There is an adage that says “You can never see the picture when you’re in the picture.” That explains the common phenomenon we’ve all seen—the therapist who cannot manage his or her own dysfunctional life, or the “cobbler whose children have no shoes.”
Everyone needs the opportunity to get out of his or her own picture, so that the picture can come into focus. It is then that dots can be connected and synergies become obvious. Understanding aspects of core identity (work style, values, drivers, self-ideal) alongside a definition for a satisfying life and career can highlight opportunities for the most meaningful engagement and ignite an incredible level of enthusiasm.
Whether we are conscious or it or not, we all strive for three things:
- We want to do something we’re good at
- We want to make someone’s life better with our efforts
- We want to be appreciated for our contributions
At the intersection of these three things will be your most fulfilling work (some call it your “calling”), and sometimes the simple act of putting definition around these desires can light up an otherwise hidden path forward—even within your existing career.
So, how do you find your calling? Answering these questions can help you get on the right track to finding an answer.
First, what are you great at? What comes naturally to you? Ask yourself questions like:
- What have I been complimented for?
- What achievements do I most enjoy revisiting?
- What positive things have my peers and colleagues noticed about my work?
- What challenges am I called upon to help address?
Second, what contributions feel meaningful to you? Ask yourself questions like:
- When do I gladly make sacrifices for others?
- When have I made a positive difference to someone that made me feel as good or better?
- What do I care about above all else?
Finally, what’s your preferred feedback loop? Ask yourself questions like:
- Do I need explicit feedback or is implied appreciation enough?
- Do I like to receive praise in public or private?
- Is it important to me that I am trusted with increasing responsibility?
Once you find your calling, you’ll look back and ask why you didn’t do it sooner. So step out of your own picture one of these days and see what comes into focus.