What I was looking for found me – I believe I found my calling in life, and it brings me immense joy.
I’d like to ask you a personal question…..What is your calling in life?
If you don’t know yet, how will you find out?
A job is how you make money. A career is how you make your mark. A calling is how you acknowledge a higher vision, whatever it may be.
Your calling, the thing you were meant to do, is Dharma, a word that means much more than finding a job you love. Your Dharma is the work that will be supported by your surroundings and circumstances, your relationships and your innate gifts.
My calling in life was not easy and my career path circuitous. I often felt great anxiety about it and constantly performance-managed myself.
I’d had difficult managers, faced redundancy whilst in my private life lost the love of my life. On the plus side, I’d been awarded scholarships to study overseas plus worked for international organisations with inspiring people which afforded me enormous exposure both in my career and in my personal development when engaging with different cultures. In addition, I’ve pursued fascinating interests and hobbies and have a wonderful support network. On reflection, these moments are important parts of the tapestry of my life. Each thread that felt out of place at the time now provides structure to the pattern of living my life.
Finding my calling in life involved the same process as discovering my (spiritual) gifts. Through sorrow and grief on one hand plus gratitude with a passion for living on the other hand – I found my gift – to help others to live a meaningful life – whether they are facing grief, trauma and loss; aspire to be an effective leader /manager or in everyday life to identify their talents and address problems from multiple angles.
Part of my journey included uncovering “Who am I?” and knowing my authentic self. One concept that I’ve embraced is ‘Atman’ which means ‘eternal self’. The atman refers to the real self beyond ego or false self. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ and indicates our true self or essence which underlies our existence. I learned to know my authentic self.
Similarly, I work with my clients to uncover:
· insights into life’s lessons and unresolved shadows — what to heal.
· a sense of one’s life’s purpose, soul essence and personality skills — what to express and aspire to.
· more awareness of how personality and soul interact — how your life unfolds.
· insights into the next best growth step — where you are going.
· a new perspective on your life journey
So, if you’re feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless, can’t find your passion, feel directionless and not clear on what your purpose in life is – you’re not alone. Many adults have struggled with this and, even after a lifetime in their career as a teacher, shop owner, engineer, lawyer, stay-at-home partner or whatever, they ask: “What is my purpose/ calling in life?” “What am I passionate about?” Clients in their 40s and 50s often feel they’ve spent so many years in an office facing the reality of life in paying bills yet still have no clue what their life’s purpose is.
One approach I find resonates well with the clients I coach is for them to understand ‘their bubble’ – the bubble they live in and the life outside it.
This personal bubble is the small world you live in where you are the center of your universe. You are concerned with your wellbeing, wanting to succeed in life, be a good person and not wanting to look bad or fail.
This is the bubble we all live in most of the time (those people who say they don’t are not being authentic to themselves).In our bubble, we are concerned with our safety, security, pleasure and comfort. For example, it may be that in trying not to be uncomfortable we may not exercise or not always eat healthily. When we fear failure we may avoid change and new challenges and maybe avoid meeting new people. We want people to give us what we want and when they don’t we may get frustrated and angry. Many of our problems can be caused by our bubble and the limitations it places on us.
I work with my clients to understand their personal bubble and to get outside it, that is, to see things from a less self-centered approach and begin to have a wider view. Everything changes, from letting go of fear and anger and procrastination, to changing habits in order to live in a way that matters. There is more to living a meaningful life than being inhibited by fears and concerns or driven by pleasures and gratification. We start a journey where we see the needs of others; where we learn new skills and competencies; where we go about our daily tasks with a greater sense of purpose knowing that what matters is becoming more relevant and bigger than ourselves.
I love this quote by Yamashita: “You have to get beyond that image you’ve made for yourself that you so strongly defend … to get at what is actually true”.
Also,“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
To really do yourself justice — you have to peel away the layers of your self-conception and find your authentic self.
How do you know when you are stuck in your bubble?
Next time when you are frustrated, angry, fearful, anxious, procrastinating or feeling hurt – pause and reflect – become aware you’re in your bubble. These are signs that everything is relating to you and your feelings. If it is your momentary pleasure that matters then you’re in the bubble.
In my practice as a coach, some clients would talk incessantly about being stuck because of what their dysfunctional nuclear families did to them. “My mother/ father did this or that…”; or they languor as victims of their circumstances. In these instances they choose to stay in their bubble. Our past, along with its inevitable issues and problems, contribute to who we are – we cannot allow ourselves to be victims.
Outside the bubble these fears and emotions become less significant and can be let go of. I work with clients to feel what others are feeling or simply pay attention and listen; to get out of their mind and connect with their body and soul; see if they can make people’s lives better — create something to make them smile.
You could define your purpose as being in the right place with the people who matter to you, doing your life’s work.
To define your personal purpose, start with these questions:
– How will the world be better off, thanks to you having been on this earth?
– What are your unique gifts and powers?
– Who have you been when you’ve been at your best?
– Who must you fearlessly become?
– What does your purpose reveal about what you should stop doing?
Steps to take to begin taking responsibility for your life:
- Decide you are going to take on a new way of thinking and step outside your bubble. It is a different mind-set.
- Make the conscious decision that it’s up to you and adopt the attitude, “change begins with me.”
- Pick one thing to start with where you’re going to respond differently – it could be a colleague at work who says something to irritate you, decide you’re going to have a different response. Instead of getting all worked up, take some deep breaths and relax.
- Put a visual Stop sign up in your mind when you feel yourself becoming defensive and ready to blame. You may want to put a Post-it note on your phone to remind you and catch you in the moment.
- Take an action step, however small or inconsequential it may seem, toward something you want to attain.
- Apologize for something sincerely without attaching any “and, ifs or buts” to it. Take responsibility for your action without disqualifying it.
- Empower yourself with an “I can do attitude” and “I will” statements. “I can give this feedback” “I will write this report.” Use positive energy which will also help you push through some fear. The internal Stop sign goes up with the “I can’t” or “I won’t” thereby cutting ourselves off.
- Read some great books on this — Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, Martha Beck and so on.
PRACTICE: Please do this self-awareness activity for 30 to 45 days.
Every 10 days please select another topic to focus on for your self-reflection:
- Opinions and habits that you defend as yours which may be ego or your false self rather than your authentic self
- When you are feeling frustrated, angry, fearful, anxious, procrastinating or hurt by someone
- When you believe your view is correct and anyone who is doing otherwise is someone who is misinformed, stupid, weak or biased
Please stop twice each day—once in the middle and once again at the end—and reflect on the following questions which you may wish to journal:
During this period of time:
- When and how did I get caught up in my bubble?
- What was occurring cognitively, emotionally, somatically and relationally during this process?
- How taken in was I by the constraints and limitations I’ve placed on myself being stuck in my bubble?
- What can I do during the next period of time to have the courage to step outside my bubble and find my authentic self?
A reminder of the quote by Yamashita: “You have to get beyond that image you’ve made for yourself that you so strongly defend … to get at what is actually true”.
Step outside your comfort zone – out of your bubble and once empowered your are no longer a victim – you are able to find your purpose and live a meaningful life.