Finding your calling is all the rage these days. It’s sexy to find your calling. Everyone’s doing it, it seems. Finding your calling is the new black.
But if you’re one of the many who haven’t yet found it, the process of seeking it can make you feel psycho, like you’ve got a giant “L” plastered to your forehead and the Universe has shunned you, just like the mean kids did back in seventh grade.
I remember the feeling well. Back in 2007, after quitting my stable job in medicine–which I once believed was my calling—I found myself floundering, thrashing around like a fish in a washing machine, feeling completely ungrounded, confused, and lost, not to mention toxically anxious. After twelve years and $200,000 worth of painful medical education, along with eight years of practice experience, I found myself unemployed and seemingly unqualified to do anything else. Plus, my husband didn’t have a job. Oh, and we had a newborn. And a mortgage. And graduate school debt.
The three years that followed became a desperate search for what would come next. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty. I wound up writing a memoir that every publisher on the planet rejected. I made art nobody bought because the economy tanked. I had to sell my house and liquidate my retirement account. When that money ran out, I had to borrow money and start loading up my credit cards. After two desperate years, I finally took another job in medicine, this time at an integrative medicine practice—only it still wasn’t the right job, and I wound up quitting, at a financial loss.
I had many dark nights of the soul.
Becoming a Butterfly
Finding your calling resembles being a caterpillar that climbs into the cocoon. Caterpillars don’t just enter the chrysalis and sprout wings, you know. Before they become butterflies, they essentially become bug soup, dissolving completely before being reborn as something new and beautiful.
I was that in 2008—bug soup. Cellular sewage. Spiritual pond water.
Then something happens—something you can’t rush—and one day, you emerge reborn, owning and claiming your calling. What happens in the interim may seem unpredictable—more like magic than science—but it’s not. It’s a totally predictable lifecycle like the one I described in The Life Cycle of a Visionary.
In the process of experiencing this for myself and guiding my mentoring clients through similar journeys, I’ve realized that there’s a whole mythology around what it means to find your calling, and most of it is total hogwash.
So let me bust a few myths for you, just in case you’re feeling like bug soup these days.
Seven Myths About Finding Your Calling
Myth #1: Callings Come with Business Plans
This is horse manure. I could never have written a business plan for the way in which I’m called to serve on this planet. All you can do is follow the hot tracks one step at a time, each time getting closer and closer, honing in on your purpose until everything in your being says “YES!” (Usually followed closely by “Hell no!” Don’t worry. That phase is temporary.)
Myth #2: You Only Get One Calling
Nope. Sometimes callings show up with expiration dates. You do what you’re here to do. You complete it. And then you’re called to do something else.
Myth #3: Only Chosen People Have Callings
If you think callings are a luxury reserved for Divinely chosen, extraordinary people, you’re totally off base. Well, sort of. The reality is that every single one of us is a Divinely chosen, extraordinary person with a calling just waiting to be fulfilled. Own it. Claim yours. The planet needs you desperately.
Myth #4: Callings Must Come with Paychecks
Some people are called to be stay-at-home moms. Others are called to volunteer to do food distribution at a refugee camp in Africa. You don’t have to get paid for fulfilling your calling. (Though it sure is nice when you are!)
Myth #5: If You’re Following Your Calling, Life Is Easy All the Time
You don’t want to be going upstream, but even if you’re flowing downstream, you’re still likely to hit some rapids. Finding your calling definitely leaves you feeling like you’re in the flow more often than not, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hit your rough patches. If anything, the challenges just reaffirm your commitment to fulfilling what you’re called to do, reminding you how much what you’re doing matters.
Myth #6: Finding Your Calling Means You Have to Quit Your Stable Job
Sometimes finding your calling requires you to take a leap of faith and quit the job that isn’t your calling. But callings aren’t all or nothing. There’s no reason you can’t pay the bills with a stable job that doesn’t necessarily light your fire while fulfilling your calling on the side.
Myth #7: You Must Have a Breakdown to Find Your Calling
For many, a breakdown precedes a breakthrough. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re listening to whispers from the Universe. You don’t have to wait for the proverbial 2 x 4 to thwack you upside the head. I was sound asleep before finding my calling, so I needed my Perfect Storm to blow through and shake me out of my complacency. But you don’t have to wait for the Universe to smack you. You can voluntarily leap out of your comfort zone and into your calling, if you’re self-aware and brave enough to do so. (More power to ya if you are!)
The Truth About Finding Your Calling
While these myths simply aren’t true, there are some definitive truths about finding your calling that I’ll be sharing with those of you who are inspired to join me, along with my sheroes Martha Beck—O Magazine columnist, the original life coach, and bestselling author of Finding Your Own North Star and Finding Your Way In A Wild New World—and Amy Ahlers—life coach and author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves. We’ll be discussing these myths in more detail, as well as sharing the truths anyone trying to find their calling must know in order to discover their purpose.
Have You Found Your Calling? Do you know what you’re here on this earth to do? How are you meant to serve the planet? What legacy will you leave? What’s your life purpose?
Share your thoughts here in the comments, and we’ll “see” you on the tele-jam!
Following My North Star,
*Photo by MrClean1982.
BUY DR. LISSA RANKIN’S BOOK BELOW:October 9, 2012