I thought I found my calling back when I was seven when a chimney sweep found a nest of hairless, newborn baby squirrels I vowed to nurse back to health. Those squirrels were just the first of dozens of baby squirrels I raised over the next fifteen years, earning me the title of “The Squirrel Girl.” In the moment I saw them, I knew I was supposed to be a healer, and I figured that meant I had to be a doctor or a veterinarian.

Not until years later did I realize how broad the definition of healer really is. I didn’t know it at the time, but the truth is that healers aren’t limited to medical doctors and vets. I now know that they can be acupuncturists, nurse practitioners, herbalists, massage therapists, life coaches, psychologists, energy medicine practitioners, shamans, intuitives, and spiritual counselors, as well. They can also be lawyers, secretaries, school teachers, artists, writers, sex therapists, monks, and truck-drivers who practice their profession with love, compassion, and a cracked wide-open heart, in service to Source. In truth, anyone who lives their life in service to others – is a healer – including YOU.

Those of you who know my story know the on-again-off-again love affair I have had with medicine, which I always assumed was my calling, until I found myself in a medical practice that required me to sell out my integrity every day. I’ve been honing that calling ever since I left my clinical practice five years ago. It’s still evolving.

Callings Morph

Callings are like that. You may think you’ve grasped yours, and then suddenly, you find it slipping through your fingers. Callings shift. They transmute. They shapeshift. It can be damn confusing and crazy making!

On my own journey, time and time again, I have tried to turn my back on the white coat, assuming I had gotten my calling all wrong. Then each time, when I get really honest with myself – I realize that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. It beckons like a siren song until you finally surrender to it. But it may not look the way you once thought it did. In my case, part of my calling still revolves around medicine, but it’s about transforming and revolutionizing consciousness about health care, rather than seeing patients in a hospital.

Perhaps your calling doesn’t quite look the way you thought too… 

Did You Think You Found Your Calling – Only It Wasn’t Quite Right?

Perhaps you thought you had found your calling when you went to law school or nursing school or got your teaching certificate. But then you found yourself dreading going to work, not because you don’t love the essence of what you do, but because, like medicine, the system is so freakin’ broken that you can’t do what you feel you’re here on this earth to do. You feel thwarted, and that leaves you feeling off purpose. If what you thought was your calling isn’t quite it, what is?

These are the questions that fuel dark nights of the soul and leave us jonesing for Valium.

When I’m working with my mentoring clients, I often find that people have a tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If they’re unhappy in their jobs, they’re tempted to ditch the whole thing and start from scratch.

Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we’re just in the wrong field and need to take a radical leap of faith. 

Finding The Thread

But more often than not, we were drawn to our career in the first place because of something that called to us. The trick is to the find the thread that drew you into that job in the first place, and cling to that thread like a lifeline. That thread is what you must follow in order to track your purpose like you’re tracking rhinos on an African game preserve, as my shero Martha Beck does. In case you don’t know Martha, Martha Beck is an O magazine columnist, the original life coach, and the author of Finding Your Own North Star and Finding Your Way In A Wild New World, as well as many other bestselling books like Expecting Adam. Back when I was confused about my life’s purpose four years ago, Finding Your Own North Star was a life preserver I was sure the Universe threw out just for drowning little ol’ me.

As Martha calls it, that thread you’ll find when you examine what drew you to your job in the first place is a “hot track” that will lead you to discover what you’re here on this earth to do and how you’re meant to serve the planet. But it’s not the only one. There are other hot tracks out there, just waiting to point you to your calling like a compass points to the North Star.

Are You Confused About What’s Calling You?

Do you feel frustrated about your life purpose? Are you out of touch with your professional desires? Do you long to be of service, to live a visionary life, only you’re not sure of your vision? Are you in a soul-sucking job you’d love to quit, only you don’t have a clue what’s next for you? Would you do anything to find your calling and get on purpose, in service to the world and your deepest desires?

Then I have great news for you!

Martha Beck, Amy Ahlers, and I are leading a teleseminar about how to find your calling for people just like you. You can register for the FREE call here. We’ll be covering how to find the hot tracks to your life’s purpose, how to navigate the road map to your calling, and how to alleviate anxiety and feel peace about your process. We’ll also be challenging you to ask yourself the right questions that will keep you on purpose, while teaching you some tools to help you discover what you’re here on this planet to do. Not to mention that you’ll get to hear Martha’s perfect blend of smarty-pants genius, sage guru wisdom, and stand up comic bad-ass sass!

