Finding Your Calling in a Tough Economy
While I was waist-deep in writing my book on finding your calling, the economy crashed. Unlike so many news stories, there has been nothing distant and impersonal about this one. The impact is everywhere. People of all ages have been affected by everything from pay cuts to a crippled housing market, a broken health insurance system, high debts, and unemployment. I even watched a New York Times video recently that stated that the unemployment rate for college graduates under twenty-seven is the highest itâ€™s ever been reported.
I began to wonder: In a time full of ground level crises, is finding your calling too lofty a goal? I flipped this question upside down and inside out. And I concluded that the answer is no. The greater the challenges in the world, the more urgently our gifts are needed. There is so much to be done on every level, and we each play a valuable part.
Even if youâ€™ve fallen on tough financial times, here are five cost-free tips for finding and following your calling:
1. First, remember that your calling begins with who you are. Your work can be an extension of your calling, but your contribution as a human being is bigger than your job status or paycheck. Acknowledge how you express your calling each day simply by being yourself. What qualities are so natural that you take them for granted? How do you effortlessly share your talents with the world? What compliments do you repeatedly receive? Relax into the calling that already shines through you, and build on this foundation.
2. Blend your natural abilities with the areas in which your community needs help. If youâ€™re struggling, a lot of people around you probably are, too. Step outside of yourself to make your time meaningful. Look around to see where you could help advance a worthy cause or ease someone elseâ€™s burden. Then offer a smile, a listening ear, or an afternoon. No contribution is too small.
3. Use your own mini-earthquakes for personal transformation. For example, Iâ€™ve known people whoâ€”after losing their jobsâ€”used some of the extra time to journal, exercise, reflect on their lives, and explore new personal and professional interests. Crises can push us to look closely at our lives, evaluate whatâ€™s working and whatâ€™s not, and then make important changes. To whatever degree you are able, transform difficult times into positive growth.
4. Carve out a bit of time every day to listen to your inner voice. You could do this while cooking, walking, showering, or lying in bed before falling asleep. What are you really longing for? What kind of person do you want to be? How well do your day-to-day activities match up with the stirrings in your heart? Allow the images to rise and fall in your mind, uncensored.
5. Act on the messages of your inner voice. These actions can be very simple. For example, even if you don’t have your dream job, you can continue networking and skill-building in the field you are drawn to. You could e-mail someone who works in that field, ask a friend to teach you a related skill, or look into volunteer opportunities. Go with the flow of your inner guidance, even when it means stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Regardless of your financial or job situation, you have talents that are unique, valuable, and very much needed in this world. These talents are part of who you are, and there are infinite ways to express them. When external forces are unstable, itâ€™s more important than ever to be creative and flexible as you move toward your goals. Let life surprise you. A calling is a partnership: It calls you toward it, and you only need to meet it halfway.