Welcome to Format Free Fridays at AskDrDarcy.com, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited advice.
Most people struggle with this question. And why shouldn’t they? Choosing a career is no easier or less impactful than picking a spouse or a life partner, yet Americans are expected to have a general sense of direction by sophomore year of college. This pressure to know our calling at a time when we are still discovering how to make it to class on time is at best a trigger for a deer-in-the-headlights experience and at worst a setup for a career misalignment. And that’s exactly where most people are when they cross the threshold of my office door.
Me: “And why do you want to be in therapy?”
30-Something Client: “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
Me: “Great. Than let’s stop focusing on career and talk about what you like to do on weekends.”
Sounds strange – maybe even a little dismissive, but I’m really not interested in helping a client align with the profession that they think they should choose. I want to know what turns them on. I want to know what makes their heart beat faster or what one activity could cause them to pop out of bed on a Sunday morning before the sun rises, filled with excitement. I want to help them uncover their life’s calling.
Maybe ‘life calling’ is a little overwhelming. Let me take it down a notch. Let’s just talk about flow. You’ve been there: Fully immersed in an activity to the point that you lose awareness of time... When you’ve been so consumed with a project or an activity that you’re literally flooded with endorphins and you have the focus of a laser. That’s your life whispering to you ~ illuminating your life calling.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I knew that I’d be a shrink from the moment I needed to choose a path. That’s not entirely true: From the moment I knew I wouldn’t be a rock star, I knew I’d be a shrink. My profession is a perfect fit for me. I know it’s right because I’m not really sure when I stop working…I’m always doing service of some sort. Not for others – for me. Because it’s my calling. Because it turns me on. Because I turn into the biggest geek you’ve ever seen and I don’t give a shit about how I might appear to the person or people in front of me. I’m in flow. I’m aligned.
Maybe it’s lofty or even naïve, but I believe we should love what we do with such passion that the delineation between work and play is not evident. Because when you love what you do ~ when you are aligned with your life’s calling, you never work a day in your life. So what’s your life’s calling?