10 Strategies For Gradually Figuring Out Your "Life's Calling"
If you ask a group of people if they've found their "life's calling," you're sure to get mixed responses. Finding a life path that feels fulfilling, purposeful, and tailor-made for your skills and interests is easier said than done. And in my experience, true callings shine less like guiding beacons and more like subtle, flickering lights. You have to slow down and really pay attention in order to find them. Here are a few ideas for how you can start to take meaningful action to uncover your calling(s).
Notice dreams and signs.
Pay attention to the things that happen in your life, the people you meet, the things you notice, the places you are drawn to, and the dreams that greet you when you're asleep. Upon waking, try to interpret your dreams. Don't worry as much about what you saw in your dream, but how it made you feel. Keep a pad by the bed to write down your reflections, and question what they could be telling you about how you subconsciously feel about your waking life.
Prioritize creative expression.
Creativity begets discovery. It's normal to feel like you don't have time to live a creative life, so start small. Can you set aside a few minutes everyday to draw, write, or simply daydream? If you do have the bandwidth, consider committing to a more structured creativity plan, like the 100-Day Project or Julia Cameron's The Artists Way program.
Think about what you used to love.
What did you love to do or want to be when you were very young, before you were asked to ‘fit in’? How did you play as a child? What were you curious about? How did you think? The answers to these questions might hold a clue to your life's calling.
Notice what feels good.
When we are living in a state of flow and ease, we are connected, joyful, expressive, loving and purposeful. Notice times in your daily life that you feel like this. What are you doing? Who are you with? Do more of it.
Turn down the distractions.
Ask yourself what distractions you currently love the most: Maybe it's TV, social media, or email. Once you've gotten honest with yourself about your distractions, gently question how you can start to replace them with that thing that feels good. Doing so might be uncomfortable at first, since we love distractions for a reason: They stop from facing things we don’t want to, or having to answer difficult questions. But consciously opting to turn down the volume on our distractions, one notch at a time, will allow more stillness and possibility to enter our lives.
Pay attention to what keeps coming back.
Your truth never goes away, even if you ignore it at first. Nagging, recurring thoughts give us clues as to what will really satisfy us, so pay attention to yours.
Try new things regularly.
The process of finding joy isn't passive, and a more fulfilling life won't appear in a puff of smoke. Oftentimes, knowing what's right for you will require trying out a lot of things that are wrong. Once you start to listen to your inner voice and reflect on what made you happy during childhood, question how you can start to bring those things to life in your current reality. If you loved interior design as a kid, commit to re-decorating one part of your space as notice how it feels. If painting has always piqued your interest, buy a set of watercolors and a single brush and see what it's like to create.
Find a way to connect with something outside yourself daily.
Get out in nature, practice meditation, explore what religion and spirituality mean for you. These actions will help us put our lives in perspective and remind us of the larger forces at play.
Shake up your routine.
Getting out of your routine and changing your environment can work wonders to shift your perspective. It can be as simple as taking a different route home from work or bringing your morning coffee outside. Find the adventure in the everyday.
Discovering and honing your path in life doesn't happen overnight; it's a continual journey. Be compassionate with yourself along the way. Treat yourself, your practices, and the world with patience.
While it may take some intention and effort, figuring out what your calling is—how you can live a life that's in the highest service to yourself and others—is well worth it.
Alison is a coach, speaker, and founder of the Path Less Trodden, which she was inspired to create after changing her life and losing 140 pounds. Follow her work on Facebook or Twitter.