Jeff Goins takes us on a life-changing journey to discover what our calling might be.
by Julia Migné
“What should I do with my life?” This question might seem simple to some but for most out there, answering it is painfully difficult. Knowing what your true calling is and what you are meant to be doing with your life can be daunting. The idea that somehow some people just know from the start what their calling is whilst others might never find out is a widespread, disconcerting issue. What do you do when you’re part of the latter?
Jeff Goins, best-seller author and blogger, answers that question in depth in his book The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. First, he states that: “A calling is not some carefully crafted plan. It’s what’s left when the plans goes horribly wrong.” Finding what your purpose is will be a chaotic and painful experience but it is all about finding that thing that you just can’t NOT do.
Finding what you are meant to do is not something that will happen overnight; it takes time, effort, and preparation. Awareness, explains Jeff, is the first step towards it. Moving forward is the only way to change things. Failure is part of the process and is what will help people clarify their goals.
Once awakened, the apprenticeship can start. Often though, mentors and teachers won’t appear as such and being able to recognise them takes some practice. Taking the example of Ginny Phang, who became a doula in Singapore despite facing many obstacles, Jeff shows that it took several key persons for Ginny to find what her calling was.
“Every story of success is, in fact, a story of community,” says Jeff. It can be as simple as a phone call to encourage you at a moment you really needed it or a friend telling you he always imagined you’d end up as a writer for things to slowly fall into place.
However, in order to acknowledge potential mentors, it is essential to be open-minded and to be ready to take any kind of opportunity that might surface. Trust your life and listen to it to recognise them.
The third step of the process is practice; trying is not good enough anymore. Talent might look innate in some people but it is actually often the reflection of years of intense and deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice doesn’t bring comfort; it hurts, it stretches, and it makes people grow. The key is to keep going even when the initial thrill disappears – that’s what makes the difference between an activity you do for fun and a calling.
From there, it’s time to start acting and entering the stage of discovery. Jeff explains that discovering your calling is not an epiphany, but more of a series of decisions. There is no leap, only bridges that people slowly and intentionally built.
People don’t just know what their calling is, they leave what they know and head towards what they don’t. Being humble enough to hear the call is the first step but then it requires tenacity to actually respond to it and experience to begin believing in it.
“It will take a few tries before you get your calling right,” warns Jeff. “Failure isn’t what prevents us from success then. It’s what leads us there.” Using a couple of examples, Jeff shows that most people fail a number of times before finally heading to the right direction. Failing is an integral part of the learning process and is actually a good preparation for what is to come.
A calling is not a one-time event; it never stops and constantly evolves during life. Once you identified it and embraced it, you enter the mastery stage. This stage is all about combining skills to build a portfolio life. Mastery involves powering through even when nobody is supporting or believing in you. “True mastery is about greatness, about doing something that pushes the limitations of what others think is possible or even sensible.”
Finally, Jeff looks at what legacy might look like and explains that success was actually never about the person but was always about making a difference in the lives of others. Sometimes, the most important things are in the ordinary life and it’s essential to enjoy those small moments and not to get consumed by your calling.
Filled with colourful examples from across the globe, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do will inspire you to follow your calling whilst also giving you a clear step by step guide on how to tackle the sometimes tumultuous, oftentimes beautiful journey.