It is possible to find work you love, no matter how uncertain, stuck, or unhappy you currently feel, and no matter how long you’ve felt that way.
We all have unique passions, intentions, and abilities that allow us to impact the world in a way that nobody else can. If we find the sweet spot where all these come together, work becomes joyful, we experience greater ease, and we get to revel in the satisfaction that comes from knowing we’re having the impact we want to have in the world.
Following are the key principles for uncovering your sweet spot that I’ve discovered through finding my calling and helping dozens of clients do the same:
Get out of your head
We tend to try to solve all our problems in our heads, through reason and analysis and lists of pros and cons. The problem is, our minds can’t tell us everything we know about what we’re called to do.
Leading neuroscientist Antonio Demasio describes a famous case in which a man can no longer make decisions because a brain injury has rendered him unable to feel his emotions. Like those of us who try to figure everything out in our heads, after his injury he ping-ponged back and forth between possibilities, rationalizing first one option and then the next.
To get clear about what we really want, we need to start receiving the wisdom offered by our hearts and bodies. Our feelings and our guts have a lot to tell us about what we want, what is meaningful, and what will make us happy. (It’s not for nothing that we have neural net processors similar to those in our brains around our hearts and intestines as well.) Most of us don’t know how to decode this information, but we can learn.
Pull, don’t push
Frequently we’re taught to reach our goals by making a plan and then pushing ourselves hard to follow it. When faced with a desire for more meaningful work, however, this approach is like trying to repair a broken plate with a giant hammer. Forcing yourself to do what you think you should rather than what you feel you want is what likely got you into an unfulfilling line of work in the first place.
To find more energy, joy, and fulfillment in your work, you need to stop forcing effort and start letting yourself be pulled towards what calls you. You need to listen to what you want and need, give yourself permission to follow what feels good, and let yourself do more of what you love. You need to explore what energizes you, investigate what brings you joy, and experiment to find fulfillment. And as in any experiment, you need to risk being wrong and learn through trial and error.
If you can do this, your path suddenly becomes filled with energy, joy, and satisfaction. Even before you land your next gig.
Turn Fear From Enemy to Ally
Fear is nothing more than a sign that you’re bumping up against the edges of your comfort zone—a good sign, if you think about it, because it means you’re doing things differently, which is what’s required if you’re going to get different results. So instead of avoiding fear, you can learn to move towards it and investigate it, letting it show you what’s important to you and what you need to pay attention to. Then you can conduct mini-experiments to see how accurate its predictions are, and how you can move forward while taking care of what you care about.
Embrace Your PSP
Yea, I’m not referring to your ability to sense the paranormal, or your portable Playstation device. It’s your Passion, Strengths, and Purpose. Your calling is the center of a venn diagram of the things you love to do, the things you’re naturally good at, and the impact you want to have on the world. Getting clear on each of those, and embracing them, helps your calling crystallize.
We have this myth in our culture that we should do everything ourselves—as if that were even possible. The truth is, we all need support in lots of different ways, whether it’s the farmers who grow our food, the teachers who invest in our education, or the people who love us who give us energy and inspiration. I can’t think of one significant human accomplishment that occurred without the help of a motley crew.
When we’re having trouble reaching our goals, instead of getting mad at ourselves or lamenting our results, it’s more productive (not to mention kind) to ask what kind of support will help us get to where we’re wanting to go. Support can turn the overwhelming into the doable, the paralyzing into the invigorating, and the confusing into the clear. We all have weaknesses, and it can be quite liberating to embrace this fact and call in for reinforcements.
These principles are simple, but they’re by no means easy.
They require us to see into our blind spots, move out of our comfort zone, and adopt a new approach. They ask us to develop new habits and new skills. In short, they depend upon a new way of being.
I became a coach because it’s the best vehicle I’ve found for helping people develop new ways of being. I’ve seen dozens of people do things they never thought possible when they tap into the support, structure, accountability, and new awareness that coaching offers.
If you’d like to find out more about how coaching could help you overcome the challenges standing in your way, check out the 1:1 Coaching page or sign up for a free, exploratory session by clicking the button that says “free 60 minute session” at the top of this page.
Photo credit: Mike Nielsen//CC