How to Tell the Difference Between Your Life’s Calling and a Whim
“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
You were put here for a reason. With your unique personality, skills, passions, and point of view. You’re meant to do very unique work in this world. And what’s that, you might be wondering? Show up and be you. Do what you’re called to do.
So many of us go through life with a clear sense (or maybe just a nagging feeling deep inside) that we’re not living up to our full potential. An understanding that there’s more to life than the nine to five job, getting married, having kids, and saving enough money for a comfortable retirement and some fun things to pass the time until we die.
Often, we think that “finding our purpose” means discovering some great calling or to do hugely important things in the world…you know, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr style. That’s simply not true.
We’re all put here with different personalities, passions, and skills. If you feel called to make art, then you were put here to make art. If you feel called to write, record, build, design, speak, or explore, then you were put here to do just that.
We have to find what lights us up, what we feel called to do, and do it.
With all the possibilities, desires, and “shoulds,” it can be hard sometimes to make sense of what your true calling is and what’s simply a fleeting desire or whim. Desires and whims are important and can be excellent tools in guiding you towards what you need next in your life, but it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Whim: A sudden or capricious idea; a fancy. Arbitrary thought or impulse: governed by whim
Calling: A vocation, profession, or trade; a call or summons; a strong impulse or inclination.
How to distinguish between a calling and a whim
1. A CALLING IS MAGNETIC AND ALL-CONSUMING
Callings draw you towards them. They start as a tiny nagging thought or feeling, then begin to consume your mind and drive your everyday life. They can’t be ignored. You’ll feel a sense of urgency and a strong inclination to follow a calling, whereas a whim is oftentimes fleeting.
Whims are impulsive and may feel as though they’ve come out of nowhere. Callings start deep inside of us, stirring and growing over time until they simply can’t be ignored any longer. Ignoring a strong calling will leave you feeling frustrated, unfulfilled, antsy, and very discontent with your life and career if these things are out of alignment.
2. THE CORE FOCUS OF A CALLING IS ALWAYS PRESENT
If you feel called to care for animals, inspire healthy lifestyle changes in others, or end global warming, that will always drive you, regardless of how you choose to act on it.
If you’re called to care for animals, you may be a veterinarian, create a nonprofit against factory farming, become a vegan health coach, or even just foster shelter animals until they can find their forever homes. You may even do one or more of these in your lifetime, but the core of what calls you will always be present.
If you’re called to inspire healthy lifestyle changes in others, you may be a health coach, write a cookbook, start a gluten-free baked goods store, or become a personal trainer. You may also just love to cook healthy meals, learn about organic urban farming, and keep yourself in shape, effectively inspiring those around you to do the same. Inspiring change is always present.
Whims, on the other hand, vary greatly. There may be times you feel a desire to be active, social, rebellious, or experimental, while other times you feel the desire to be still, go inside yourself, or cut ties. They are necessary, but they are also temporary.
3. CALLINGS ARE ABOUT CONTRIBUTION
Whether you feel called to make art or change the course of global warming, all callings are about contributing to the world. Through your words, actions, presence, and creations. This is why they matter.
Your views, experiences, voice, and ideas are meant to be shared, and your calling will align itself with some way to express these things, though the medium varies from person to person. Your calling is as unique as you are.
Whims are more selfish and focused on you. What you feel the desire or need to do for yourself in this moment. Achieving some desired feeling, experience, knowledge, or connection. Whims feed and fuel us, allow us to rejuvenate our spirits and refill the well of ideas and inspiration, but they’re narrow by nature.
So, what’s calling you?
What drives you and everything you want to create in your life? What is the thing (or things) that matters most to you?
Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com, a full-service life purpose development, design, and branding boutique. Through her Mastery Program, she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help men and women build passion-based lives and businesses they love. Click here to access her free Foundations for Unshakable Joy™ video training series and learn the unexpected trick to transforming your life with one single question! Connect with Stephenie on Facebook and Twitter!
*Image courtesy of Adam Foster | Codefor.February 6, 2014