Mar 24, 2022

On Finding Your Calling

On Finding Your Calling

On Finding Your Calling

Nathan King

How is it that more people struggle with anxiety and depression than ever before, when in the US we live in an era that offers an historically unprecedented array of choice and possibility? Somehow, despite the freedom to live a life suffused with purpose, people struggle to find meaning. A common life path for us American moderns is to enter adulthood with great energy, only to become bogged down by disillusionment. The finance career that seemed to promise meaning in making money feels empty. The pursuit of graduate school in order to become a professor results in a routine of administrative tedium. Noticing that something bigger is missing, it's tempting to shrink back from the career that once seemed a reasonable choice, filling time with distractions: streaming movies, scrolling social media, starting new hobbies. We turn to distractions because we have inner conflict: we experience a certain lack of meaning, and yet something inside each of us, a mysterious calling, tugs at us to do something significant with our lives. Psychologist Jim Hollis calls it a “heroic summons,” a definite but subtle call that emerges from a mysterious realm. Your Calling Is Like the Faint Tracks of a Wild BeastWildlife activist and author Boyd Varty compares it to tracking a wild beast in the wilderness of Africa. The tracker finds a slight hint of a track, and then finds a bit more, then loses the track, but doggedly staying after it, finds it again. Attuning to the track "comes from within you as your attention goes there, and as you follow that trail without distraction."It isn't a single event. You don't sit at your desk, think it through, and figure it out. It's up to you to take an action in response to any of these questions you ask yourself, and to evaluate the results, repeatedly, over time.Finding Your Calling Requires a Cycle of ReflectionPaying attention, a seemingly trivial phrase, is a component of a feedback loop:Notice what events in the outside world stir your insides. Those faint tracks from the animal tracking metaphor.Take iterative actions (steps) in support of what you notice. In the metaphor of tracking, moving in the direction of the animal whose clues you’ve identified.Assess the impact – notice how your actions resonated with your intentions, what worked well, and what didn’t. This takes you back to step 1, where you repeat this process in a continuous cycle.The process of paying attention leads to great moments of clarity, experiences you know you were born for. But along the way It also results in false starts, confusion, and emotionally uncomfortable experiences. The process – pay attention, and take iterative steps – is maddening because of how challenging it is to actually achieve it.This is why Hollis, the psychologist, calls it a heroic summons. What makes the summons heroic is the sheer discomfort you must experience compared to a seemingly painless alternative: sitting with the soothing pleasantries of modern life. Trading a life of ease for one of discomfort is not obvious or common.But answering the call gives life its purpose. This Planning Guide Will Help You Track Down Your Calling

One way to start: take 30 minutes to an hour to identify what you notice about your own life in the recent past with my planning guide. In an hour or less you can identify areas of your life that summon you to make a difference.




I help leaders and teams achieve clarity and alignment so they can reach their potential


Sign up for my newsletter and I will send you a Life Review and Planning Guide to help you create a better future.

© King Strategic Consulting, LLC 2023