Dear D: How do I find my calling?

Dear D,

I did all the right things to get up and out of my small town – worked hard, went to an amazing college, paid my own way, graduated with honors, got into Teach for America (a prestigious program), and now I don’t know what my calling is. How do I find it? How do I balance the things that I need (i.e., decent income) with the things that make my heart sing?



Hi J!

Thank you for writing in.

What a good woman you are! Congrats on your diligence, chutzpah + commitment to your education + finances. Doesn’t it totally suck though when you do all that + STILL are not sure what your calling is?!  I’ve been there and so, by the way,  has 90% of the population – it’s really normal to reach a juncture in life where you find yourself at the precipice of what was + what can be.

Sounds like you’re ready for more.
For different.

You know you want to obliterate some boundaries.
But you’re not sure what exists on the other side of them.

So let’s chat about “your calling.”

I’m asking you to take twenty or thirty minutes to deconstruct
those rusty, rigid boundaries and s-t-r-e-t-c-h your sense of

Be impractical—for now. Carve some mental space
for free-flowing ideas and long-forgotten truths.

First, let’s set the scene. Turn off the TV, shut down the
computer, and (gasp!) turn off the ringer on your iPhone or
Blackberry. Hide that sucker under a pillow, if you need to.
You could even dim the lights, light a scented candle, and pop
your feet up on the couch. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here.

1. What would you like to stop doing?  (make it work-task, work week related)

2. What would you like to do more of?

3. What are you doing when you feel powerful, confident, inspired, useful + free?

4. What are people constantly complimenting you on?

5.What do people come to you for or say about you most often?

6. What hobbies are you currently engaged in or want to be engaged in that gets you all giddy inside? Like, if someone said you could do that hobby for the rest of your life you would be willing to do it for free.

Hopefully these questions will help you to begin to excavate what your calling is.

Invest in what comes most naturally to you.
Just because you’re “good at it” doesn’t mean you have to do it.
You only have to do those things that light your heart on fire.

There is a HUGE difference between having to work hard vs. wanting to work hard.
What do you WANT to work hard at?
What comes so naturally to you that it is feels effortless to work at?

On balance:
Generally, this is how I feel about life balance.

Read that first then come back to this post.

the reality check is that few people can make one gigantic leap from their current self-limiting situation into a dream career. It’s not impossible, of course but the truth is, it will most likely require several methodical baby steps. Add in a sprinkle of patience, faith + fortitude and you’ve got yourself an alternative reality.

You may have to begin folding into your “dream” work one limb at a time while you continue to earn
money for rent. Maybe it starts off with a lecture on the topic, then a weekend workshop, maybe a Tuesday night class twice a month, maybe then an internship, an entry level position and so on and so on.

I will use myself as an example.

I was working a high paying day job. The money was great but spiritually I felt suffocated and dissatisfied.  I wanted to do “more.”  I felt I had a calling to “make a difference” somehow.

After soul searching, I decided to go back to graduate school + earn my Phd in psychology. I left my high paying job for an average paying job because it allowed me the freedom to go to school at night and on the weekends.

One year into school I began coaching. Two and a half years into school + as my coaching practice picked up I cut my work schedule to 3 days a week. I graduate this December with my Ph.D + STILL work at a day job 2 days a week!

Every day I commit to doing a little less of what I don’t want to do + a little more of what I do want to do.
That’s it.

Be open to a transition period.
I’m all for pursuing your passion project but understand as well that rent needs to get paid.
I’m here to remind you it doesn’t have to be one OR the other.

You can do what you’re passionate about + get paid for it.
Practice understanding + being willing to transition.
Be gentle.  Be patient but remain focused + dedicated to your higher calling.



Need Soul-Exfoliating?
Want more, better, different?
I’ve got answers.  Work With Me.
You won’t regret it.


© 2012 Danielle Dowling

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