You manifested your vision, and now you’re living your deepest calling. Or, at least, that’s what you tell yourself. But you don’t sleep well. Your body feels sluggish and unsteady. Your appetite is nearly non-existent, as are your self-care routines. Worst of all, the intense workload is creating physical or attentive distance between you and the people and activities you love.
Still, the thought of leaving is inconceivable. After all, this was your vision; how could it have led you astray? And how could there possibly be a greater calling for you than this?
This scenario played out in my life years ago, when I followed a vision to open up a yoga studio. It is only now, having left that world to become an author and freelance writer, can I see how my vision prevented me from discovering my true calling for far too long.
Heeding a Calling
“There is no greater gift to give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” – Oprah
You’ve got a great vision for yourself. You picture yourself doing this far into the future. But is it a vision that is in support of your greater calling? Or is it merely a shiny ball, keeping you distracted and too busy to fulfill something richer? Here are four questions to ask yourself to find out:
1. Where did the vision originate?
A true calling is often so unusual and unique, it will make your ego—which is more comfortable with conformity and mix-and-match creations— quake in its boots. True callings originate far beyond an ego’s temporary hungers for validity and approval. If the vision originated to soothe your ego’s lack of confidence or as a way to gain desired acceptance, it’s likely not a true calling but a temporary vision. On the other hand, if your vision scares you (and your ego), it might well be the real deal.
2. Who is the vision trying to please?
A vision can be born out of other people’s opinions and expectations for us without us actually knowing it. For example, you envision yourself becoming a doctor because your parents were doctors. You plan to go into theater or sports because that’s what the people around you enjoy. You might be a natural at something, even if it would be better as a hobby.
A calling, on the other hand, is pure and untouchable. It doesn’t try to please anyone but merely seeks expression. And that’s okay, because when you find your calling, it won’t matter to you what anyone thinks. One hint: A powerful calling is often more in line with what society needs rather than what it wants.
3. How far can you trace the vision back?
Our calling is an innate part of us; it was born when we were. But, as we grow older and get inundated with societal influences, our early loves and passions can get buried or silenced.
Then, moving through life, we might become infatuated with some new thing, and immediately determine that that’s our vision for the future. But like many doomed love affairs, an infatuation often cools and interest wanes.
Not so with a calling. You’ll know something is a true calling if it never goes away, no matter what we might cover it up with temporarily. Try thinking back to what you loved most as a child. Were you a natural peacemaker? Did you love organizational or strategic games? Did you take diligent notes? Your childhood loves and innate talents can give you a clue as to what your true calling is.
4. What kind of payment/sacrifice is your vision asking for?
Both a temporary vision and a deeper calling will demand certain sacrifices from us to bring them to fruition. But what, exactly, are they demanding? Are they demanding you walk away from people and activities you love? Are they overshadowing your needs for leisure, travel, or other personal desires? If your vision forces you to choose between the other activities and people you love, it might not be a true calling.
True callings magically and seamlessly weave all the parts of ourselves together into a cohesive sense of rightness. Keep in mind this simple wisdom: Temporary visions can swallow us whole. True callings make us whole.
Finding your calling can provide a sense of wholeness and rightness that breathes life into the deepest, truest voice within you. When in the throws of following a vision, it can be easy to assume you’ve found your calling. But even the most potent vision is not necessarily a reflection of our calling. So, look closely at where your vision originated, who it is pleasing, how far you can trace it back, and what kind of payment it is demanding. Then and only then can you gain the clarity you need and, if necessary, ditch your vision to make space for your calling.