Ever felt that sudden rush?
A vocation pops into your head: writer, politician, Ozzy Osbourne tribute act. And it’s like somebody’s flicked a switch.
You’ve finally got it. You know what you’re meant to do with your life.
How long until you start to doubt yourself? A month? A week? Maybe even a day?
Then you’re back to feeling stuck and frustrated.
Or maybe you’ve never even had that feeling. Perhaps you’re completely lost. And you’d give your left arm just to have an inkling, even if it turned out to be wrong.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Finding your purpose is exhausting.
It’s like yo-yoing between certainty and doubt, and you’re spinning with a hundred different emotions all the way up and down.
So how can you overcome this seemingly endless struggle?
I’d like to share a simple hack. And I guarantee you’re going to enjoy it.
What If You Get it Wrong?
Finding your calling is a serious undertaking.
It’s one of the most important journeys you’ll ever make. And the discovery is pure gold. An entire self-spawning Gringotts vault of the stuff (apologies to anyone who isn’t a Harry Potter fan).
But it’s also burdensome. And I’ll bet you’ve felt the weight of a potential lifelong decision.
What if you waste time pursuing the wrong thing?
What if you’re not capable of achieving your dream job?
What if financial ruin waits down the road?
All these “what ifs” are like a straitjacket. They tighten and tighten until you can’t move.
So how can you twist yourself free?
Have You Forgotten How to Have Fun?
Take a moment to consider this question:
When’s the last time you had fun?
And I don’t mean enjoying a Youtube video or a good takeaway.
When did you last do something truly joyful?
The fact you even have to think about this tells you something important.
In fact, research shows that play is essential to our mental health and well-being. And we’re forgetting how to do it.
So what’s my point here?
A sense of play might be exactly what’s missing from your search for your vocation.
When you introduce fun activities into your search for purpose and passion, you instantly shake all those negative misgivings, creating an opportunity for exploration and positivity.
And that’s when you can really open up to things.
Time for Fancy Dress
You’re probably thinking, “This is all well and good. But it doesn’t help me in a practical sense.”
Well, hold up just a second.
Because I’ve got a simple trick for you.
It’s called “fancy-dress for a day”.
Sound silly? It is. But it’s also effective. And fun.
Here’s what’s involved:
Pick one potential calling then spend a day “living it”.
Want to be a writer? Spend a day typing out the first chapter of your novel. Pile your desk high with books. Scribble “Call From Editor at 4PM” onto a post-it-note and stick it to your wall. Prepare a short piece for your imaginary writers’ group that evening.
Want to run a food van selling homemade samosas? Spend a day sketching the designs for your new truck, doing market research (i.e. stuffing your face at the local farmer’s market), and ringing suppliers to get some quotes.
If you’ve got a lurking suspicion you’re destined to be a politician, write a speech and deliver it to an imaginary parliament in your kitchen. Spend the evening canvassing with your local party or attending a political discussion.
You can get as creative as you want with this. And it’s a great way to experiment in a quick, low-investment, and fun way.
So how can you tell when you’re on the right track?
You Do “Just Know”…But Not in the Way You Think
You’ve probably heard that old cliche, “You just know when you’ve found your calling.”
The problem is that it’s kind of true. Just not in the way everybody thinks.
Most people are way too cerebral about the whole process of finding their vocation. They read books, sit at their desks doing self-discovery exercises, and just wait around hoping things will become clear.
All of these activities have a place. But they miss an essential point.
To find your passion, you need to be willing to sample things (like in the “fancy dress” example above).
Because that’s usually when intuition appears. You don’t wake up one morning and “just know”.
Instead, you’ll be immersed in an activity, one that’s naturally engaging and (you guessed it) fun, and you’ll hear yourself say, “Yes! This is exactly for me.”
Now I don’t mean to over-simplify this process. Feelings aren’t always certain.
But that loud and booming “yes” is one of the clearest signposts on the path to calling.
Take a minute to ask yourself why you want to find your calling.
Do you want a sense of meaning?
The chance to make a difference?
What about freedom from boredom and dissatisfaction?
All of these things are essential motivators on the journey to purpose.
But, as you dig deeper, I’ll bet there’s another feeling you’re craving.
Your work is nothing if it doesn’t bring you joy. Not all the time, of course. But at least a good chunk of it.
Keep that point in mind as you forge ahead.
Author Bio: My name’s Dan and I run a blog called Meant for Something More. I write about purpose, productivity, and ways to make a living from meaningful work. Download my free guide: 7 Essential Books to Help You Find Your Passion and Do Truly Meaningful Work.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.