When I was in college trying to figure out what to do with my life, I did many things to help me find direction and guidance.
I was in search of my meaning and purpose.
“What am I here to do?”
“What does the universe want me to do? What’s my life mission?”
While I was asking myself these profound questions, I regret that I went searching for the answer in the wrong places: parents, college counselors, and society. See, when I was asking this question to my Indian parents, the answer was direct and to the point.
Regardless of what I wanted or even imagined I wanted, my parents thought they KNEW what I wanted. Or should want. When I had thoughts like, “I wanted to help people” or “teach” or “write,” my Indian parents unanimously declared, “You can be a lawyer.”
For my parents, it wasn’t about a calling. Our parents often imagine that we can find our calling after we find stable professional jobs. After we are guaranteed a comfortable salary, we are free to go about finding our reason for being.
At university, the career counselors were on a similar but slightly different mindset. When I mentioned that I wanted to help people and use my writing skills, they too perked up with ideas that would make money, land me a job, and help me become a future contributing member of the alumni association!
And society – well, forget about society. When I started looking around to take note of who is viewed as successful. I noticed that society viewed people with many degrees, and traditional, well-paying jobs as the pinnacle of success.
What I didn’t see at the time is that success can be defined in many different ways. Good pay and job security are only a couple of them. Fulfillment, happiness, love, and joy are some of the other more profound ways of achieving success.
Anyway, long story short, I listened to all the advice and did what any rational liberal arts student would do under such circumstances: enrolled in law school. 10 years later, I can tell you that I’m no longer practicing law.
After a decade of courtroom trials, negotiating contracts and wearing fancy suits to work, I’ve had some realizations about life and work. I wish I had known these things earlier, but here is what I now know about following and staying true to your calling.
The 4 Laws to Stay True to Your Calling and Life Purpose
1. Your inner voice is real.
Just because it’s you talking, rather than another person, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to it. We have a tendency to ignore or resist that voice within, although it’s one of the most powerful voices available to us.
Your intuition can be your sounding board, your guide, and your best advisor on what you should be doing with your life. The profound answers to your life and purpose are inspired within you, not around you.
Yes, you need external experiences and have to try things to see how you resonate with them, but your inner voice is a silent and wise guide. Some quiet time allows you to hear your inner voice. Be more willing to be guided by it.
2. Be open to living with uncertainty.
If you want certainty in your life, check the career guides to determine which profession pays the most, and do that. You’re doubly in luck if you pick a profession that is also in high demand. During our formative years, society pushes us to be productive and efficient, which it equates with high income and job stability.
This, however, comes at a personal cost of our happiness. And you’ll soon realize that in life nothing is constant or certain. Everything changes. If you take your own path in pursuit of your calling, the path will be a little rockier and unfamiliar, but you’re more likely to live an authentic life.
Learn to be comfortable with not knowing – you don’t always have to have an answer or predict your future. Finally, know that the journey will reveal more. The more you try, the more you do and the further you travel on your life path, the more insights, and clarity you’ll have.
The more you see what doesn’t work or what doesn’t resonate with you, the more clarity you’ll have. You don’t have to have all the answers now.
3. Choose yourself.
The world is changing. No matter how certain or stable your job is, anything can happen. James Altucher wrote a popular manifesto reminding you to Choose Yourself instead of waiting for others to choose you.
In a world when technology is reducing work and people are more dispensable than ever, Altucher encourages us to pick ourselves instead of waiting to be picked.
He encourages us to pursue our passions, continuously improve and do things that will help us stand out. Instead of waiting for permission, set up your own platform (blog, website, freelance business, Youtube channel) and share your talents with the world.
4. Do what makes your soul sing.
Some say don’t follow your passion because your passion doesn’t pay. Your passion may not pay, but your expertise will. And your ability to meet or fulfill someone’s need will too.
The ideal situation is when you’re offering a product or service to someone who needs help, while also doing what you enjoy doing. You don’t have to immediately quit your job and pursue passionate work. You can build it up over time.
While you’re waiting, you can learn, experiment, provide services, freelance, blog, or teach those things you’re passionate about. Even if you’re not pursuing your life’s passion in your day job, intertwine those things that make you feel good while at work. And focus on a side hustle or passion business in your spare time.
Or, as a start, just do more of what makes your soul sing: more yoga; more reading and writing; more art, photography, and cooking. Live your bliss. When your soul sings with joy from the activities you’re doing, you’ll be more inspired, more creative, and more in alignment with your true calling.
Are you staying true to your life’s calling, or have you forgotten about it altogether? Follow the 4 laws we mentioned above and let us know the results in the comments below.