How to Get Unstuck and Find Your Calling

How to Get Unstuck and Find Your Calling May 30, 2024

calling
Peter Conlan via Unsplash

This is one of the 112 stories that appears in Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritual Curious.

How do you walk through life? Are you sure-footed with a specific destination in mind? Or are you stuck in place, unsure of your direction or which way to head?

Every now and then, you’ll hear about a friend or acquaintance who has “found their calling.” And when you hear those words spoken, it might cause you to wonder: Does everyone really have their own calling, even me? Spiritual philosopher David Spangler says yes! In his words: “We all possess a gift or talent that we are attracted to and enjoy doing … this gift ultimately connects us to others. This is our calling.”

Yet, while Spangler may make it sound easy, determining the precise “gift or talent” that connects you with others can be difficult. Here are just a few of the questions that might come up when looking for your life’s purpose:

  • How do I know which gift or talent is my calling?
  • How do I incorporate this gift or talent into my life?
  • What if following my calling makes my life more difficult?

There are no flashing road signs to alert us that we’re on the right path—or tell us when it’s time to make a mid-life course correction. We need to figure this out for ourselves and determine how we can build a life with meaning and purpose, one that makes the most of our own potential.

The five clues below don’t provide all the answers, but they may help you get closer to discovering your calling. They may also provide you with the motivation you need to put your calling into practice.

Clue #1. When looking for your path, the first place to search is within.

From Ram Dass to Jon Kabat-Zinn, many spiritual leaders believe the answers we all seek can be found within. So, what’s the secret to tapping into this internal source of knowledge? You can start by quieting your mind, through meditation or prayer, and once settled, contemplate what you were meant to do in this life. Spiritual author Carolyn Myss tells us that, with patience, “the path will reveal itself.”

There’s another important component to finding the answers you seek: have faith that you will find them. You need to believe the answers are available to you or they will continue to remain a mystery. In The Spirit of Happiness, Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Life, the scholar T. Byram Karasu describes faith like this:

To believe—to have faith—in God means trusting there is a reason for the existence of everything in his world and beyond, and there is a meaning in its mystery. It means believing that there is a Holy Purpose for you.

Clue #2. You can seek help from a mentor or someone you admire.

If you don’t have a person to emulate or seek advice from in your own life, find a public figure you admire—then read all you can about him or her, including any available autobiographies. Doing this may help you intuit how these people might have seized opportunities similar to those occurring in your own life.

The inspirational blogger James Altucher, who has written a lot about mentorship, came to a similar conclusion. His takeaway: You don’t actually need a living, breathing mentor at your side to receive the expert guidance you need. According to Altucher:

Everyone wants a mentor. I picture some old guy saying, ‘Ha ha, here’s how we did it in my day. Here’s what you should do.’ and then he lays out the secret mystical formula for life fulfillment. It doesn’t work that way. Everything in life is your mentor. Think of everything you see or do as mentoring you.

Clue #3. Your path or purpose can emerge in one of many different ways.

In her book The Wisdom to Know the Difference, Eileen Flanagan tells us of an Episcopalian group of laypeople on a mission: to uncover the best way to find “God’s purpose for our lives.” To do this, they read through a ton of scripture and spiritual autobiographies. Their conclusion? Our purpose comes to us not in one way, but in one of many ways. Flanagan writes:

Our purpose can emerge through a gnawing feeling that we need to do a specific thing. On occasion, it can burst forth as a sudden awareness of a path that God would have us take. Our call may be emphatic and unmistakable, or it may be obscure and subtle. In whatever way our call is experienced, God has chosen to speak to us and bids us to listen.

Clue #4. Don’t let obstacles stop you, just keep moving forward.

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. writes that at some point in life we may be on the right path—and then the going gets tough. Our path may not move in a straight line and we may even find it littered with stones or boulders we have to climb over or around to get back on track. In Quatrone’s words:

The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit like the ‘Yellow Brick Road.’ It is a rocky path through the wilderness. It is not a linear road where we take one step after another in a straightforward progression. That is not what the road is like. Rather, it is a series of twists and turns, and there is nothing simple or straightforward about it.

Indeed, even the “Yellow Brick Road” was filed with danger and uncertainty. Yet once we get past the rough patches, we almost always come out stronger on the other side, learning character-building lessons along the way. The important thing is to keep your eye on your destination. Should you ever feel you have lost your way, pause for contemplation and renewed direction. And remember: Patience is key.

Clue #5. When you are on your true path, you’ll know it. (Life becomes easier.)

It is the toughest task you will ever face. But once you define your purpose, the meaning of your life will become clearer and all other tasks, no matter how difficult they may seem, will become easier. ~Bryan Karasu

The quote above points out that the sooner you’re able to uncover the gift or talent that connects you with others, the better. Once your purpose is uncovered, you get to practice getting better at it each day. You can work at being a better coach or mentor, a better veterinarian or volunteer, a better baker or painter, a better [insert your calling here].

When you’re on your true path, you’ll find that you’re not only helping to enrich the lives of others, but that this is the key to your own happiness as well. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing,

About Tom Rapsas
I’m Tom Rapsas, the writer of Wake Up Call, the blog, and author of Wake Up Call, the book. I’m what you might call a regular guy. For virtually all my adult life, I’ve worked a nine to five job in an office. But, like many of you, I’ve had a life-long interest in all things spiritual. This interest has led to decades of self-guided study on topics that run the gamut from God and religion to happiness, purpose, and character. I encapsulate what I’ve learned in my Wake Up Call columns and book. My goal is to write stories that genuinely stir the soul and that will help put you on a path to living a richer, more contented, and more meaningful life. The Author I’ve been writing the Wake Up Call column at Patheos since 2012. My latest book Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritual Curious was released January 2024, by Wildhouse Publications. I’m also the author of the spiritual fable Thaddeus Squirrel and the book Life Tweets which were self-published. I live at the Maryland Eastern Shore with my wife and a small herd of cats and can be reached at tomrapsas@gmail.com. You can read more about the author here.
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