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How did you find your "Life Calling"?(32 posts)

How did you find your "Life Calling"?Len J
Feb 8, 2002 6:53 AM
Maybe it's a mid-life crisis, I don't think so But then again I'm not objective........

But seriously folks:

Is anyone out there doing something with thier life that fulfills them? Something that your Passionate about? Something that really feeds your soul?

If so, How did you find it? When did you find it? How did you know?

Any experiential help in how to find a calling would be greatly appreciated.

Wow, here goes...Spinchick
Feb 8, 2002 7:20 AM
Before I became a stay-at-home mom 4 years ago, I had a career. I worked in the non-profit, social services field. When I was pregnant, I knew I was going to stay home for a while - but I thought I'd be going back to work when my daughter was 2 or so. Little did I know how much my life (and priorities) would change!

Since you are a parent, I don't even need to tell you how fulfilled my life has become since my daughter was born. And, considering my family history and my own childhood, I'm damn good at it. I realize I'm rambling here and this may not mean anything :-) but I guess what I'm trying to say is this: My calling now is not associated with a salary. I also realize that one needs to make money to support one's family. My calling, I've decided, is to make a difference in the lives of those around me - however that is done. If I make money at it - great. If I make money doing something else (because working in the non-profit world is NOT a money-making proposition), then my calling is still the same.

Based on some of the things you've shared about yourself, you strike me as someone who also feels the need to make a difference in the lives of others. My bet is that you do so on a daily basis. Maybe what you're looking for is a career change. Maybe it's something more profound than that. Either way, you're probably already doing what you've been called to do - or at least some of it.

I've edited this post a couple of times and almost didn't post it. Mostly because it's a little rambling and I wasn't sure it made sense. Maybe it will make sense to you.

The direction to go is not always forward.


Thanks for the thoughtful response.Len J
Feb 8, 2002 7:51 AM
Some rambling thoughts of my own as well as additional info:

-I'm 46 years old with 4 kids, 3 in college, one a junior in H/S.
-My last child is out of school when i'm 52.
-At 52 I'll have been in my current career for 31 years.
-at 52 I still feel like I can be productive for at least another 20 years or more.
-I'm good at what I currently do and get paid well to do it, but It is just a job. It doesn't feed me.

-In thinking about what I might do when my large monetary responsibilities end, I realized that I have no clue how to figure out what might "Feed my soul".

Hence the post.

YOur point about already doing part of what i'm called to do sounds right, How do I lever that into a career?

Thanks for the thoughtful response.Spinchick
Feb 8, 2002 8:04 AM
I have a few more insights I'd like to share with you. However, they may be a bit lengthy - why don't you e-mail me?

I've had more than a few people tell me I should become one of those personal "life" coaches. If I didn't think they were so hokey I might consider it. I really enjoy doing this kind of thing. One of the most fulfilling parts of my former career was helping people with disabilities recognize their strengths and put them to good use in a paying position. This "thing" just kind of follows me around I guess.
Thanks, I will. nmLen J
Feb 8, 2002 1:40 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful response.DINOSAUR
Feb 8, 2002 8:33 AM
I'm a couple of years ahead of you in years (59) and in a different situation. I'm retired, have two grown sons, both out of the house and have careers. I've been married for going on 36 years and we have a 15 year old daughter who a sophomore in high school.

To tell you the truth I never found my "life's calling". I stumbled on a career in which I had a lot of second thoughts on for 27 years (as if "why am I doing this?"). However I managed to survive and retire in almost one piece.

They say life begins at retirement, well sort of, you have to find something to keep yourself occupied. I came back to cycling, which kills a couple of hours a day, the rest of the time I dabble on the computer, work on my classic car, and during the summer months I'm busy with working around my property. My main concern is my family and being a father and husband.

I think that most people really aren't happy with what they are pursuing as careers. Mainly it's just a way to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Or maybe I did find my life's calling. Not having to worry about work and do what I please with my time.

