This person obviously is ready for a big change in his or her life, but there is no bigger goal to get there. No goal means no direction or starting point. Hence the hours spent “spinning wheels.”
When I responded to this post, I also shared a little secret: that I have spent countless hours thinking about my overall calling, profession, and purpose (I think all 3 terms can be interchangeable), – and I cannot seem to narrow down what exactly my higher purpose is. Maybe a running coach, a business mentor, a mom, a nurse, a runner– I am really not sure and I actually don’t think it really matters, because I feel fulfilled playing many different roles and I am ok with that. So if you are feeling lost in your career or your fitness goals, feel free to keep scrolling down.
Lost is also the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, so I am pretty excited to share why I disagree with having all your ducks in a line and all your long term goals figured out ahead of time. Sure there takes some degree of planning out your weeks, months, quarters, and years to be successful, but as an entrepreneur, I also needed to learn real quick how to cope and adapt to change and uncertainty.
If you know your life’s calling with a deep conviction, good for you. But for the rest of us who are feeling a little lost, I’m not sure it really matters whether or not you have your entire life planned out. I’d rather enjoy that uncertainty and have broader experiences than jump on the next big trend and miss opportunities. But let’s dive a little deeper at why people say knowing your overall calling is essential, and I’ll share why I disagree:
Reason One: No Life Purpose = No Motivation
Given the forms submission I shared earlier, this one seems to make sense. People with clear mission statements seem highly motivated. However, many take all “all or nothing approach” in assuming you need to know your end destination to motivate yourself. I have no idea where I’m going to end up long-term, who I’m going to be, and the projects I’m going to work on in five years. I’s okay with that and I’m still motivated to work on the smaller projects that will improve my interpersonal skills and move my business forward. In some ways, small steps can be more motivating, because you see the results now instead of in decades.
Reason Two: A Mission Keeps You Organized
The logic goes that without a mission in life, you’ll be unfocused and get off track with your vision for your future. Having a focus in life is important, but I don’t think you need to spend all your time, money, and effort on solely developing a mission statement for your business.
As you improve in your trade, you’ll have a greater impact with that skill in money, reputation, and passion. As your skill increases, it becomes more and more crucial to put effort into improving that skill, relative to other pursuits. This creates a feedback cycle which pretty much focuses your life down to a particular set of skills which are your strong suit and produce the biggest impact.
That positive feedback cycle of skill and reward is natural, and may eventually lead to you “discovering” your life purpose. The problem is you can’t predict exactly where that cycle will go in advance. Trying to predict your calling in life in advance may derail the more natural process of building that calling. Having a focus in the short term (say a project, starting a blog or practicing a skill) is good. It’s good to be incredibly passionate about that pursuit. But while focus is essential in the short term, I think it’s equally important to be open to change in the long term, so you can see where the process takes you.
Reason Three: Knowing Your Mission Helps You Persist in Doubt
If you knew with 100% certainty you were meant to be a lawyer, you might not give up after failing your LSAT’s multiple times. Life is full of moments of doubt, and without some kind of consistency, it’s easy to give up. I agree that consistency is important. Feeling deflated about a failed project or rejection can feel awful, and the initial instinct is to cut our losses and avoid the pain. Even when we know that will only make things worse.
But narrowing down to a specific calling can be just as tough as not having that consistency at all. Perhaps you really aren’t cut out to be a lawyer, even though you would be great at sales and networking. Having too much conviction in one profession may force you to persevere, but it also cuts off any other options—including those that might be better for you.
Instead, I’d rather settle on a more general calling of helping people. It’s not very specific, but the general aim of helping others makes me happy.
Just because I don’t know what kind of life I’ll lead in 5-10 years, doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference now. It’s easy to obsess over the big picture and forget all the little victories along the way. As a parent, it’s also important to not lose sight of the little lives I am impacted with my actions every single day.
Even if you don’t know exactly how your life will turn out, you have to celebrate the little victories along the way. It’s those little victories that can add up to something bigger than you could have ever imagined when you first started. I never ever thought I would be a runner coach, nor help mentor other running coaches grow their businesses along the way, but I am so glad I “stumbled” upon it along the way!