Discovering your purpose or calling can be difficult, but finding resources that can help you shouldn’t be. Here are 10 of the best posts on the web that have honestly helped me on my journey towards calling, and I believe they will help you as well.
Favorite line: If the choice is between Netflix and hard work, there has to be a reason to choose the work.
Main idea: Everyone who is pursuing their purpose seriously has experienced an “inciting incident.” Something so extraordinary or painful or (rarely) good, that you had no other choice but to take yourself and your desires seriously.
The author of this article lists 9 commons moments most people encounter before they make a real change in their direction. I know personally, I’ve encountered about 4 of these. Reflecting on those times in my life, and remembering how my life has changed because of those moments, was truly inspiring. They reminded me that so often the place we fear to go is the place we need to go.
Title: How To Discern Your Calling
Favorite Line: They think they need to hear an audible voice from God or there is something mystical about it. I don’t think so.
Main Idea: I love the way Michael Hyatt breaks things down. He’s such a clear thinker, and he helps so many others gain clarity as well. In this article/podcast episode he provides 2 extremely useful frameworks. First, he describes calling as having four attributes:
- Optional (interesting word choice!)
Second, he places calling within three necessary components:
This framework has raised a lot of interesting questions (as well as some pushback). This is one resource you won’t want to skip.
Favorite Line: Take a deep breath and give yourself the grace and space to fail, without calling yourself a failure.
Main Idea: Paul Angone was one of the first people I stumbled upon online when I started to take my own calling more seriously. I watched as he set an example for other coming-of-age millennials to take the road less traveled. I trust his writing because he’s lived it. In this article, the 4 roadblocks he lists are:
- Lack of Intentionality
- Fear Crushing Your Confidence
- Not Understanding Your Why
- Lack of Community
I’m still a work in progress as far as these roadblocks are concerned. But I think that is also kind of the point. Just because a roadblock is in your way, doesn’t mean your journey is over. It’s part of your journey. As Ryan Holiday would say, the obstacle is the way. Don’t avoid the hard questions or uncomfortable situations, lean into them. That’s where the beauty is. That’s where the transformation lies.
Favorite Line: Thought is good, but purpose is the result of practice.
Main Idea: When I first stumbled upon this article, I was a little lost. Sport’s analogies aren’t exactly my thing. But as I kept reading I saw the absolute gold that was lying in wait. Clear’s main point is that purpose is quite literally a life-extender. People who wake up with a reason to live, keep waking up. Sometimes for decades longer than their peers.
This article has a handful of great research links, such as the American physician who wrote this book on being old in America and the WHO statistics which show the power of the Japanese ikigai philosophy. The article finally ends with a call to practice – which is the route by which (as the author believes) we discover our purpose. I love anything that pairs mastery with calling because I believe they are so inextricably linked.
Favorite Line: Discovery happens in stages and clarity will come with action.
Main Idea: How do I get from here (place of uncertainty, frustration, stuckness) to there (place of purpose, calling, success)? This is a question I found myself asking a lot, especially over the last few years. I just wanted to see the path. I wanted a guide, a fairy godmother, anything. I would have taken anyone’s advice so long as they could guarantee me that I was heading in the right direction.
But that’s where the problem was. Jeff Goins writes an excellent article on how to get the clarity you want, without actually having to wait for the clarity you want. The key is action. Taking the next step. Putting one foot in front of the other and allowing the road to unfold as it will. “purpose is more of a path than a plan.”
This post ends with 3 great insights (you’ll want to read how he expands upon these):
- You can’t do this on your own
- You’ll have to practice
- You won’t just know
Favorite Line: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is not true, but something even better is.
Main Idea: Fast-food never looks the way it does on television. Not once have I ever ordered a Big Mac and not had it look like a baby elephant rolled over it somewhere in between it being assembled and served to my drive-thru window.
A similar encounter happens when it comes to living out our purpose. There’s an idea we have in our minds of what it will look and feel like. A commercial we play in our minds; one that, whether we know it or not, has been influenced by movies, social media, and the random success story we stumble across. But real purpose, like everything else of value, requires real work. Long exhausting days, confusion, running into walls, and discovering that no – everyone doesn’t like what you’ve created or stand for.
It can be a lot. But for those of us who feel truly called, there is no other choice. We accept the work because the alternative is unthinkable.
Favorite Line: The only thing that limits possibility is imagination.
Main Idea: We must not be afraid to create our own definition of success. It’s something we hear a lot: don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20, stay in your lane, focus on what you really want. But its so hard not to want to measure our success and progress on some kind of standard like how much money are we making, how many people are we impacting, and so on.
The author of this talk challenges us to not fall into that trap. With example after example, Scott Dinsmore proves those who have had the biggest impact in this world, and who have lived the most satisfying lives, did so by defining their own idea of success and then unapologetically pursuing it.
This talk provides a number of useful tools such as how our unique strengths, experiences, and values work together to illuminate what we really want. Also, you can see the foundation of his 4-part framework:
- Become a self expert
- Do your impossible
- Surround yourself with a passionate community
- Do something that matters
Favorite Line: He believed that if he was patient enough, eventually God would reveal his true calling. I told him I don’t think God works like that.
Main Idea: Waiting sucks. Pretty much every human alive hates waiting. If you’re looking for a good business to start, just look for a way to cut down people’s wait times in some area (fast food, instant streaming, other).
Now, even though we hate waiting so much, sometimes we will use it as an excuse. “I’m waiting on God” or “I’m waiting for the right time.” What’s strong enough to make us change our feelings about waiting: fear.
Justin Zoradi cuts through the fog and lays it out beautifully. So many of us hold back from fulfilling our calling because we’re afraid. Afraid to risk, afraid to commit to an idea, afraid to get caught being our true selves. But that’s the only option, to confront the fear and abandon the wait. “God joins us only [after] we take that initial risk.”
Favorite Line: Don’t let what you want to do prevent what you’re meant to do.
Main Idea: As Jim Collins has said, “Good is the enemy of great.” Dale Partridge delivers an intimate look into how pursuing your purpose requires more than just seizing every opportunity that crosses your path.
I know I have fallen into the habit and saying yes too quickly and too often. But so often, our calling does not lie on the other side of a hundred yeses. Rather, it requires a series of strategic nos.
Dale provides 3 truths that must fit the opportunity before we can say yes (and to help us say no).
- It should support our greater calling, not detract from it
- Just because it’s smart doesn’t mean its right (good vs. great)
- Good decisions don’t happen alone
Favorite Line: Finding your true vocation means finding work that utilizes your gifts in the 75-100% range.
Main Idea: I absolutely love how practical this article makes the idea of finding our calling. This one from Brett McKay is the 4th part of a 5 part series on vocation (aka the work you were meant to do). As you can see from my favorite line above, the author believes there’s a formula to finding our best fit. The reason some places might feel “almost right” is because, in some important ways, they might be. But until we get closer to that sweet spot, where the majority of our time and effort is spent on what we are particularly good at and want to do, we’ll always feel like something is off.
His formula is: True Vocation = Your Gifts + Your Passion.
By gifts, he means our “birthright gifts” which are talents or abilities which come naturally to us (whether we’ve discovered them yet or not). For passion, he uses the idea of an inner signal. We must rediscover our internal cues, and stop being driven by external cues.
I would recommend reading the entire 5 part series, but definitely start here.
That was my list of 10. So what about you? What resources have you found most helpful on your journey towards a life of purpose?