So, you want to lead your world. You’re ambitious. You’re passionate. But there’s one hitch. One question that nags at you. WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE and where do I direct all this ambition and passion?
I know you. You’re hungry for impact and influence but you also crave meaning and purpose. You want to know with that quiet certainty, “This is what I’m called to do.”
You want success to mean you’ve found your ‘wow’ and you are living it. Making an income from it. Influencing.
But how do you know with certainty what your calling is?
I’m so like you. On the outside I had the big corporate, successful life and career. A long degree in Architecture meant I was already a professional at the outpost, but was this what I really wanted? 25 years later I’ve had an eclectic career in creative and business fields, in both Australia and Europe. I’ve had the fancy titles – Strategic Director, Brand Architect, International Training & Development Manager, Change Leader. I even worked remotely for 6 years for a European brand whilst I was based in Sydney – now that’s an effective long distance relationship! I also pioneered a hugely successful leadership development college in the heart of London.
But I was always asking, ‘What shall I do when I grow up?’ Even after I turned 40!
Now I know.
Now I know with full certainty.
And it was easier, way easier than I thought.
Why hadn’t someone told me this before?
Well, I never had that mentor to help me, but I know that pain well. So, here’s 7 secrets that I wished someone had told me years ago.
1. It’s not necessarily about finding your passion
I get this advice. It’s well meaning. But not every personality feels intense passion. Some personalities have multiple passions, others don’t feel they are passionate about much at all (so, is there something wrong with me, becomes the next question).
Firstly, to the second group of people, there is nothing wrong with you. Drop the need to find your missing passion and instead, find what brings you the most peace. It’s a more helpful emotional guide for your personality type. Not everyone feels deep ‘passion’.
2. I have too many passions – what do I do?
So, to the ones who have multiple passions, many ideas, many options… I know that feeling well. You find it hard to choose and focus. I get it. Well, firstly, being ‘jack of all trades’ is not the enemy it used to be 20 years ago. Well-meaning advice to niche down isn’t necessarily correct anymore – it’s helpful in targeting customers, but not good life advice.
You can do multiple things, but you only have NOW to do it, so you must decide what you will do first. The best trick for doing this is to write each idea down on separate pieces of paper, toss them in a hat (a bowl or empty coffee mug will also do) and then draw one out. If your heart feels energised, then that’s the one thing to focus on next. If your heart energy drops a little, then draw another idea out of the hat until you feel that little ‘yes’ inside you. Then devote the next 3 months to making that idea happen. And park the other ideas – they are all part of your vision, just not your ‘next thing’.
3. It’s a blend of WHO you are and WHAT lights you up
Personality tests, SWOT analyses, updating your CV – all these things are great. But they only scratch the surface. They tell you who you are and what you’ve done, but unless you marry it with what lights you up you are left still asking the question, “What’s my calling?”
And if you are a doer, you’ve been good at getting stuff done, but you know your heart isn’t in it anymore. So, get in touch with what lights you up. What brings you joy. What brings you peace and that general good feeling. It doesn’t have to be ‘oh-my-goodness, turn on the spotlight’ passion. Look for that little lift in energy you feel – and that feeling right there can act like powerful breadcrumbs to your calling.
4. It’s not about a job or a new career
Imagine a pyramid sliced into three layers. At the bottom is ‘job’ – the work you do. In the middle is ‘career’ – it’s seen as an evolution from just having a job. ‘I’ve got a career’ feels good to say, but if you are reading this post then I know you no longer really believe that. The top part of the pyramid is your calling. This goes beyond a job or career. It’s not an identity. It’s a lifestyle. So, if you are frustrated right now and looking for a new direction, consider – is it a new job you seek, a new career or is it something bigger?
5. You are already in your calling
This secret is the biggest and yet often the most frustrating. You think, If I’m already in my calling, why do I feel this way? It’s because you are seeing your calling as something you do!
To know what you are called to do is to know who you are called to be! I was looking for decades for the holy grail of a defined calling, as if it would be the perfect career. Then I suddenly saw that my whole life was my calling and I was already living it.
I was called to be inspirational, I was called to be a leader… a teacher, a mother, a partner and, most importantly, I was called to my own wellness. This thinking changed everything. I set a one word intention for each area of my life and I within days I had peace. Finally. My whole life was my calling.
6. It’s not about one big calling but about the next assignment
This point is my favourite, and probably gave me the biggest personal breakthrough of all. It ties together all the other points above. My calling is my whole life and involved who I am plus what lights me up and then it’s about what my next assignment will be! That took a whole lot of pressure off.
All I needed to figure out was what I wanted my next assignment to be. After that I could choose another assignment and so on. Look at your life as a series of assignments. Some are long term (e.g. being a parent is a long term assignment), some are short term (the jobs, or careers, or projects we are involved in). All combine to be our calling.
7. Stop waiting for a voice from ‘out there’.
Finally, stop looking or waiting for someone or something out there to give you clarity over your life. It can only come from within you. If you dig deep in your heart you might find that you’ve been waiting for permission from someone else to tell you to ‘go for it’. Or you’ve been trying to please your partner, or your parents (yes, we still do this long after we’ve left home) or someone else that has influence in your life. Only you can find and confirm your calling.
Your calling is whatever you want it to be!
Merilyn is an inspirational leadership & life-direction mentor who has worked internationally for over 25 years helping businesses and their owners grow. Now she’s helping women find their ‘wow’ and lead their own worlds – using her decades of professional experience in branding, strategic direction and leadership development flavoured by her down-to-earth and creative personality. You can find her at www.merilynberetta.com and take her wow-archetype quiz to discover more about what you are called to be.