Forget passion. It’s time to do your work that matters most.
I understand. Believe me, I get it. You feel stuck and under-appreciated. Maybe you spent half your life in a job you hate, because you’re trapped by a salary. Maybe there was once a fire inside you, but the flame is long-gone. You know there’s something MORE out there.
We see these people — the fulfilled. We stand in awe as we watch them practice their craft, sweat, and grind it out — all while making the effort look delicious.
The leap is the hard part.
It’s so easy to daydream of a better life while avoiding action. Daydreaming is the candy of success. It’s so sweet going down, but it makes us fat and sick with accumulation. I’ve been there. I still go there some days. But I’m getting better.
Daydreaming without action is indulgence. We can’t do the work we were born to do through indulgence. The work takes, blood, guts, more blood, and a little luck.
Willpower won’t cut it.
There’s got to be an inner-fire to keep you moving, no matter how high the climb or how low the dip takes you. We must want to do the work, because we can’t imagine doing anything else. We’d do it wether we got paid or not, because the right work is like oxygen.
Without the right work, the engine is small. The drive is small. And the hope gets small. We end up working in a job we hate for just enough money to make it painful to quit. The right work is close. We can feel it, but we’re not sure how to find it. And it’s easy to get lost as the days slip by.
So how to we find our true calling?
I’ve got four big questions for you. These questions will require contemplation and a deep look inside. We’ll find what motivates you and keeps you up at night. Perhaps you feel lost right now. Let’s help you get found.
What’s a True Calling?
Your true calling is your work that matters most. This is the work that keeps you up at night. Your job is what you do, but your work is who you are. If you don’t know what your work is just yet, I hope to help you find it today.
This isn’t about following your passion. You might be passionate about daily walks, collecting leaves, or watching the latest episode of whatever. But there’s a difference between passion and calling.
Passion is indulgent. Your true calling is hard-wired, and drives hard work.
- Your true calling brings self-satisfaction.
- Your true calling brings a fulfilled life.
- You’ll miss fewer days of work, because you’ll want to do the work.
- You’ll work harder and it won’t feel like it.
- You may earn more, because you’re willing to become an expert in your craft.
- You’ll find it easier to persevere when times get rough. And they will get rough.
How to Find Your True Calling Today:
There are core values inside you. We just have to dig them out. This will probably sound strange, but I’ve got a big question for you. This question will help us figure out your true calling.
What did you like to do when you were ten?
It’s not the surface answer that matters here. We’re looking at the core behaviors you couldn’t get enough of when you had all the time in the world to do anything you wanted.
Maybe you liked playing basketball. This is the surface answer. Perhaps you collected things, or enjoyed performing. Maybe you couldn’t spend enough time outside fishing and you had to be called-in, kicking and screaming when it was time for dinner.
The surface answers reveal the core of your calling.
If you loved basketball more than anything, the odds are high you won’t become a pro player. But your core calling could involve a high level of physicality, a team, an audience, and competition. This core may create a calling to run around stage as a motivational speaker, a fitness coach, or the high-energy CEO of a start-up.
What would you do right now if you could do anything at all and you’d do it whether or not you got paid?
Yes, it’s best if you can earn money with your calling, else it stays a hobby. But if you start with money-seeking you’re on the wrong path. You’ll flame-out when the process gets hard. If you focus on a calling that you feel in your bones, where it’s just as rewarding without money — now you’re heading the right direction.
Go back to how you felt when you were ten. It doesn’t matter how old you are now. We don’t change that much as we age, we just tend to suppress the big dreams we nurtured from childhood. Money didn’t matter much when you were ten. There are behaviors you enjoyed, activities from which you had to be dragged. If you could do anything at all, sky’s the limit, what would it be?
What could you do to satisfy you inner ten-year-old, using the core expertise you hold NOW?
You should never stop learning and growing, but we can’t do anything we want. We’re not experts at everything. Each of us are built to perform certain skills. What are yours?
Once your calling finds you the growth will never end. You’ll practice your craft, tweak, test, and learn. But you’ve got to start with a core set of skills. I write. I’ll never be good at basketball. It would be futile of me to choose basketball as my calling.
This is the step where you must be brutally honest with yourself. Your parents lied to you when you were little (as they should have). You can’t do anything you want, but you can do many things. Your calling is the perfect integration between your expertise and the work you live for.
What can you do to satisfy these needs and abilities, that can also be scaled or monetized to support your lifestyle?
Not every idea you uncover will be a good idea. You can’t shoot marbles all day and expect to make a living. Find the space where the circles intersect. This is the sweet spot. Here, you’ll find a calling that will pay you.
The best part of this exercise is there’s no one true calling. You have an entire class of callings within which you can play. Once you find your core set of needs, anything inside it should fulfill your self-satisfactions needs.
A mental short-cut to help you along:
You the power of your subconscious mind to help you uncover your true calling. I wrote a story about accessing your subconscious here:
How to dig a calling from a day job:
- Practice job crafting — make your current job your own, even if you go against the rules a little. Go above and beyond. Do what’s asked of you, then seek something outside your job to do a little more. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Do a little extra. It’s the little extra that can grow into the reason we love our work. Find something that fits into the three questions above and apply it your current job.
- Find more connection with others — What can you do in your day job to find more connection with the people whom you work with? We all need these deep connections. Human interaction is part of self-fulfillment, whether you’re the most introspective introvert, to the outest-going extrovert. What can you do with the work you do now, to form closer connections with others?
- Talk to your boss — As employees we spend most of our time heads-down and avoiding interaction with our supervisors. Your boss is a person too — a person who probably carries the same existential calling burden as you. Maybe there’s another job that would fit your calling better — a different division. Have a sit-down. Your boss would rather you stayed at your company happily doing something you love, versus quitting because you do something you hate.
It matters little how old you are or your station in life. Yes, moving towards your calling is hard. It’s harder if you feel stuck with a high salary, a family to provide for, or a thousand other influences. This will be hard to execute. But what choice to you have? Isn’t working hard to find your calling better than living the rest of your life feeling buried and defeated, doing a job you hate?
It’s your turn. Dig deep and find the life you were born to have. What can you do today that will help you uncover the work that matters most? Take out a piece of paper, think deep, and uncover your core set of beliefs that reveal the work you’d do today even if you weren’t paid for it.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.