“This is so pointless.”
I bet you’ve had that thought at least once this week.
Maybe when you were slogging away at some brain-liquefying task at work. Or when you had to drag yourself out of bed this morning. Perhaps as you dozed off on your evening train commute home.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you want to cry out, “Oh woe is me. I can’t carry on.”
I mean the quieter, niggling feeling. The energy-sapping sense that, “There’s more to life than this.”
I know the experience well.
I wanted desperately to find purposeful work. I was eager to pour all my energy into something meaningful. And, more than anything else, I didn’t want to feel like I was frittering away my time in endless drudgery. I was discovering that it’s not always easy to find your calling.
And I’m willing to guess that the reason you’re reading this post is because you feel the same. You want to find your purpose. To find your calling.
You want to shake that feeling of dissatisfaction.
You just don’t know where to look.
Well, I’ve got a straightforward, slightly silly technique that might hold the key to pinpointing your calling once and for all.
Why so serious?
Can you remember the last time you had fun?
I don’t mean the last time you watched a cool movie.
When’s the last time you really had fun? The kind of forget-yourself, belly-laugh fun that you had when you were a kid.
I’ll be it was a while ago, right? You might not even remember.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. As a society, we’re forgetting how to have fun. And it’s having some pretty serious ramifications.
But it has one particularly notable outcome in regards to vocation.
An overly-serious attitude blocks your ability to hone in on what’s joyful and meaningful. It kills your intuition and natural capacity for problem-solving.
If you’re going to find your purpose, you need to loosen up and have some fun.
Because letting go of all your tension opens up space for genuine insights to appear.
“But how?” you might cry.
A specific kind of experimentation to help find your calling
To find your calling, you need to experiment.
Self-reflection is important. Looking back at what you enjoyed as a child, examining your current interests, and engaging in thought-experiments of the sort, “What would you do if you had one day left to live?” – all those things are important.
But once you’ve got a candidate (or list of candidates), you need to take a test-drive.
You can’t know you’re meant to be the world’s next super heroine-cum-gluten-free-baker without trialling that vocation first.
The problem with this approach, however, is that it takes a lot of time.
And it’s not always possible to commit to serious experimentation. If you’re like most people, you have a job, commitments, and an untidy stack of bills that you’re avoiding.
So what’s a little old purpose-seeker to do?
Do you like getting dressed up? (stick with me here)
Here’s the crucial question:
How can you experiment quickly and enjoyably?
Well, I think there’s a simple way.
I call it the one-day fancy dress experiment.
Here’s what it involves:
Pick a potential candidate for your purpose and spend a day “acting it out”.
That’s it. Choose a vocation and set aside a day to “live” as though you’re already pursuing it. Don’t take the process too seriously. Remember, you’re just pretending.
If you think you’re destined to be a playwright, spend a day crafting the first act of your masterpiece. Design a set in your living room. Spend some time researching costumes and famous actors you’d like to emulate.
If you want to be a professional dancer, spend the day choreographing and performing a routine.
If you think you might be the world’s next greatest drag queen…well, I’ll leave that to you. A trip to the wig shop will probably be in order.
Anything goes. Just remember to have fun.
How to know when you find your calling?
So how do you know when you’ve found your “one thing”?
People often say you “just know” what your purpose is.
But, in my experience, that’s not how intuition works.
You don’t know before you get started. Instead, the voice of intuition appears when you’re trying things out.
You’ll be doing something and suddenly be gripped by the feeling: “Yes! This is precisely what I’m meant to be doing.”
Don’t get me wrong. Feelings can be unreliable. You might feel certain about something only to have doubts later on.
But at some point, that “yes” feeling is going to stick.
And that’s what it means to “just know”.
Don’t be put off by people who say that finding your purpose isn’t a worthwhile activity.
Or that it isn’t possible.
Ignore that little trickster in your head that says, “You don’t have a calling.”
Studies have shown that people with a well-defined vocation sleep better, live longer, and have better mental health.
A little time spent figuring this out will pay off in a big way.
What’s more, life is short. Way too short to spend on joyless activities.
By injecting fun back into your life, by relating to work in a playful way, you’ll reconnect with something fundamental to your happiness.
I know it’s a cliche, but just imagine waking up every morning with a deep-rooted sense of joy and meaning. Imagine yourself eager, energized, and ready to meet the day.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Now, time to mark off your next free day.