This past weekend, I was in the mountains with a group of men. I had the opportunity to talk with, let’s call him, Mike, 24, who despite having recently completed his studies and has a good, steady job with a global firm – is deeply unhappy. Mike unabashedly informed me that he has no idea who he is nor what he should do with his life. Mike is not alone: so many people don’t know themselves enough and do not have a systematic plan for coming up with the answers. On the other hand, if it were as simple as that, more people wouldn’t be in the predicament that Mike is in.
As we talked, I found out a lot about Mike in just thirty minutes. Mike unsurprisingly doesn’t like his job – it doesn’t fit his deep interests, his passions. He complained that 80 percent of the time, he is doing things that he is either not good at, or doing tasks in which he has no interest. He told me that he chose his major at university, because it “sounded good”. Mike complains that his work colleagues cut corners, lie to each other and clients constantly – and worse, that he is beginning to as well. Finally, Mike grew up in a farming family. He is used to driving tractors, milking cows, harvesting apples in the Fall. He is used to the outdoors and his current job requires him to sit at a desk all day.
Mike’s final statement to me was telling: “I’m 24 and I feel dead. Is this it?” You might be smiling and thinking, what’s with this guy? I was thinking: why are there so many Mikes out there?
Well, Mike, you’re not dying, I told him. But it to find your true vocation, your calling, requires sweat, work and possibly tears along the way. I told him that I would be wiling to walk him through a process that, although seemingly quite general and harmless, just might change his life, but only if he really is ready to invest in himself.
Finding your calling involves knowing yourself. Deeply knowing yourself. Knowing what you can – and cannot do. Knowing what drives you – your passion. Knowing what you stand for – understanding your cultural heritage and moral convictions – what you will and will not do. And it involves knowing your needs. Your calling is the sweet spot where all of these major factors meet.
The tools are simple, like a surgeon’s knife. But used properly, they cut to help. Help find what makes your heart and soul tick, what your head was meant to do, and what your hands should be busy with all day. And then, when you have begun to better understand yourself, your passions, talent, conscience and needs, have the courage to change.
Be brave in finding and following your true calling!