Friday, May 30, 2014

How To Prepare For Your Life Calling (Even If You Don't Know What It Is Yet)

I think it’s perfectly ok to not know what your life calling is.

Sure, some folks are fortunate enough to know from a young age exactly what they were put on this earth to be and do. But for the rest of us, we may spend years of taking detours and back-tracking and making mistakes, before we start to get the picture.

Sometimes we need to experience hurts and heartaches, tests and triumphs, before we are ready to accept our life calling, much less do justice to the task.

If someone had pointed out my life-calling when I was 21 years old, it would have meant nothing to me. Nor would I have had the confidence or skills to do it well, anyway.

By the time I was 29, however, I had been sufficiently humbled and tested by challenging experiences and when my life-calling came calling for me, it was deeply personal and mattered so much to me, that I simply couldn’t refuse.

So, if you’re still trying to figure out what your “life-purpose” is, relax. Don't fret. Every experience and challenge is preparing you for the task, grooming you for the future. Stay open, stay receptive…it will be revealed when the time is right. 

But in the meantime, here’s two important things you can do:

Polish your gifts and talents.

There’s a good chance that your life calling will involve or utilize your natural gifts and abilities. I have a talent for writing, so when I knew that my life-calling was to inspire others to be healthy and live meaningful lives, it seemed natural that I should reach out to others through writing and blogging. (That’s not the only way I live out my life-calling, but it’s one avenue I use.)

When we think of gifts and talents, we think of the obvious ones like singing or dancing. The scope of human talent is incredible, and it can be easy to overlook or discount talents like being able to fix anything with a nail and hammer, being good with animals, or making other people laugh. 

All of these talents can be used to make a profound impact on the world. 

I have a dear friend with the most amazing gift for making other people feel welcome in her presence. She’s just so warm and genuinely interested in others. What a gift! When I pointed out this talent to her, she was shocked – and deeply touched. She had spent the first 41 years of her life thinking she had “no talent for anything”.

Think outside the box when it comes to your gifts. Sometimes they’re little things you do every day, and don’t really think about it. 

Sometimes it’s good to get perspective from others that know us. Ask them what they think you’re good at. Their answers might surprise you…

Realize that it’s not really about you.

Your life purpose is not about you. It’s not about making you fulfilled or complete or happy – although they are wonderful side-effects! Your life purpose is about service to others - how you are helping or making a difference for others. 

I have a friend whose life calling is to be a mechanic. It may not sound very exciting to you and me – that’s ok, because it’s not our life calling, it’s his! He dropped out of school in Form 2 (about 14 years old) to go and learn mechanics with his father. This guy knows engines like the back of his hand. He reads engine manuals in his spare time, for goodness sake! 

But you know the real reason it lights him up? It’s not the engine, or even how much he enjoys doing it, it’s simply knowing he's making a difference in other people's lives. 

He knows that here in this “poor” country, transport can mean the difference between a family taking their goods to market and earning an income, or not. Transport can mean the difference between being able to take their sick child to the hospital in the middle of the night, or not. 

For many of us, we are simply too selfish or preoccupied in our younger years, to give of ourselves to others in this way. But life has a way of humbling us, and teaching us compassion and empathy through our own suffering and tears. 

Until we have reached a point where we care about other beings enough to suffer for them, put ourselves “out there” for them, sacrifice our time and energy for them…our life calling will remain meaningless (and probably hidden from us).

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