What's the saying? "Work Sucks But I Need The Bucks". I used to have a license plate frame with that saying printed on it.

Winning the lottery would be nice....

Actually at age 52 you are still young in this day and age.
I got to a point where I forgot about how old as was and when people asked me I have to stop and're only as old as you think you are...

Ever see the movie "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks? It's about inner peace and finding out what's really important in life...

Just rambling...
My wife...MikeC
Feb 15, 2002 1:58 PM
...was the Chief Flight Nurse for a hospital helicopter program. She's got degrees and certifications out the wazoo, and if your wazoo's broken, she knows how to fix it.
We had our first child when she was 34. She took six months off, then changed to parttime work. When our second daughter was born 20 months later, she quit completely.
She was an adrenaline-powered overachiever, and only about a hundred people in the US had an equivalent position; but she flatly states that nothing compares with being a full-time mom, and there's nothing else that she's as good at, either.
not my job but my familyColnagoFE
Feb 8, 2002 7:54 AM
I guess my job isn't the most fulfilling thing right now, but it pays the bills and isn't too terrible. I'd get into a new line of work, but I really can't decide what I'd like to do other than what I'm doing now--and that was after career coaching and the whole nine yards. I just draw a blank. I guiess maybe someday I'll figure it out, but I'm not going to stress anymore. My family can be the focus of my life for the time being and I always have cycling.
re: How did you find your "Life Calling"?netso
Feb 8, 2002 8:12 AM
My first job in research was great. I loved it!!! But, it did not pay much, so I sold my soul for money. What a mistake. I have not had a job that I have liked since. But, made money.
My mother started me on my way, and a college professor aided the process.
Damn good questionscottfree
Feb 8, 2002 8:15 AM
I was blessed, I suppose; I always wanting to do what I'm doing now. As soon as I could read, I wanted to write. The problem was simply a tactical one -- finding a place or person who'd pay me to do it.

My daughter, though, is another story. Vastly gifted, at 27 she's adrift because, while she could do anything, she feels passion for nothing in particular. She ends up in 'jobs' that leave her feeling empty. So she moves on, unsatisfied and searching.

If you have a calling, I think that fact is obvious to you. If not, and if the question is important to you (many people don't care, they just want money)I can only say the answer must lie somewhere outside what we usually consider 'work.'

A hard concept for Americans to accept.
Well put.......Len J
Feb 8, 2002 1:20 PM
I sure care, but don't know if I should search hard, or allow myself to be open to it & have faith it will come. So I'm stumbling around doing both.

We'll see.

Hey Len, we're in the same boat.Brian C.
Feb 8, 2002 8:45 AM
If I could wave a magic wand, I'd be a National Geographic photographer based out of Sante Fe. N.M.
But here I am in Toronto putting commas in other people's writing. It pays the bills and I'm thankful for it, but it's almost by rote these days.
Like youi, two of the kids are out on there own now and there's one more to go. For anyone who suggests that it's not too late to pursue one's dream, I say thanks for the encouragement, but a 50-year-old, mortgaged up to his ass with an 11-year-old to look out for just can't shift gears that easily.
Maybe I could have been a National Geographic photographer, if raising a family hadn't got in the way.
Which has me thinking: sending three law-abiding children out into the world wasn't too shabby a calling.

Couldn't agree more.Len J
Feb 8, 2002 1:23 PM
Raising reponsible, open, real adults is very satisfying, I just see it winding down. Where does my energy get funneled now?

