"To do what you love and feel that it matters; how could anything be more fun?" - Katherine Graham of the Washington Post Know what could be more fun? To do work you love, feel that it matters, do it with people you enjoy and respect ... and get paid for it.
Are you thinking, "I'd love to do that, I just don't know how to do that."
Well, here are some ways to make that happen. First, a story about our "calling" - and then I'll share some questions that can help you create yours - because we don't find our calling, we forge and facilitate it.
My sons grew up on Maui. Ever night we'd go for a “walk and roll” through our neighborhood. I would walk and Tom and Andrew would ride their big wheels, bikes or skateboards. One night, when Tom was about eight, we stopped to pick some plumerias off a tree and I asked him, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Tom paused and then pointed to the sky and said, “Something to do with up there.”
Guess what? Tom got a degree in Aerospace Engineering, Astronomy, Physics and Math from Virginia Tech (go Hokies) and landed his dream job at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he and his team are responsible for the environment on the ISS - International Space Station. It gets better. He met and married his future wife (who has the world's coolest job title - Astronaut Scheduler) in Mission Control.
It gives me chicken-skin (Hawaiian for goose bumps) every time I think about how Tom ended up doing exactly what he envisioned doing - when he was eight years old.
Are you thinking, "Well, good for Tom. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up!"
Join the club. One way to figure out what you're "called to do" - is to take a good look at what you do when you're not working. What do you do, by choice, in your free time? What’s FUN for you? What do you look forward to and do because you want to?
Noticing what we do when we're not working can reveal our real work - the career that is calling us. That is what happened to a colleague and client, Dana Wright.
Dana always used to “noodle and doodle.” Instead of listening to her teachers, she would be filing in the margins of her workbooks and textbooks with what she was seeing in her mind’s eye. Even as an adult, she always had a pen in her hand and was sketching or drawing. It was what she did naturally.
Guess how Dana now earns her living – a good living in every sense of the word? She’s a graphic facilitator. She is the person you see at conferences and strategic retreats, listening to and facilitating the discussion while simultaneously drawing a colorful word-map/mural of what’s being said. She literally and figuratively gets everyone on the same page with her meeting art that illustrates verbals with visuals.
Dana turned her joy into her job. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could turn your joy into your job? You can. The good news is, it's not too late.
Your career calling is where meaning and money converge. You can start clarifying what that might be by answering these questions:
1 What intrigues me? What do I do that puts the light on in my eyes, fills me with joy?
2. What did I love to do growing up and wanted to do as a career but was told I "needed to get my head out of the clouds" and pursue something more practical?
3. What skills am I good at that make me feel good? (Please note: these don't have to be typical professional skills - they can be riding horses, playing the piano, gardening, etc.)
4. Who in business do I admire? I look at their career and think, "I wish I could do what they're doing."
5. Where can I provide a shortcut? Where can I expedite people's success, health or happiness? How can I save them time and money or make them time and money?
6. What don't people know how to do - that I know how to do? What aren't they good at - that I'm good at? What don't people want to do - that I actually enjoy doing?
7. What do I find meaningful, purposeful? In an ideal world, how would I like to leave a lasting legacy and make an enduring difference by contributing what I find fulfilling?
After answering these questions and clarifying what calls you, follow Pablo Picasso's advice, "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
Actually, if you want to make your joy your job, it's important to get paid for your gifts instead of giving them away for free. One way to do that is to get paid to teach what you're good at to others or to to do it for others. Turn your calling into a career by creating a quality course, product, service or business that's wrapped around your gifts.
If you do, you’ll never have to “work” another day in your life because you'll be in that sublime state of SerenDestiny where the light is on in your eyes and you’re earning a good living doing what you love most and do best.
And by the way, it's not too late to "answer your calling." You can do this at any age or stage, and you don't have to quit your current job. You can do this part-time as a "side hustle."
P.S. If you want specific ways to do that, you might want to check out my IDEApreneur book. which provides a step-by-step process for monetizing what you do well by turning it into a program, process or product people will gladly pay for.