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Your Life Calling: Find It & Live It

In this article, we discuss a topic that’s very close to my heart: life calling.

This isn’t an airy-fairy idealistic talk about how life would be wonderful if we could all live our passions. It’s not an escape so that you can fantasise about your perfect life yet never do anything to create it.

Rather, this is a practical, big-picture roadmap and guide to finding your life calling and living it. I want you to eventually make this your full-time career. That is what finding and living your life calling means to me.

If you dislike your life and feel that there is a well of untapped potential in you, this might be exactly what you need. Yet it’s not enough to read articles: you need to take action, and here we’ll learn what action is necessary.

Passion is caring enough about your art that you will do almost anything to give it away, to make it a gift, to change people.

Seth Godin

Let’s begin by talking about what a life calling is. To do so, we’ll distinguish it from a job and a career.

Job, Career and Life Calling

  1. Job: work you do solely to earn money;
  2. Career: a series of jobs within a field that promise promotion and advancement. Often leads to financial success and stability, but not necessarily passion;
  3. Life Calling: work that you love and that is part of your mission in life, your dream. You take it personally. It’s not just a means to end, or to pay the bills or retire early. You love the work itself. The work itself is the point.

Most people are ignorant of life calling and only known about jobs and careers. In fact, they actively deny that a life calling is possible, calling it idealistic, impossible, only for the chosen, lucky few. “Why not just stick with a career? It’s more stable,” they argue.

Well, it’s quite easy to explain why a career isn’t enough.

What’s Wrong with a Job or Career?

Since you’re reading this article, I imagine you already intuit the problems of merely having a job or career.

The harsh reality is that most people spend 40 hours per week doing mind-numbing work that means little to them. Then they spend their free time trying to forget about their work or dreading their return to it. They’re dying out for a life calling, and have some inkling of one, but have no idea how to make it real, and believe it’s impossible.

This is true even of many high-earning professionals, because they’re working primarily for the benefits of their work. They’re not interested in the work itself.

If you’re wondering why you feel unfulfilled with your cushy career, it’s because it’s not inherently meaningful to you. You’re motivated by the externals, not by the work.

Even though you have material success and security, it feels empty, and you need a deeper meaning. You might have spent years or decades chasing your tail, seeking promotions and bigger paychecks, only to realise that it was all a mirage.

This passion won’t spontaneously materialise in your career through bigger paychecks and more prestige. You either have to re-engineer your career or change tack.

Litmus Test

Here’s the litmus test for whether your work is part of your life calling: Would you do the work if you didn’t get paid to do it?

And here’s the ultra litmus test: Would you pay to do the work?

If you can genuinely answer yes to these questions, particularly the latter, you’ll be lit up inside. You’ll know it’s meaningful.

What is a personal calling? It is God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream.

Paulo Coelho

Why Only 0.1% of People Live Their Life Calling

Let’s talk about why only 0.1% of people live their calling.

It’s because there’s a huge cost to pay: the discomfort and uncertainty you’ll experience. When you have a mission, you usually can’t just follow the beaten path. It’s so personal and idiosyncratic that other people can’t really help. You have to go into the thick jungle with a machete and hack your own way through.

This is why nobody pursues their life calling. It’s too painful, too uncertain, and too emotionally challenging.

But this usually becomes at the beginning. To make it through the early days, where you seem to be hacking and getting nowhere, you must think 10, 20, 30 years ahead. What could you create? What if you don’t create it? Will you regret it on your deathbed? This inspiring vision will take you through the pain and uncertainty.

You have to grasp the importance of this. Are you living up to your potential? Are you fueled?

To live your life calling, you must first discover it, and there are three phases to this process.

Phase 1: Discovering Your Life Calling

There are four steps involved in finding your life calling. You don’t have to rigidly follow these steps and they probably won’t form a linear progression, but you’ll have to do them all at some point if you want to make this real.