Sounds like a good, 80-miler is in order this weekend!Brian C.
Feb 8, 2002 1:36 PM
Nothing like a good, long ride for soul searching.
Maybe a calling is like love: The harder you look for it, the more elusive it seems. Then, one day when you least expect it, it hits you out of the blue.
Usually I feel a little undo pressure in my bladder. . .js5280
Feb 8, 2002 8:51 AM
Wait a minute that's "Nature's Calling" my bust ;-)
On a serious note (long). . .js5280
Feb 8, 2002 10:32 AM
I think I figured my life's calling, at least part of it, at a fairly young age. When I was 25, I was diagnosed w/ testicular cancer. My story is very similar to Lance's well, except the Tour de France thing ;-) Same age, same time, similar type of cancer, we're both "lefties." I was in a bit better shape though, I had caught it before it spread elsewhere (at least on a CT scan) but since it was nasty type and had access to the blood stream. I elected for two rounds of chemo, or what I like to call the 6 week hangover. That tends to put things in perspective. During that time I found a resource on the internet, the Testicular Cancer Resource Center (TCRC). It was started by a gentleman of the name Chris Brewer. We've been internet buddies since then and finally met each other face to face here last fall. Some of you might recoginize that name because Chris is the webmaster for and a number of other professional cyclists now. He also is very active w/ Lance Armstrong Foundation. Both passions of his. The TCRC is now headed by Doug Bank, an incredible individual who is extremely devoted to the site. The TCRC was a very important tool in my treatment and recovery, and still is. In addition to the information on the web page about TC, there is also a list-serv, basically an email support group called the TC-Net. I've been participating on the list for the last 5 years helping others behind me deal and cope w/ their cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. It also helps me w/ long term issues such as long term effects of chemo, fertility, and other "surviorship" issues. This part of my calling, a
way to give back to others through sharing my experience so that their's a little bit easier to deal with.

The LAF also focuses specifically on "surviorship" issues because no one else really is (most is on medical research)
and the fact is we are winning the war against cancer. Heard a statistic that if you lump the most prevalent types of cancer, survivorship has gone from like less then 50% to over 80% now. That means there are a lot more of us survivors out there. Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence anymore, I'm living proof! That is an important ability, I can go to someone who's been diagnosised and say I've made it and you can too. An important phrase in our group is the "obligation of the cured." What that means to me is I have the gift of still being alive because through someone else's efforts. About the time I was born, they found the silver bullet for my cancer. The cure rate now is 98%, before then it was like 15%, I know I wouldn't be writing this story. To me that means anyone who donated to cancer research through a check, a bicycle ride, 5K, etc. played a part in my cure. So for me, charity rides are another way I can give back. This will be my second year doing the Ride for the Roses and also coincides w/ my 5th year of being cancer free. An important year because even the doctors (and hopefully insurance companies) say I'm cured!

Anyways, I find that very few people work in an area they can practise their passion in life, and if you can, you're very lucky. Therefore don't just look at your occupation as the only source. That's only 40 hours or so out of a week. Sounds like you can retire here soon so you could always go work for a organization you believe in. I think life's calling is this; 1) Make yourself happy, that way your not a burden to anyone else. Happiness always starts w/ you making yourself that way each and every day. 2) Do what you can to make those people you love, happy. I think you've shown that w/ your marriage and chidren 3) Do something for others, people you may never know, that will help them. I don't know who helped the doctors and find my cure, but I sure appreachiate that they did. Once you make yourself happy, then I think it's just a natural extension to try to do so for others. In my case cancer was my wake up call, in some ways having cancer is one of the best things that has happened to me. Everything is now in persepctive. When I have a down day, it's never as bad as it was 5 years ago. The truth is you never know what's in store for you so you have to make the most you can out of life. Look to what made an important change in your life and pass that on. Carpe diem!

BTW, if you'd like to read about my fight against cancer go to:

If you'd like to support me for the Ride for the Roses, drop me an email at: wa_john(nospam)

Remove the "(nospam)" from the address above. (i.e. wa_john@. . .)
That's inspiring.........Len J
Feb 8, 2002 1:28 PM
thank you for that gift.

Your thought about the effect of your own happiness on those around you resonates with my experience. I also admire that you are living a life of gratitude.

Congratulations on your 5 yr anniv.