Sign up here.

What’s Calling You?

What about you? Do you hear the whispers of a calling? Have you found it already? Is your calling screaming, but you’re hightailing it in the other direction?

Tell us what’s calling you. We’re here to listen to the whispers of your heart.

On purpose,

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9 Comments

  1. CaroG87

    When I was in my 20s and read “What Color Is Your Parachute?” I felt that my life’s mission was this: “To help others, no matter what job I actually do.” Well, in the 20+ years since, that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do…. but I’ll tell you what really makes my heart sing: two things: (a) singing and (b) helping people empower themselves by getting healthier in body …. amazing how the healthier body seems to lead to a healthier mind and spirit too. I don’t do either of those to make my living, but they make my life.

    I’m still trying to figure out my real calling….. where it’s shifting and changing and growing.

    Reply
  2. mb

    Just GRATITUDE FLOWING LIKE NIAGARA . . . Have been waiting years for all of this to be recognized and articulated, to know I’m not alone and there is actually help ‘outside’ for people like me. Am utterly in touch with this ‘calling’, 10 years ago walking away from the path that choked the potential for great good in the lives of others as well as my own,and have been luxuriating more and more in ‘nectar of the gods’ volunteer work, but financial security becoming wobblier and wobblier. Continually no door opening to a living wage for ‘drinking’ and passing around such nectar. Will be with you all next week – GRATEFULLY . . . OH SO GRATEFULLY . . .

    Be well. Be HAPPY. Drink the nectar and keep passing it around.

    mb

    Reply
  3. nancy miller

    You forgot to mention Yoga Teacher. After teaching public school for 30 years, now I’m teaching yoga with 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra, (guided meditation), at the end. I hope to do this for many years to come, although I am completely open to whatever comes my way. By the way, I love Martha Beck, she is my favorite part of “O” magazine. And thank you for my morning pep talks.

    Reply
  4. Hollie

    I thought I wanted to be an Architect. And some days I still do when talking to people about it. But I find the actual practice to be suffocating. It might be a simple thing to just step back down to an internship and at least make a tiny bit of money. But those jobs are soul-killers for me, and I’ve avoided doing that like the plague even though some money would be nice. Instead I struggle to find my way with a design business that makes no money and no impact except for a few individuals who find my writing informative. It’s nice to know after 5 years you’re still working on the same kind of issues. This is a good post. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Kim

    I’m at a point right now where I’m ready to throw the whole thing out the window and are questioning how I got into this crazy mess of a career. Exploring new ideas is quite scary and exciting.

    An inspiring tidbit that I read was that “just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that you should spend your life doing it.”

    Reply
  6. Lissa Rankin, MD

    So true Kim! Be careful what you’re good at. You might get caught spending your life doing something within your zone of genius that is not within your zone of pleasure!

    Reply
  7. Ken Jaques

    Great post Lissa,

    Over the past few years I have been on an amazing spiritual and healing journey. After being diagnosed with RA in 2008, I have been on a quest to drive change in the current health care system (aka disease management system), putting the “care” back in health care, and eradicating dis-ease, especially autoimmune dis-ease. I have been called a health care evolutionary and a healer (healing with words). I encourage people to examine and shed their limiting beliefs and STEP into their greatness.

    Sound like I have it all together? I’m actually very confused as to exactly what this is going to become. I keep taking baby steps forward every day and look forward to where this journey takes me. I know you’ve talked about waiting for signs and alignment and knowing that whatever it is is not supposed to be difficult. I absolutely love that and agree with it, even though I have days where I look up and say, “ok I’m ready, bring it on” :-).

    Namaste, Ken

    Reply
  8. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Ken,
    As you know, we share a similar calling. And even so, there are many times when I’m simply awaiting further instructions.

    That can feel frustrating when you’re raring to go. It can also create a lot of anxiety. But if you don’t know the next step- and you can trust that the Universe will make it obvious when you’re supposed to take your next step- you’ll find a lot of peace in the unknowing.

    A frequent prayer of mine is “If there’s something I’m supposed to do, please make it clear.”

    When I operate that way, it becomes so easy.

    I just know Ken, that something is going to happen, and suddenly you’ll say, “Oh- THAT! Of course…” and in a flash, it will all make sense…

    Patience, grasshopper 🙂

    Much love and gratitude that we share the same tribe
    Lissa

    Reply
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