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6 Proven Tips for Finding Your Calling

Author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life Gregg Levoy gave a talk a few weeks ago in Mountain View about his book and finding your purpose. This is part 2 of the talk. Part 1 can be read here.

He asked people how they interpreted random events as proof they had found their calling. Here are their answers:

1. Repeat visits.

One person said they knew that they had found their calling because it kept coming back and never went away.

Have you ever had something happen to you and it happened over and over again?

About a decade ago, I was sitting on the floor in Borders’s career section desperate and lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up and I felt I was old enough to know by now. It was a frustrating experience. But in time I started to get signs. I heard about a new program in psychology from a friend. Then, I found an ad in the paper on a class teaching a course related to that program. I began hearing and seeing psychology everywhere. Eventually I got it and enrolled in the MA program in Counseling Psychology.

2. Multiple angles.

It came from all different directions. That’s what another person said. Have you ever had a reoccurring dream and read a book about something and then got feedback from a friend about it later? That’s called clustering and Levoy said it happens where dots begins to form in different areas of your life. And all you need to do is begin connecting them.

It happened to me when I was reading this book. Several times. On one occasion, I went to a cottage in Point Reyes for the weekend. I noticed a sign on the gate door. We passed it every time we left. It was a quote from Annie Dillard that said, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.”

Now I hadn’t ever heard of Annie Dillard, but I took a picture of the sign because I thought it was a nice quote.

Moments later while I was in the cottage, I read that same exact quote from the same exact person.

The next day, we were in the town’s bookstore and guess what I saw? A book by author Annie Dillard.

What was the “sign” in that situation? It was a reminder to me that I needed to slow down and be conscious of how I was spending my time. It was a wake up call. One that only came to me several days later.

3. Intuition.

Have you ever done something that “just felt right” in your soul?

Maybe you took a class that really moved you or you read something or heard a talk that you really connected with. Those are all signs from your intuition, your gut instinct that you are on the right path. Keep taking steps in that direction (kind of like playing “hot and cold” as a kid). Go closer to the events that feel hot and move away from the things that feel cold and you will discover your calling sooner than later.

4. Scared poop-less.

One person said that they knew they were on the right path because it “scared the daylight’s out of” them. Levoy said,”If a path feels safe and easy you’re probably not on the right path.”

I used to think that if things were easy then that meant you were where you were supposed to be. I think that’s because I was too scared to do anything risky.

In reflection, however, anything that ever scared me (being on a radio show), anything that forced me to look deep inside myself and pull out the courage I didn’t know I had (being on TV), was where real growth occurred. It’s where one step lead to another step and that move led to my dreams.

You will not live an authentic life. You will not live the life of your dreams unless you take big risks. Life demands your courage. Your dreams can only become a reality when you step up to the plate. You have it in there. But first you must work on your courage.

5. Find your answers in the results.

A lot of times we don’t know we are on the right path until we know. You can’t sit in your house and dream big dreams, then do nothing about them. My theory is that successful people got where they are because they tried. They failed as hard as they succeeded. But they were successful because they didn’t stop.

Levoy said to take a step toward your dreams and pay attention. Think about how you feel at every corner, every step, every action and inaction. Use the experience as an experiment and you will eventually find the answers you are looking for.

There is no perfect formula for finding your dreams. A lot of it is trial and error. Most of it is learning to be mindful, to pay attention, to listen to what you already knew when you were a kid.

The hardest part of finding your calling is not in discovering it. It is in rediscovering it and then working through the fear to get to it.

This is a extensive topic so I will be writing part 3, which is all about fear. Stay tuned for that in an upcoming post.

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