So here’s one of my new favorite things: Jeff Goins’s “Three Important Lessons to Find Your Calling,” a summary of the top truths Goins learned while researching for his book The Art of Work—and an absolute treasure trove of wisdom for those seeking their dream career.
“Most of us…search for epiphanies when, in fact, we should be learning to live with ambiguity,” Goins writes. “The clarity we seek is a myth.”
I agree. A wide swath of career-seekers expect thunderbolt revelations of their true callings when instead they should brace themselves for gradual realizations of their true gifts and interests. Of course, the world doesn’t completely lack for people born knowing what they wanted to do, but those are a fairly rare breed!
So what should you do now? Here is Goins’ advice.
1. Don’t Wait for Clarity
Just move. Pick something up and try it out. Chase a dream for a while. You can’t steer a parked car (as a friend of mine once put it), so first get in gear and get on down the road. Your calling is huge, after all; it is “what you were put on Earth to do—your assignment, if you will,” says Goins, so where do we get the idea we have to nail it the first time? “Act, then define what you’re doing…. Clarity comes with action.”
2. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you should quit
“Naming and claiming a dream is a popular trend these days. What’s far less popular is the disciplined practice of a craft—spending thousands of thankless hours getting great at something before sharing it with the world. If you tell me ‘I want to be an author’ but have never written a word, I’m skeptical. If you say ‘I was born to be a carpenter’ but have never lifted a hammer, I’m doubtful.”
This is just another way of saying put your money where your mouth is. An ambition is worth only the sweat you give it. So you have a career goal? Work at it like an athlete on the field: all in. Give 100% before you have the swagger to claim your future. More often than not, this requires honing your craft (whatever it is) while it’s still just a hobby; it demands discipline in the dark where there’s no pomp or recognition and you aren’t getting paid, you’re simply doing what you love.
The good news? “You become what you practice.”
3. Commit, but be prepared to pivot
This is my favorite piece of advice from Goins—a compromise between sitting on your hands and barreling 100 mph towards the wrong dream: “Make a seasonal commitment. Choose something that strikes your fancy based on the possibility that it could be your dream. In other words: Experiment. Not in a flaky, noncommittal way. Pick something, and commit to it for a season.”
If you’re like me, you’re naturally opposed to uncertainty and change. If I pick a new direction, I want to know that it’ll work out for the next 50 years. But you’ll never find your calling if guarantees of rock-sure longevity are your idol.
Your life is a book; chapters are natural. Be willing to try something out for a chapter to see if it’s worth even more. “When in doubt, commit.”
How Find Your Calling helps
Have you always felt your calling in your bones? Or are you in your thirties, still trying to figure it out with nothing to go on except the gut-level sensation that your real mission is yet ahead of you?
We created Find Your Calling for both extremes and everyone in between. Ambiguity? You should still be comfortable working with it and through it. But the goal of Find Your Calling is to help you achieve everything recommended by Goins—faster. Because when you discover careers suited to your unique gifts and interests, then you gain ideas that you know are worth pursuing before you gain total clarity or confidence, that make the hard practice easier, and that offer seasonal commitments with inherent value.