Congrat's on the magic 5 year mark! -NMTig
Feb 8, 2002 3:43 PM
Thanks Len and Tig! Sorry for the late post. . .js5280
Feb 18, 2002 3:42 PM
I was in Salt Lake for Olympics. Fun times!!!
more stuff to consider...Starliner
Feb 8, 2002 8:58 AM
I'm trying to make a living as an artist and have many a story of struggle to tell, where life often seems like a journey across a desert with some oases thrown in to keep things interesting and me motivated to keep moving on to the promised land which always seems just around the corner. I still think it is, BTW.

Sometimes when I have felt bogged down I take stock of what I have in life, both materially and of the heart, and then proceed to lighten the load a bit by cleaning out and letting go of the old things I've saved for reasons I either forget or which have become invalid for the present time.

If you find this hard to do, just imagine you are on a boat and it is sinking fast and have to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind. Believe me, decisions on such things get easier to make when you make your life the most important thing to care about.

These decisions not only concern junk that might be cluttering up your physical living space, but also junk that might be cluttering up your mental living space and sapping your energy -- personal relationships that have reached the end of their shelf life; pointless & indulgent habits; old baggage; etc.

This periodic process of simplifying my life is kind of like lightening up the bicycle - it makes it easier for me see the road in front of me and to climb the hills that lie ahead.

Oh, and one more thing... you might be amazed at what you can find during this process -- some valuable things about yourself that you might have buried and forgotten.

Which is to say that the answer to your question lies somewhere within you. Good luck in finding the golden key.
"Follow your bliss" -Joseph CampbellTig
Feb 8, 2002 9:04 AM
Following one's bliss, to keep it simple, is to allow your heart to guide your life decisions. The tough part is balancing finances and obligations at the same time!

Family is my life's calling. It doesn't fulfill all my needs (if so, I wouldn't cycle!), but loving and caring for my family is the largest part of the pie. I look at what is most important in life and attend to its needs accordingly when possible. What is most important? Easy. "What could I not live without the most" helps answer that. The love of my wife and kids tops the list. Technically speaking, eating, sleeping, etc., tops the list, and that's where the financial responsibility balance kicks in.

You are feeling the need to help others. The kids don't need you as much, but you don't want to become selfish with your time either. Here's a possibility that allows you to work and maintain what you have and set up for retirement, yet make a difference. Volunteering. There are so many ways to make a difference in the world right in your area. In fact, you could retire and not have enough time to scratch the surface!

My Dad volunteers once a week at a local center that refurbishes eyeglasses for the needy. He also transports glasses to Mexico and prescribes them to the poor and the Indians there using a special scope designed for 3rd world applications. He also helps surgical teams when they travel to Mexico to treat the poor there. He was a real estate appraiser in his working life!

My first calling was before family life. I joined the local volunteer fire department. I learned how to fight fires, perform rescues, and eventually got into the EMS side as well. Before, I always thought I'd throw up if I had to see someone bleeding and hurt. The funny thing is, once you are needed, everything switches into automatic mode. Sure, I was in tough and terrible situations, but being needed made it all flow somehow. As I got better, I could put something extra into the work. I could go the extra mile and reach out to people's hearts. Many in my community were elderly and really needed a compassionate person to listen to them and care about them. That connection with them became the best part.

I later put myself through a professional fire academy and worked for a paid service. I could still reach out to people, but many were so filled with hate and fear, nothing could get through. After a few years of that, the magic faded. I should have stayed strictly volunteer. Helping your neighbors is much more satisfying than doing it as a living for interurban a-holes that put nothing back into the world except hate.

I no longer live where I can volunteer, but miss it still. My family gets my caring ways instead. Is it selfish? Perhaps. I feel I made a noticeable difference in the world and need to do the same by raising kids that will become assets and not liabilities.
"Follow your bliss" -Joseph CampbellLen J
Feb 8, 2002 1:33 PM
I do quite a bit of volunteer work, at both a local substance abuse facility & as a mentor to a local teen.
It does feed my soul. My struggle is to figure out how to capture this in something that is sustaining & draws out my energy.

