By Lissa Rankin MD
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
This article is for those of you who are still seeking your purpose. Before I give you some practical tips, let me start by saying that finding your calling isn’t like going to medical school or getting your MBA. You can’t just sign up, jump through 12 easily defined hoops, and graduate with a full understanding of your Divine assignment. It’s more like going for a wander in a meadow, with no marked trails, being led purely by instinct, synchronicity, pleasure, curiosity, and signs from the Universe.
So how can you write an article about guide-posts for a trail with no markers? I don’t know. Let me try, but make sure you filter it through your own intuition before you trust my guidance!
1. Trust that your calling is seeking you, every moment of every day.
You are like soulmates, searching for each other from the far reaches of the planet, and you will find each other. I promise. Guaranteed. Pinkie promise. So take a deep breath and release the anxiety that comes when you just know your life has purpose but you’re not yet sure what it is.
2. You can’t force the process of finding your calling.
Worrying, struggling, striving, pushing, and “making it happen” doesn’t help. It’s the exact opposite. You surrender into your calling. You let your calling arrive.
3. Consider the hardest struggle of your life and consider how you overcame it.
It was hard. It hurt. You felt lonely and ill equipped to handle what you were forced to endure. But darling, this was your initiation. You survived. Now you can use what you learned to serve and help heal others who are struggling with what you’ve overcome. What is that struggle? Who could you help?
4. Follow the guide-posts of your pleasure.
While callings may be scary, and while you may experience struggles in the process of fulfilling a mission, it will always, at its core, feel like bliss. If the way you’re trying to serve feels like pulling teeth, you probably haven’t found your calling. When you do, it feels like play. You can’t believe anyone would actually pay you to do what you’d do for free. Does that sound too good to be true? Right now, I’m at a gorgeous beach house in Santa Monica with my friend and mentor Martha Beck, who wrote Finding Your Own North Star, and we’re filming a documentary about how the mind can heal the body. The ocean is right there. Martha is making me laugh so hard I’m about to pee my pants. And they pay me for this job! I’m not any more special than you are. Your calling will feel just as fun!
Yes, I’m kinda terrified. I’ve never filmed a movie before. I’m more than a little panicked that the medical establishment is going to burn me at the stake for preaching such heresy. But underneath it all, I am having the time of my life. And you will too when you let go of the story that all meaningful work has to be a struggle. As Martha teaches me, play until it’s time to rest. Then rest until it’s time to play. If it starts feeling too much like work, you’re off track.
Preach it, sister!
5. Find and follow your “hot tracks.”
Martha says that finding your calling is like tracking a rhino. If you have no idea where the rhino is going, keep moving backwards until you find the last hot track. What’s the last thing you loved doing? What lit you up? You might have to go all the way back to childhood if you’ve been selling your soul for a paycheck for too long.
Don’t worry about whether your hot track is “practical.” If your hot track was selling baseball cards to kids on your Little League team or baking cupcakes for the Girl Scouts or painting tie dyed T-shirts at summer camp, go with it! Your hot tracks will never let you down.
6. Stop thinking.
You can’t reason your way to your calling. Again, it’s quite the opposite. The more you try to use your intellect, the more you’ll sabotage yourself.
7. Start surrendering.
As Tosha Silver teaches us to pray in her gorgeous book Outrageous Openness, trust that “my perfect new path is already selected and will arrive at the right time. I’ll be shown the steps to receive it.” Don’t strong arm your calling. Call in Divine support. Follow the steps as they appear. Follow the signs when they guide you.
Whenever I’m frustrated with something that won’t seem to work itself out, I usually wind up laughing at myself. Who am I to think I can “fix” every little thing in the world? Why can’t I let go of my need to be in control? Turn it over to the Divine, then sit back and smile…You’re about to get surprised in ways that will delight you.
8. Be willing to feel crazy.
The instincts that will lead you to your calling will likely leave you feeling like you’ve lost your marbles. If you feel that way, lean in! It’s a good sign. Means you’re getting close. When Martha was getting close to her calling, she bought a cowgirl hat- and then spent her life’s fortune on a horse ranch years later. And Martha didn’t even like country-western gear.
When I was getting close to mine, I let a spirit guide named Sebastian dictate an email to doctors I knew I could never send. And then I started the Whole Health Medicine Institute after Martha told me I was supposed to bring the doctors to her horse ranch for equine therapy workshops. (Cue Twilight Zone music.) Both of us were convinced we were about to get institutionalized. Then our callings broke through like wild stallions who had been seeking us all along.
9. Pick a new “everybody.”
Stop caring what “everybody” thinks. Martha teaches us that most of us have a very short list when we worry what “everybody” will think. It’s probably Mom, your pastor, your boss, or Great Aunt Gertrude who loves to “tsk tsk’s” everything she hears on the radio and always insists that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Instead, pick a new “everybody” and seek their counsel. Your new everybody doesn’t have to include even living people! Feel free to choose Jesus, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, me, or Martha (we’ve got your back.) When you worry what “everybody” thinks, let go of Great Aunt Gertrude and replace her with your new council. Close your eyes and listen to what we would tell you. Trust that instead.
But again, don’t listen to me! Listen to your gut. Filter the invitation through your Inner Pilot Light and join us if you’d like!
Previous articles by Lissa:
- How Fear Makes You Sick
- 8 Ways Overcoming Fear Can Improve Your Health
- Why Engaging In Work You Love Could Save Your Life
- How To Set Health Goals & Surrender Attachment To Outcomes
- The Health Benefits Of Finding Your Tribe
- 7 Tips For Finding Your Tribe
- Make Your Body Ripe For Miracles
- How To Transform Stress Into Relaxation
About the author:
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.
Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.