Explore

You must explore life to find your life calling. Life is so vast with so many areas to be inspired by. We come metaphorically wired with a fascination for it. This is what gives us verve and passion. Joseph Campbell calls this phase finding your bliss.

However, if you’ve spent years doing soul-destroying work, you might have lost touch with this wonder. Now is the time to rediscover it. The less passion you have, the more exploring you might have to do. But if you’re already in touch with your passion, you won’t have to explore much. In fact, you might even know what you love, and just need to do research and find your niche.

You must explore freely. Don’t think about practicalities at this stage. You most likely only have a rudimentary understanding of your future field and radically underestimate the range of possibilities out there. Remember: your goal is to find a field or pursuit you love for its own sake. Pretend there are no practicalities. Trust that these will be taken care of later in the process.

Don’t listen to other people when they try to shoehorn you into a pre-defined path or mold you to their expectations. They don’t know what makes you tick, and they’re likely stuck in the obsession with jobs and careers. If they understand how the life calling works, they won’t interfere in your journey.

How do you explore? It’s quite easy. Try new things, read new books, develop new hobbies and interests. Revisit old interests or inklings that you never pursued. Expose yourself to lots of input.

When you hit on some passion, narrow it down and explore further.

Narrow Down

If you do the Explore phase properly, you should find one new area that particularly excites you. It has almost a mythic quality. It stirs you. Your passion goes beyond the field itself and relates to some kind of impact you want to have. This is when you know you’re getting close to unearthing your life calling.

During my explore phase, I found psychology and meditation. I remember I used to be moved to tears as I read books about them, because I knew I’d found a new realm that I loved. I knew I wanted to help people have deep insights into their inner workings. I had no idea how I was going to make it work, and the idea of doing so scared me, but I had found my new direction in life.

It must stir you. Don’t choose any old pursuit, or only focus on apparently lucrative fields. Only once you’ve narrowed it down can you begin thinking about practicalities.

Research

Now the research phase begins. This is you beginning to discover how your passion will work in the real world.

Research leading figures, trends, businesses, business opportunities, job opportunities, and subfields. I can guarantee, no matter your passion, other people are already out there making a living from it.

What needs are out there? How can you make a difference? What do you want to fight to improve? You don’t need to get super practical here. Aim to get a good general picture of the state of things in your field.

Once you’ve done this for a few months, you’re ready to define your life calling.

Define

We’re aiming for one sentence that sums up your life calling. There are three components to it: the impact statement, your medium, and your zone of genius.

The impact statement is the impact you’ll have on the world through your life calling.
Your medium is the channel or channels required for you to make it happen. Perhaps you’ll be writing, speaking, doing therapy, teaching, or painting.
Your domain of mastery is the area that you will put 10,000 hours towards. What do you want to be world-class at?

Put these three together and make it simple, concise and concrete. It should be easy to understand and not full of technical jargon.

You have your life calling. Now it’s time to make it real.

Phase 2: Make Your Life Calling Real

This is a challenging phase, so you need to have a battle plan. Fortunately, we’ll be running through everything you need to make it happen.

Though the specifics vary greatly according to your life calling, the general process is the same.

we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.

Paulo Coelho

Your Needs

You need to start by defining everything you need to fulfil your impact statement. This is all highly specific to your specific purpose, but is also quite simple to define.

  • Skills: technical knowledge, marketing, speaking, writing, etc.;
  • Qualifications: degree, masters, professional courses, self-study;
  • Money: to tide you over and invest into skills or business;
  • Knowledge: of industry, marketplace, income streams, trends, cutting-edge work, innovators, opportunities, etc.

It can be quite overwhelming to realise how much you need to make your life calling a reality, but know that you’ll chip away at it over months and years and eventually reach levels of competence that you never dreamed of.

Sequence of Deadlines

Now we establish a sequence of deadlines so that we know if we’re on track with our life calling or not.

Don’t obsess about how long it will take to get here. Setting the goal and having a clear target is the main reason we’re doing this.