Thanks, your reminder about family is timely.

"Follow your bliss" -Joseph Campbellharlett
Feb 13, 2002 9:52 PM
len..our passion is as personal as our dna-- no one can thrust passion on another-- nor can it be conjured up-- it's there, inside, just like your heartbeat--

in a conversation with my mother when i was a teen she told me something that is still with the end of your life you should not ask why you weren't a margaret mead or an elizabeth cady stanton or a marie curie.. but instead..were you lauren?

since each person is unique it's reasonable to believe that each of us also has a purpose, a reason for being, that is uniquely personal-- it's about finding the truth that is true for you--

purpose doesn't necessarily involve grand ideas or revolutionary inventions-- instead it often springs from a commitment to be faithful to whatever task is in front of us-- the act of learning has always been one of passion for me-- teaching gives me the ability to continue to learn and then share the ideas and stimulation that i find in that learning-- i have found purpose in interacting with the inquisitive minds that are found in the field of education-- i have even found passion and purpose in the challenge of a triple century, running on a forest trail, being with kindred spirits, being an active part of a loving and caring family/community and in a number of the tasks that i have taken on-- personal purpose is just that though.. personal-- we each need to find our own--

for what it is worth.i have always thought that purpose is the essence of who we are-- to know purpose we have to know who we are-- we can't let culture, background, wealth, talents or intelligence limit us in our search for purpose-- rather, we need to look at these as clues to why we were born in such a place and at such a time-- we need people who express confidence in our ability to fulfill our dreams-- (we also need to give that confidence and encouragement to others)-- at times, like we did as children, we need to continue to imagine a world in which everything is possible--

though passion comes from the heart, living it is an act of the will-- the most difficult part of fulfilling a life purpose(we can have many) is actually doing it-- we are called to live out dreams and visions and inspirations-- when we find a goal that has our purpose in it we need to meet its challenge head on with commitment and perseverance-- it is only in the realization of set dreams and goals that purpose rings true--

i've always felt that understanding our life purposes requires an open mind and willingness to listen and learn-- finding purpose is a creative process-- enjoy it-- don't worry about when you'll find it or feel anxious because you haven't identified the next purpose yet-- just keep on a positive path, learning and sharing and caring--

again.for what it's worth.when i'm searching my mind, on matters like this, i often recall tibetian monks that i met a few years ago on a cycling trip-- in the thin air of their mountaintop monasteries they have developed a highly sophisticated approach to the finding of spirit and purpose-- the simple presentations of nature gives us a sense of our mortality and the immensity of the life that is our matrix-- both of those sensations can be useful parts of the foundation the mind uses to search out purpose-- for me, being in nature, in solitude, can be of immense value when looking inward--

be patient and listen to yourself my friend, life purposes are the true spirit of who we are's there in your heart.

As usual, great guidance, thanks. NMLen J
Feb 14, 2002 8:20 AM
Lauren, I know what you're doing. Please stop it. (nm)DJB
Feb 15, 2002 12:29 PM
Sometimes good comes out of the bad.....DINOSAUR
Feb 8, 2002 9:57 AM
I lost my father, mother, and a younger brother in a year year period. I broke my right hand at work and sustained a lifetime partial disability. About a year after I retired I was involved in a serious crash while riding my bike. I ended up in the hospital for seven days hooked up to morphine. I was 57 years old and thought I had seen it all. One of my best life experiences was coming home and sitting in my recliner in our family room and listening to my old school house pendulum clock ticking away on the wall. I learned that I had taken all the simple things in life for granted. It changed me forever. I now see the world in a different way. Most people don't sit back and take the time to really appreciate what they have. Sometimes I sit in my recliner and just listen to that old clock as a reminder. It's the simple things in life that count. I just needed a slight awakening....

