Seven Steps to Heeding Your Calling
By Bud Inzer

Since September 11th, many of us have begun to look for what really matters in our lives and our work. For many, the idea of just pursuing money, more power and perks no longer holds their attention. These people are now trading “making money” for “making meaning” as the focus of their career pursuits. They have begun to ask deeper questions of themselves and their lives. They are in search of their calling. They find themselves asking, “Where is my real place in the world?” What is my special gift to give? Is there something bigger to do with my life? These and other questions echo their desire for a deeper sense of belonging and purpose.

In order to hear and heed our call, we must move through the three phases of Discovery: Preparation, Insight and Action. We must prepare ourselves to hear the call. We must learn to live and express what brings us deep joy and satisfaction. We must ready ourselves for the call to action.

The following tips have assisted others and can help you on your journey.

1. Sock Away a Few Nickels

For many of us, our first step in hearing the call is to first give attention to our financial or personal concerns. It is often helpful to stabilize our finances or handle stressful personal concerns before embarking on a search for our life purpose. If you find yourself worn thin at the end of the day because you are worried about finances, you may need to sock away some money as an anchor. We need the freedom of time and adequate breathing room to genuinely wonder and seek a truer meaning.

2. Take Pause and Get to Know Yourself

It has been said that the first step to wisdom is silence; the second is listening. For many of us, our lives have become a fast forward approach to life—living in turbo mode. Metaphorically speaking, our phones are so busy we have little time to hear a larger call. Consider slowing down. Try on a little silence and begin to listen generously to your inner longings and your abandoned dreams. Is there still a forgotten dream pulling on you? Is there a talent of yours still waiting for expression? Is there a problem in the world that pains you for lack of a solution? Just as a child keeps pulling on your shirttail to get your attention, so does your truer purpose.

3. Look from the Inside Out

Where do you suppose you need to look to find work that is deeply satisfying? You might be tempted to aim for the “hot careers,” but finding work that is intrinsically satisfying and fulfilling requires that we go deeper. It requires us to turn back to ourselves to discover what makes us unique. Of your natural talents, which ones do you enjoy? Who or what do you genuinely care about? Begin to answer these questions and you will begin to understand what you need and what you have to offer.

4. Give Up the Need for Approval

To some degree, we must give up our need for approval if we are to find our true course. We need to consider shifting our view from ambition (what is it I might get?) to inspiration (what is it I might give?) in order to find work with more meaning. Rather than asking, “How can I get ahead?” Try asking, “What am I deeply interested in?” Rather than asking, “How can I prove myself? Try asking, “How can I use myself well? Rather than asking, “Who am I?” try asking, “In how many ways can I be myself?”

5. Be Willing to Deal with Your Inner Conflicts

“There is a big difference between being divided within ourselves and being divided against ourselves.” Writes Gregg Levoy. Consider this: You have an inner family, just as you have an external family. There are members of your inner family who want you to go for your dreams, and others who think you must be crazy to think of risking security. There might be a part of you who can only criticize, another whose focus is to push you to do more and be more. There also may be a part of you who wants to lie on the beach while another wants perfection. These are only a few examples of how we are divided within ourselves. The good news is that we need not worry. Each part has a positive intention. Each part is really on your side. Consider doing a Voice Dialogue facilitator or therapist who is familiar with the process to assist you with this.

6. Align Who You Are with What You Do

Gather up the pieces of your “personal meaning” puzzle and you will notice that there are themes which point you in certain directions. What comes easily, effortlessly, naturally? Your calling will utilize the best of your abilities, your personality, your values, your interests, your skills, talents and nature. What do these qualities say about you? Where do they seem to be pointing? What environments would be ideal for you to be yourself and shine? What fields are you repeatedly attracted to? Who has a career that you wish you could have? What problem in the world still needs attention? Can you think of a project or service that calls to you? (Even if you don’t know how you will do it) If you can’t put your finger on it, ask yourself what bothers you or moves you.

7. Get Connected to Possibilities

To put it simply, in order to give our calling focus and direction, we must start looking someplace. We can begin to search for opportunities to contribute without knowing ahead of time where our explorations will take us—engage more, plan less. Think of a project, a service or a product that could link what you feel moved to give with those who need or want it. Sniff around! Explore people, organizations and problems that need solving to get a clearer idea of what matters to you. Research your fields of interest by reading articles and books on subject. If you feel moved contact the author and tell them of your interest. Lower the drawbridge and ask for help from strangers, family acquaintances’ in person or through chat groups on social media or Google groups. Remember, as George Eliot said, “it is never too late to be what you might have been.”

©Bud Inzer 2002

Author's Bio: 

Get a FREE copy of "110 Tips for Navigating Your Life & Career with Soul at Bud Inzer is an unconventional career coach and Voice Dialogue facilitator who specializes in helping others look beyond conventional definitions of success in order to discover their deeper script and journey. As Henry David Thoreau observed, "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not the fish they are after."