How to Find Your Calling

Path of life sculpture garden, Windsor, VT, October 9th, 2010
This post appeared on the Erika’s Lighthouse blog.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”
–George Bernard Shaw
What do you think of when a person says she has found her calling? For many people, the word “calling” has religious implications—we often hear about someone being called into ministry or to the Torah. But discovering your calling is one of the keys to emotional well-being and can provide you with the confidence to address the hard decisions we all face.

What is a Calling?

Your calling is where “Who You Are” (who you really are) intersects with “What the World Needs.” “Who You Are” means that you understand and are using your unique talents and inherent strengths. The second component, “What the World Needs”, means that the activities in which you are engaged are valued by society. When those two dynamics intersect, you’ll find your calling. You’ll be your authentic self and the activities in which you’re engaged will give you pleasure and have meaning.

Why Find a Calling?

William Damon, Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, writes in his book The Path to Purpose that many young adults without a calling, “Report an inner life of anxiety and a sense of feeling trapped in a life that is not under their own control. They feel disappointed in themselves and discouraged by what life has offered them thus far.”
Through finding a calling, you will know yourself better and will be equipped to answer the tough questions that lie ahead. You will have a purpose to work towards and you’ll gain your own sense of value and self-worth from accomplishing the goals you set. And, as Damon suggests, “Passionately pursuing a purpose directly engages young people in life experiences likely to enhance their optimism and self-confidence.”

How to Find Your Calling

 To paraphrase noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, you discover your calling by daring to listen to yourself throughout your life. By doing so, Maslow suggests that you will be equipped to “choose wisely for a life.” In my work, I coach young adults to understand who they are by helping them examine their:
  • Dreams
  • Interests & Passions
  • Skills & Abilities
  • Talents & Strengths
  • Motivations
  • Values
  • Goals
When you understand “Who You Are”, you can start to explore where you can apply yourself. And, no – you don’t have to have all the answers right now! But, if you consciously work to discover your calling, you’ll feel more confident that you’re on the right track towards choosing wisely for your life.