"Don't hurry, don't worry. You're only here for a short visit. So be to stop and smell the flowers".
Walter Hagen
Bravo! -NMTig
Feb 8, 2002 10:07 AM
Let's pretend I have found my life's calling.McAndrus
Feb 8, 2002 10:12 AM
It isn't exactly my life's calling but it is how I got into my career, Information Systems.

In my youth, I wanted to be a mathematician and had begun a PhD path in Colorado. Job needs, marriage, children - the usual things - interrupted that.

At one point I had a crossroads decision to make. I had worked as an electrical engineer and later as a computer programmer.

With a small baby in the house, I had to decide what the career was going to be - to get serious about a path. So I took long walks. For a couple of months I'd go out each evening for an hour or so and just walk - anywhere. My wife thought I was getting weird and kept asking me if "everything is all right?"

On these walks I'd lay out my likes and dislikes, keeping in mind that whichever path I chose, I had to be able to support my family. It was a long discussion with myself and I ended up where I am today, in computers.

Keep in mind, my real calling I believe was still mathematics but hey, you have to make a living. This is a petty good compromise.

And long walks worked better than bike rides because I could think without having to pay attention to anything else.

If I think I need to do it again, I'll do the same thing. Just walk and think.
Feb 8, 2002 11:08 AM
I'm sure my post won't be as deep as some of the other great ones here, but here goes anyway.

I'm still pretty young compared to some, but I've found things that I enjoy. I entered a ski race when I was seven or eight. Haven't done anything else since. Not too dramatic I guess, but it taught me something. Things that you love to do are worth trying to achieve. If you really want something, then just do it because there is no damn reason not to.

I get the impression there is something you want to do, and think is worthwhile. Get off your computer and get started. And good luck
It's less that there is something specific I want to do.....Len J
Feb 8, 2002 1:37 PM
and more a sense that there is something I should do. The problem is I don't know what it is. It's like the moment is pregnant with potential but the view is fuzzy. In addition I have absolutly no experience in figuring this out.

re: How did you find your "Life Calling"?jrm
Feb 8, 2002 11:23 AM
Well my 20's for the most part exisited of dump apartments, hangovers and lame ass jobs. I seriously returned to college when i was 28. First went to a JC and then transferred to a state school. Took my first "survey" land use planning coarse in the 2nd semester of my junior year. THis really got me interested in planning as a career. The biggest influence on me becoming a planner was working as a enforcement intern during my senior year for the California Coastal Commission. Got my bachelors in Public Admin. Then went back and worked towards a post bachelor certificate in urban and regional planning. Interned at Caltrans in Los Angeles during this time.

Once i completed the certificate i was recruited by Caltrans as a transportation planner. Permanently hired with Caltrans in Oakland and been here ever since. Im not going to get rich doing this job unless i consult..which will come later. But, its a great job. Meet and work with interesting people and work outdoors. The area is such that theres good dirt and bike commuting is possible
Drifting and sh!t house luck!Steve98501
Feb 10, 2002 5:41 PM
I'm fascinated that there are planners. I never had a plan for my life and didn't begin thinking about it until I was just over 40 (53 now). I went to college because I thought I should and switched majors almost every quarter. Always fond of the outdoors, I drifted into ecology and fisheries. Became a biologist, got a job, and after 10 years I noticed that I had never regretted a Monday morning. I never made much money, but lacking any plan, it was hard to know I should have done better. But it was generally enough. Eventually raised 2 daughters, put them through college, and now find a need to re-define a purpose in life. I'm several jobs later, loving my work of solving nearly impossible problems.

Looking back, I see that my childhood lacked an opportunity for sports. So now I work out to stay healthy and got involved with cycling because it's something I can do at my age, and I'm doing centuries and doubles that just wow all the young folks at my office. My next plan is to travel, trying to take in the origins of western civilization, and to see some ecologically spectacular places. If so blessed, I hope to someday spoil grandchildren and build them bicycles.

The upshot is that I never found my calling; it must have found me!