There are plenty of aptitude tests and quizzes that are supposed to tell you what you should do with your life. From an early age, plenty of pressure is put on us to decide what we want to be when we grow up. Some people, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, know exactly what their life’s calling is. For most, though, it isn’t as easy. To contradict myself, maybe it is easier than we think, but it isn’t something that we are taught in our lives and few actually learn the trick to finding their perfect career.
A Personal Example
I’ll start with my own story as an example of how things are going to play out throughout life. I started off like any kid of my generation. I loved movies, video games and music and I just wanted to do something that kept me close to those. Upon graduating high school I went to an Art Institute for video production and did quite well. Where I excelled though was in script writing. My teacher spent extra time with me, trying to get me to switch majors. However, I hated writing and refused.
Jump forward a few years to me working at a video game retail store. I enjoyed working with people and retail was the best way for me to do that, and be surrounded by games and movies and all the things I loved. I was good enough at the job, but something was always missing. Then my child was born. My wife and I decided that I would stay at home with the kid for a year or two, then go back to work when the cost of child care was cheaper (yes we were very fortunate we could do that, not many can these days). I started to notice that going from two incomes to one income became a burden. Not to the point that we lived off ramen noodles, but enough that we didn’t have the money to go buy fancy electronics and take trips.
You probably guessed what happened next. I started to explore the world of writing and found that, much to my dismay, my scriptwriting teacher from so many years ago (a decade at this point) was right. Writing was what I enjoyed, and I made an okay living at it. It was better than no income at all. I still planned to go back to work in a traditional office, but work kept coming my way. I started to tell people I wouldn’t be writing much longer but the offers didn’t stop. Today, I write for a living and I feel like I wasted 10 years by waiting this long to do it.
Don’t Wait For Your Own Calling
So what does that mean to you? My personal story probably doesn’t matter to you, but like any good novel, foreshadowing gave a good clue to the ending. I was resistant to opportunities. I refused to do what I was naturally talented at (though I know I will never be as good as I think I am) and instead focused on what I decided to do early in life.
Mr. Tyson learned early on what he loved and he stuck with it. He made a career out of it because he had a real passion for it. It doesn’t hurt that he has the personality to make him endearing to so many, and the love of teaching which brings science into households at a level anyone can understand. What he figured out is that you can’t simply decide what you want to do; you need to listen to what you are being called to do for a living.
If you read about Mr. Tyson you will learn that at an early age he saw the stars outside of the city and knew then that he wanted to study them for life. I’m not sure that there is anything about what he wanted to be before that moment out there, but what if he had decided that he enjoyed construction work so much that he was going to be an architect instead? He may have been blind or deaf to his true calling.
It Won’t Be Easy, But You Will Hear The Call If You Want
For you, it is time to decide what it is that has always been calling you. For just a moment, take money, location and probability out of the equation and simply think about what it is that you always felt you should do. Income is often the biggest enemy to making the choice at which you will be most successful. Look at social work as an example. If those individuals decided that they wanted to be hedge fund managers instead of helping people (something they truly love in most cases) simply based on the expected income, they would likely be much less happy in their lives.
Marc Anthony famously said “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” and that couldn’t me more true. Even more importantly, if you do what you love and focus less on the potential income, you will suddenly find that you are happier, more ready for work and a much harder worker. This will lead you to promotions, higher income, more benefits and a better style of living. I am not saying that finding your calling is easy, but if you sit down and think about it, and I mean really think, you may just have that moment where everything makes sense. People that are happy at work, work harder. People that work harder, produce better work. Better work leads to more income, better reviews and a much more successful career.
So, what do you think? Have you heard a calling in your life?
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