The thing that no one tells you… is that no one else really knows either. The further into adulthood I go, the more I understand and appreciate that there is no plan. There are no rules, and no one has the manual because one doesn’t exist.
There are also a lot of people who grew up to be who they thought they wanted to be when they grew up, and they don’t like it one bit. Or maybe they used to, but they don’t feel passionate and energized about it anymore.
So what’s the point of that little diatribe? For me to tell you that you can be whatever the hell you want to be. And you know what else? You can change your mind. As many times as you want.
Here are some things to consider when you’re trying to find your calling:
You must be brutally honest with yourself
With both your strengths and your weaknesses. You have to be able to take an honest and accurate inventory of what you’re really super great at and what you really truly suck at.
If you have a hard time with this – I personally think our greatest flaw as a species is the inability to be objective about ourselves – then ask a trusted friend or family member. You need to ask the one who you tend to seek out for advice; they’re probably the one who knows you best and can give you thoughtful and helpful feedback.
This also matters when it comes to digging into things that you think you’re awesome at, but maybe you’re actually not. Entitled millennial here; that was a tragic day for me when I realized I wasn’t actually perfect at everything and had to work hard to get shit done. BUT the counterpoint is that I COULD work hard and get good at pretty much anything. #discipline
If you have a tendency to start a million projects and never finish them, that’s a problem.
You need to know what your superpower is
What is the one thing that you are literally incredible at? And then what does that really mean?
I have a friend that says her superpower is networking and connecting people. But what’s really behind that is that she is very good at quickly assessing someone’s know-how and capabilities and identifying how they can contribute or how others could help them in areas where they need support.
She’s great at identifying people’s potential, their strengths and weaknesses, and how all of that fits into the existing (very large!) sphere of people she knows, who she also has a mental file on. A walking, talking, Dewey decimal system for humans.
THAT. Is a superpower.
She’s the first person I ask for recommendations or referrals when I need to know somebody. That’s what’s up.
You need to know what you are absolutely terrible at
This is also often the thing you also hate to do, and you probably hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.
Me? I hate doing super tedious shit. Some people love details, and I think I actually used to maybe enjoy doing detail-driven things. But at some point realized I don’t actually like doing the things.
The problem with that is that I still have to do some of the things. And I’m actually incredibly organized (sometimes to my detriment, but more on that later), but it’s mostly because then I don’t have to find the tiny things because I know where I put them all.
So basically, I have to create systems or processes that help me outsmart myself, especially when it comes to doing the important stuff, like bookkeeping or keeping track of projects and contractors and the like.
I know that I have a tendency to ignore the small stuff, so I work on paying extra close attention when I’m working on it.
Sit down and reflect and brainstorm
I believe in the power of writing things down on paper as opposed to electronic methods, but if that works for you, then go for it.
You’re going to make 4 lists. Are you ready?
First one: all the things that you enjoy doing that literally bring you actual joy, even if they’re not maybe not specifically business-related, like reading or cross-stitching or going for walks around the neighborhood with your dog.
Second one: all the things that you’re good at, which sometimes has things from the first list, but sometimes has other things too. Try not to overthink it; you can have things on one list or two lists or no lists.
Third one: all the things you hate doing, the things that suck the life out of you. For me, that’s going to the grocery store. Or doing incredibly repetitive, detailed work.
Fourth one: all the things you’re really bad at, which usually has elements of the things you hate doing list in it. If this list is longer than the things you’re good at, you’re being WAY too hard on yourself and you need to scratch some of these off and then go back and add more to the things you’re good at, okay?
So now what?
Well, I tricked you because there’s going to be another list. <insert evil laugh>
So look back through all the lists you made and look for any common themes. Do this for both the good things and the bad things, and jot down anything that stands out to you.
Now for your final list – for now, you can definitely do this exercise over and over again! – write down all the things you can possibly think up that would allow you to do MORE of the things you love and LESS of the things that don’t bring you joy.
Can you do any of them? I bet you can. Maybe not on the grandest scale at first, but sometimes the very best things start small.
You got this.