This is part three of Embrace the Rain - A Compendium for Life. For the preamble to this work please see the full length article. In this part of the series we're going to discuss "The Calling" or what I've learned in the search for fulfillment through vocation, entrepreneurship, etc.
What's challenging you in your life?
Understand your current situation. Soldiers don't plan without knowing what the battlefield conditions are and neither should you. Take a whole day and take a good inventory of what's positive in your life as well as negative.
What are you most grateful for? Focus on that intently through any process. We all go through quite a bit of adversity, hardship, or struggle. It's important to stay grounded in what we have accomplished and what we are grateful for. This will help you get through these difficult times.
What things do you need to let go of? What negative aspects of your life are holding you back? What bad habits do you need to be aware of so you don't impede your progress? How do you avoid these bad habits? What other activities lead to these acting on these bad habits that you can avoid as well?
What is your mission? In your moments of introspection you must identify what matters to you and develop your mission statement. A personal mission statement provides clarity and gives you a sense of purpose. It defines who you are and how you want to live life. If you have that compass and become mission-driven, things become interesting.
What is your definition of success? Everyone wants to be a millionaire. Few want to put in the effort it takes to educate themselves on the process to get there much less actually the hours to achieve that goal. If being a millionaire were easy, there wouldn't be millionaires. You have to define what success means to you. None of this definition should be based on other's perception of success or concerning yourself with it.
Forging the path to fulfillment.
Be methodical. Design your life. Yes you can indeed intentionally design your life. Fundamentally, this involves basic math. You must map your hours and actually have a schedule that you submit to. I have my own scheme that provides me both flexibility and certainty in my day. This will be a write-up soon, but look at what's out there for now. Because there is plenty of noise on the web around the topic and a whole cottage industry around productivity.
Grasp the flow state and document how you got there. Flow (or being in the zone) is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of engagement enjoyment in the task at hand. If you learn to be mindful in the moment, you can understand how you get into the zone much easier. Again, look into mindfulness.
Get enough sleep and wake up on time. The first decision of the day needs to be persistently getting up on time. This is how you can tell yourself you're bigger than any excuse you have to stay in bed. Then you can understand you're bigger than any obstacle.
Make your bed. This is an old military saying. This is the first thing you face when you awaken and if you get it done, at least that's one thing on the list off. The thought process is to give yourself momentum in the morning. You have to feel productive at times to be productive.
Understand what motivates you. Understanding what circumstances drive you can help you trigger yourself to being motivated. It again all goes to knowing yourself.
Your pursuit of purpose.
Find your passion. Don't make it a career...necessarily. I'm going to get a lot heat over this but the saying "If you do what you love you'll never work a day in your life", is bullshit and irresponsible advice. Your first responsibility is meeting your obligations and responsibilities first. If you want to have your own business work on that on your own time. If you're passionate about something it may not be a good vocation. You may not be able to sustain yourself financially or you may start hating what you do if you do it for a living. I've known people to experience both.
The perfect career is about finding balance. You should find something that can give you purpose and sustain you financially. If you want to do what you love, that's perfectly fine. Just remember that your life may not be exactly as you envision it. It's you're life though. Do it your way.
You may find your purpose later in life. Don't stress over finding what you love. Sometimes it comes much later in life. This is why it's important to taste everything, try everything, and experience life. To sum this point up, here are a few people who found their calling and success later in life.
- At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.
- At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
- At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.
- At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.
- At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
- At age 28, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.
- At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
- At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.
- At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.
- Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.
- Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.
- Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.
- Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting at age 42.
- Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first movie role until he was 46.
- Morgan Freeman landed his first MAJOR movie role at age 52.
- Kathryn Bigelow only reached international success when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.
- Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.
- Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.
While life will have mild storms and at times hurricanes, I hope that this has helped you steer the currents and stay on true north. Always remember that no matter what happens, this is your life. You will make the best of it so long as you chart your course well, maintain the ship, stay vigilant, and explore on the journey.