We spend a lot of our lives finding our calling. We’re on a journey, thinking our calling is waiting out there to discover. Finding your calling is a matter of looking inwards.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”
Is an adage thrown around in far too many pieces of motivational content… The extended version should more accurately be,
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Because they’re not hiring…”
More tongue-in-cheek than anything, but the point is almost eerily pertinent in today’s job market.
If you pour yourself 100% into your work, the professional/personal life lines will blur. Everything will become personal to you, and a bad day of business will mean a bad day for your sense of self-worth. Instead, consider diversifying your self esteem.
“Following your passion” instead of finding your calling
Just following a path because you enjoy it as a “no-pressure fun-time” hobby may be the intuitive (and conventional wisdom) way to find your ‘calling’ but it is not going to be a successful one.
If it were so easy as to think about what you like and go have success in it there would be far more people satisfied with their situations and less feeling lost and confused, and honestly, let down by the system. Myself included.
There are more aspects to it than that — when you attempt to follow your passion you often won’t have considered the difficulties and friction you’ll face along the way.
Turning your passion into work without thinking about the factors we’ll go through in this article is a surefire way to turn something you love into something you hate.
You won’t always be right either, I’ve worked across many different industries already.
Some I loved, and some I really, really didn’t…
Internships and contracts are great ways to explore different career paths while you are early in your career. But you can always just go off on your own and learn as you go (as half of the below were done)
I worked in:
- Solar Hardware
- Data Analytics Software
- Financial Technology and Credit Lending
- Enterprise Team Management Software (Atlassian)
- Rock-climbing instructor
- Made instructional videos on youtube
- Technical Strategy Consultant for South-East Asian startups
- Worked in a Startup Accelerator
- Taught at the university and tutored high school students
- Written books and articles
- Investing in different kinds of markets
Figure out what you don’t like, what isn’t your calling
I never knew if I would enjoy something until I had done it, and done it properly. Following the lean principle of ‘fail fast’, rather than ruminating a lot without action (which only creates anxious energy… bleugh).
More haste. Less speed.
I always thought growing up that I wanted to make video games, but as soon as I started making them I found the labour turned the fun into frustration. The deadlines sucked the fun out of the interest.
How can we figure out what your calling is though?
Here are four preliminary brainstorming steps to get a list of feasible potential avenues to get you going.
- What are you good at that others aren’t good at?
I.e. what are you over-indexed on, something that you are in the top 1% of people in, or have the capacity to be.
This can be anything, many people just focus on “high-income skills” like programming, sales, marketing but those are business building skills — we’re not talking about that yet.
Are you excellent at crochet?
Do you have a strong innate sense of empathy that lets you read people more easily than others?
Be as broad as possible. We’re brainstorming!
2. What do you like that others don’t like?
We all have our quirks, which of yours make you unique? What will others avoid that you can run toward…
Do you like regulation or doing paperwork, do you like to be overwhelmed with information, or read charts all day to find patterns?
Finding enjoyment in an unusual area is a HUUUUUGE asset! This is an unfair advantage that you possess.
3. What does the world need? Ideally a problem you personally experience… so you will be your own target customer.
Identify world problems that your skills and interests apply to, bigger the better, you can always hone it in later… List small and big, it can grow and evolve over time.
Gratitude started as a (shitty) app to facilitate my own personal mindfulness exercises to strengthen my positive outlook for more sustainable happiness.
It grew and evolved with input and feedback, into something far different than where it began. You can like the Facebook page to keep up-to-date with its d i s r u p t i o n of mental health treatment.
4. What can you make money doing?
List all the ways you can apply the intersection of the three above to make money in a sustainable way.
Don’t sweat the details, just reduce the list down to a more concise group of things that you are good at, that you like and that solve a real problem.
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere right!?
Invest the 5 minutes. You spent longer scrolling instagram in the last hour, take a second to think about your future and it’ll yield dividends for years.
We’ll call this list your “Opportunity List”.
What you are uniquely positioned to be successful in. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Next we need to find what makes you unique and valuable, this will help you make your pursuit more saleable. The crux of this is BINARY SKILLS (things that traditionally don’t make sense together).
F vitaltal artCombining your binary skills with finding your calling, your Ikigai, will lead to a full life.
But we’ll leave that for next time. 🙂 In the meantime check out how you might mistakenly think you’re worse than you are at skills.
It may be fun when you do it with no stakes, but when making your next rent payment means you have to produce 4 more artworks (which no one is buying) or produce a new song (which no one is hearing) how long do you think you’ll really enjoy it if that’s all there is to it… pressure.
It’s more than passion, finding your calling is discovering who you have developed to be. That is what decides what your calling is, and if you aren’t quite ready, then you can grow into it.
Good luck, look inside, find your calling today.