“I don’t think we have a calling…”
Those were the words from a blog post by Seth Godin that stopped me in my tracks.
Like most Millennials, I was on a quest to find my unique purpose.
I wanted to find a career that perfectly aligned with my strengths, passions, values, and natural abilities. My personal mission was to find my mission.
I read countless books, hoping they would provide insights into what I was supposed to do. I took ability tests and skill assessments expecting they would point me in the right direction. I asked mentors and friends what they thought I should do.
I was obsessed with finding my calling, and Seth had to go and ruin it.
Give up Finding Your Calling and Start Caring Instead
However, the words that followed would provide a powerful insight that would completely change my perspective through Seth’s paradigm-shifting idea:
“I don’t think we have a calling… I do think it’s possible to have a caring. A calling implies that there’s just one thing you’re supposed to do. What we most need in our lives, though, is something worth doing, worth it because we care.”
Seth was exactly right. In the search for my calling, what I was really hoping to find is something I could give myself to completely. I was looking for a purpose that I could work tirelessly, relentlessly, and generously to fulfill despite the hard work.
Calling vs. Caring
So how do we find something worth doing because we care enough about it to give everything we have to fulfill it? Here are a few lessons I learned after I applied Seth’s approach to calling:
1. Define your values.
Often times, the things we value surface from the things that frustrate us the most. The frustrations we experience represent the space between how things are and how we want things to be. This space can help us identify our values. Sit in that space willingly (sometimes uncomfortably) without complaining. See what comes of it.
Our values influence the type of work and environment we enjoy. If you need help determining your values, think about the things that frustrate you in your current role. Is it the culture? Is it the way your boss treats others? Is there an opportunity to give back to others through your work that others seem to miss?
2. Sharpen your skills by caring for others.
When we serve others, we find opportunities that can help us unpack our unique strengths and skills. Finding our calling starts by recognizing the strengths and skills that come naturally to us and stewarding them well.
Be intentional about using our natural abilities to help others. Spend your downtime at work and home helping others accomplish things that you find easy. It could be something as simple as helping your boss arrange his outline for an upcoming presentation or showing a co-worker how to navigate through a conflict with a customer.
3. Act on small opportunities to give relentlessly to others.
I believe every day we’re presented with small opportunities to act out boldly in generosity. In order to respond in these moments though, we must first acknowledge and deny our gut instinct reactions of self-interest and preservation of comfort. If we don’t, it becomes all too easy to keep our head down and walk on by. But it’s worth the extra effort.
If you’ve got extra income one month, give it to a friend who is launching a project that resonates with your values. Stop to have an actual conversation with the homeless person you rush past on your way into the office. Pick up the check at lunch with a co-worker instead of splitting it like usual.
Taking the posture of relentless generosity helps us get closer to finding our own true purpose. Or in other words: your purpose will be found in your generosity.
Are You Ready to Find Your Calling?
As I started applying these principles in the search for my calling, things began to unfold. I started recognizing abilities that came naturally to me. I began to find work I was truly passionate about doing.
Our calling might change throughout your lives. However, we’ll always be moving in the right direction when we pursue something we care about enough to give everything we have to fulfill it.