiritual woman, and complaining about simple stuff was “normal”, right?
I spent a lot of time identifying what I didn’t like about this job, repeating many versions of the following; I wish I didn’t have to… I hate when she does… Not ANOTHER meeting to… There are too many things on my to-do list… This policy is ridiculous… etc. And the Universe obediently responded by providing more situations that reflected what I had been complaining about, or resisting.
Without realizing it, my thoughts had created my reality, both positive and negative. So I decided it was about time to focus on the former, and minimize the latter!
I started by diligently monitoring my internal complaints. When I heard my brain begin its negative rattle about where I was, what I was doing, or who I was speaking to, I relaxed my shoulders and silently repeated the phrase…
“This moment is my destiny”.
I would remind myself “I’m meant to be exactly where I am BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE I AM”. Then I immediately let go of the negative thought, no matter what the situation, and I gave my FULL attention to whomever or whatever was before me. And I did this over and over again for the first week.
By week three, I started viewing situations that had previously bugged the hell out of me, as sort of interesting, which turned into intrigue, then fun, and finally, a blessing.
Wow, what a change. I realized I was onto something big.
After about a month of replacing my habitual complaints with “this moment is my destiny”, I started to fall in love with my job. Not just a little crush, but BIG TIME LOVE! After so many years of quietly wishing this job away (and all previous jobs), I had stopped my pattern of resistance. I suddenly wanted THIS job.
This is when it all changed, and quickly.
Onto the second step – I named what I most wanted in a vocation, without getting attached to the details of how or when it would happen, or even what would manifest.
At the same time I was falling in love with my job, I was playing a fun little mind game. It started when a friend received an amazing job offer simply by answering the phone. From my vantage point, it appeared that she simply picked up the receiver and the job appeared. Heck, my job required that I answer the phone dozens of times each day. Why couldn’t one of those calls be from a new employer offering ME a cool new job. Even though I had recently fallen in love with my university gig, why couldn’t this great job turn into something even better?!
So I started to imagine that my dream job (something even more spectacular than I already had) was on the other end of the line EVERY time the phone rang. I did this over and over again for a couple months.
Then one day, out of the blue, a total stranger called and offered me my “dream job”, one that I had secretly fantasized about for years, but thought was too unrealistic to even say out loud.
Even though I had already fallen in love with my university job, I KNEW that this new position reflected my highest good, and contained everything I had always wished for in a career. So I reluctantly quit my beloved university job, and went for it.
Over the next few years, this new position turned into my blessed vocation, one that has been deeply meaningful as I made a profound difference in peoples lives, as well as transforming my own. Along the way, I’ve had lots of fun traveling the country as I teach 1000’s of people a topic I dearly love. This is where I still work today.
However, in spite of being very happy in this job for the past 18 years, I have always known that this is my vocation, but not my calling.
The 3rd step was the charm that introduced me to what turned into what I had been searching for all along.
Soon after attaining my university job, and realizing that I once again landed in a less than optimal place, I started doing career development on myself to figure out what I REALLY wanted from a vocation. After completing a classic career exercise where I listed everything I loved to do as a child, I noticed that smack in the middle of the list was the word “collage”, sparking the memory of the 10-year-old me proudly holding my first piece of “art”.
So on a whim (otherwise known as a flash of inspiration), I gathered up all of the magazines and catalogs I could find, tore out a bunch of images, and put the pieces back together into a simple, child-like collage. As I looked down at what I’d created, I realized: I was having FUN. My heart exploded with joy. I didn’t want to stop rearranging the pieces, ever.
Starting purely as a hobby, I created collages almost every day, and after 5 years of over-the-top fun, I realized I had finally found my calling –
To create sacred art for the purpose of inspiring myself and others to awaken to who we were meant to be, to who we’ve always been.
Today, my vocation and calling exist in two different worlds, accomplished at different times during my day.
The purpose of my vocation or career is to contribute to the world in a positive and meaningful way (teaching trainers and counselors to use the MBTI and other personality assessments), while earning an income and health insurance to support my life, which includes my calling.
My calling also contributes to the world in a meaningful and positive way, but it is MUCH more than that. My calling feels like my dearest friend, something I don’t want to live without. I pursue my calling because it is where my heart feels most alive and it is an essential way that I care for my soul.
I expect that one day my vocation and calling will merge into one. However until that fateful day, I am living in complete non-resistance to what is before me; loving EVERY part of my blessed vocation, and cherishing each moment that I get to spend in my sacred calling.
The next chapter of this story is still to be written, and YOU will be the first to know when it happens. Until then….
… I would love to hear how you define vocation and calling.
What have you discovered about each, and are they the same or different for you?
How did you go about finding each, or are you still searching?
What makes YOUR heart come alive?
Please share a comment about your journey to discover your vocation and calling OR sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win a medium Art Print of any collage in my collection. Comment AND subscribe for 2 entries!!! Random drawing of all new subscribers and commenters will take place on Monday, May 23 at 6pm.
There are millions of ways to find your heart’s calling. Your story will inspire us all, no matter where you are on the journey to manifest what your heart longs to do!