Shoutout to anyone who’s ever googled “how do I figure out my calling?” or “how to find your life purpose”.
Or, my personal favorite: “WHAT IS THE POINT OF LIFE???”
No joke – if you looked through my internet search history circa 2011, you’d see a million variations on these questions.
Oprah says that everyone has a calling, so it must be true — so where’s the rock that mine is hiding under?
Well, I love me some Lady O, but I’m here to refine her advice just a bit:
Your calling is to be open to your MULTIPLE callings.
Think about who you were at 20, and then try to imagine who you’ll be at 60. Do you think those two versions of you will have the same priorities? Will she be interested in spending her time and talents in the same way?
You’re designed to evolve throughout your life, and that doesn’t make you flakey or ‘lost’. That makes you human; a wide awake, always growing, “I’m paying attention!” human.
And isn’t it exciting to realize that you can MOVE THE HELL ON, when one chapter is clearly done, and start fresh with something more aligned?
Almost every phenomenal woman I admire (including Queen Oprah) has gone through multiple iterations, changed in dozens of ways, and explored a wide variety of passions and pursuits.
We aren’t just one thing. We all have several True Callings.
And maybe, most importantly of all, every single one of those callings is our choice – not an assignment that someone else picks for us.
It’s your calling because YOU say it is.
Here’s why embracing this is an awesome idea:
- Who is best qualified to choose your calling? YOU.
I get the appeal of telling ourselves that our calling is “out there” waiting to be discovered. There’s no denying that the quest to find our golden treasure (ahem: calling) is alluring, for sure.
It’s also misguided.
Because if your calling has already been decided on, and your happiness depends on you locating that pre-selected calling, are you fully in the driver’s seat of your life? Nope. You’re driving the car around, waiting on your calling to show up and tell you who to be, and how to live.
Does that way of thinking empower you to see yourself as the creator of your life experience? Does it encourage you to trust your own self-knowledge?
Not nearly enough, if you ask me.
Instead of believing that our callings are out there waiting on us to come find them, I’ve found that it’s much more fulfilling (not to mention practically useful) to think of your calling as something YOU create. And if you create it, then the only person who has the power to (potentially) choose a new calling at some point, is YOU. Who on earth can prove that you are wrong?
Your calling is not a genie in a bottle, impatiently waiting for you to come dig her up. Your calling is whatever you choose – that’s why it’s YOUR calling.
Your life. Your choice.
- Less pressure. More freedom.
Finding the one and only calling that will fulfill you for your WHOLE life? Damn. That’s a lot of pressure.
What if you get it wrong? What if, after 10 years, you burn out? What if you discover your calling, only to find that you love it but you’re not actually very good at it?
When we make peace with having more than one calling, and give ourselves full permission to choose our own callings, we take the pressure off. We allow ourselves a bit of grace and space to dabble and experiment before throwing ourselves headlong into a new career.
Permission granted to try something, really like it for a while, and then not like it. And here’s more permission (not that you need it) to stop doing that thing, and shift your attention somewhere else. Zero judgement.
- Don’t let your self-worth be dependent on your calling.
I know a woman who spent decades pursuing a career in athletics. She was an amazing high school and college athlete, until…
She was sidelined by an injury in her early 20s and hasn’t been able to play since. To this day, she believes that athletics was her One True Calling, and her injury has killed her chances of living her most authentic life.
Every aspect of her life (self-esteem, career, relationships) has been weighed down by this belief that she’s been sabotaged; that she’s been denied her life’s truest path.
When we invest our entire identity into one calling, any setbacks in that area aren’t just inconvenient – they chip away at our self-worth. Our confidence in who we are and what we’re capable of, takes a huge hit.
If we open ourselves up to the possibility of multiple callings, delays and detours will still sting, but they won’t dismantle our entire identity.
And with our worthiness intact, we’re resilient and capable of creatively answering the question, “So what’s my calling NOW?” and taking powerful action from there.
- Is your quest for One True Calling causing self-neglect?
Finding a calling seems noble and important, but what if the quest to commit your *entire life* to that one thing, is actually hurting more than helping?
Putting Your One True Calling on a pedestal tends to make us so singularly focused, that we justify letting other important things slide.
Because if you’re focused on your One True Calling, it’s okay to fuel your body with frozen dinners, skip workouts, and rack up mountains of credit card debt, right?
And if you’re focused on your One True Calling, you don’t have time to meditate, or to have that hard (but very important) conversation you’ve been avoiding, do you?
Buying into the myth of The One True Calling can easily pull us into a narrow way of thinking about and managing our time and priorities. Opening up to the idea of multiple callings invites a more relaxed and self-compassionate way of moving towards our goals in a sustainable and truly healthy way.
– – –
Life is long. We are complex, multi-faceted beings.
Allow yourself to grow and change. Give yourself the gift of wide open possibilities.
Choose a calling, do it for five years or two decades, evolve out of it and into something else. Lean into the freedom to follow what you want, when you want, how you want.
The only true calling you have is to create a life that works for you – and that probably involves several passions and many pursuits.
And isn’t that lovely?