To be sure, you’ll underestimate how long it takes to get traction, but you’ll overestimate how long it’ll then take to have great success in the project. The beginning is always the hardest part, but once we overcome it, results come quick.

Deadline for acquiring skills: date by which you will achieve proficiency in the basic skills required. This is the first layer of the cake. Once you have your skills, you can start using them.

Deadline for structures: perhaps you need to start a business, or create a portfolio, or seek your first clients. You’re creating the structures behind your moneymaking mechanism.

Deadline for monetising: when will you start to earn money from this?

Deadline for making a living: if you’re entering full-time employment, this will probably be the same as your deadline for monetising. If you’re working freelance or starting a business, it might take time to monetise it enough to make a living from it. For example, I started making some money from my business two years ago, but amn’t quite making enough to live on it.

Deadline for impact statement: by when do you want to have fully realised your impact statement? Think 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ahead.

Two tectonic plates can grind against one another for millions of years, the tension slowly building all the while. Then, one day, they rub each other once again, in the same fashion they have for ages, but this time the tension is too great. An earthquake erupts. Change can take years – before it all happens at once.

James Clear

Build Habits

Now we come to the critical point in this process of living your life calling.

It’s great to have your life calling written down along with your needs and deadlines, but that is all just theory. It means nothing if you don’t translate them into reality. Habits are how you do so.

Your life calling won’t all of a sudden become a reality. It isn’t a chance occurrence. It happens because you take thousands of baby steps, and eventually they add up and create an exponential explosion.

I liken it to making a fire from scratch. You clash two stones together over and over again for ages. Nothing seems to happen for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even more. Then, all of a sudden, a spark ignites, your kindling catches fire, and a few minutes later you have logs burning. All that prior graft seems trivial now, but it was necessary.

Your habits are what make your life calling real. They take it from your dreams and imagination and make it work in the objective world. They’re crucial whatever stage you’re at, though especially at the beginning.

Habits are simple and uncontrived. What things can you do every day to make this thing real? Usually these things are hidden in plain view. Don’t search for fancy techniques, but simple, repeatable acts.

Your habits should serve to meet the needs you identified earlier. You need habits related to skills, qualifications, knowledge and monetising.

Strike a balance between consistency and difficulty. If they’re too difficult, you won’t be able to maintain them, and your life calling will forever remain a dream. Too easy, and they won’t be powerful enough to bring huge change.

Be ready to chop and change them as you walk your path. My habits morph and change over time. Right now I’m very focused on output, so they are article writing, meditation, and marketing. In the past, my habits were very skills-based: vocab practice, sentence analysis, and reading.



The Final Boss: Making a Living From Your Life Calling

And now we come to the final boss of this journey: making a living from your life calling.

I consider that if you can make a living from this purpose, it’s your life calling. You’re a professional. If not, you’re going to be distracted by other income streams and feel divided.

See this as the final boss in the video game. It’s like a royal seal, irrefutable evidence that you’ve went through this process and created a valuable service or product.

Many people say that the most difficult part of business is monetising. It’s not the idea, or your dream, or your habits. It’s really making money from your business and establishing yourself. And I think the same is true of our life calling, however we choose to make money from it.

This is when we truly bring our purpose into the world and it becomes a living, breathing reality. It’s when all our dreams and ideas are put to the test. Do people truly value our work? Are they willing to spend their earnings on it?

This is also the stage where everything we’ve learned is put to the test. Have we done enough research? Are we truly passionate about this? Do we have the required persistence? Do we have the skills? Have we understood the market?

before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream.

Paulo Coelho


In my case, monetising has been the hardest part, especially because I’ve had to walk a fine line between earning enough money through other means and not spending too much time doing so.

At the same time, monetising has made me feel that this project really is real, not just a fantasy. I know that it has been worth the struggle, and soon I’ll be able to support myself from it.

Now it’s over to you. You have a big picture map for how to live your life calling. Follow this map, and your life calling could sustain you for the rest of your life. Be brave, friends, and trust in that passion of yours. It’ll pay off, big time.

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