“I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.”

— Oprah Winfrey

I believe we all come to this earth with gifts and talents designed to help us grow and to bless others lives. There are traits unique to each of us and it is in pursuing and doing those things that we find and fulfill our “calling” or find our “voice.” Dr. Stephen Covey called that process the 8th habit: “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

You will not necessarily be paid to pursue your calling (although you might be) and you might not have the ability to pursue it full-time (although you might have that happen too), but no matter your age or stage in life, there are steps you can take to pursue that thing you were put on the earth to do.

While a calling can and should be deeply fulfilling, it is unrealistic and unfair to expect that your path will always be just fun and games. Joseph Campbell, a professor who taught about hero myths, introduced the phrase “follow your bliss” back in the 1970’s. Later, Campbell became concerned about how people were using — or rather, mis-using — the phrase. It was reported that he quipped, “What I should have said was, ‘Follow your blisters.’” You may do the most exciting, fulfilling work in the world but some days are just boring. Or hard. Or both.

You will be called upon to sacrifice. Don’t expect deep meaning without paying the price for it.

What if you don’t know what your calling is? Here are some questions you might want to spend some time exploring.

Are you feeling a pull, a longing, to do more? Say more? Be more? I would suggest that’s your calling, whispering in your ear and tugging at your heartstrings. Ask yourself: What do you love to do? What do you hate to do? What “work” do you do that doesn’t seem like work? What do people tell you you are really good at? What is the thing you think is simple and easy to do, but those around you marvel at your ability to do it? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What would you do if you had unlimited resources?

What captivates you? What type of books do you keep reading? What blogs do you follow? What excites you or even enrages you? What gives you energy? What drains the life out of you? What do you want to change, shape, and leave better than you found it? What segment of the population are you drawn to help? What do you want to experience, witness, and learn? What makes your heart sing?

Ask your friends and family. Ask your social media “tribe” to describe your strengths in three words. Or ask them which topics they would most like you to teach them. Journal. Write out 50 responses to the question “What is my calling?” then don’t pause, edit or stop until you get to 50.

Finally, take action! If you can’t figure out where to start, just pick a path and head down it. You may discover something new to love or find that what you thought looked great just isn’t for you. Once, (OK, more than once) I successfully pursued a path I thought was a great fit for me. It was not. In fact, it made me want to poke my eyes out with plastic spoons. But did I learn something? You bet! And I never have to wonder “what if” with those paths again. I’m also going to share a little secret — if you wait for the “perfect time” to start pursuing that which you feel called to do, you will never begin. You will never have enough free time, enough disposable income or be completely free of fear. I feel fear all the time. I just do it anyway.

German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Get going.

Holly Richardson has pursued many things and thinks her calling involves working with and loving other people. She would love to hear where your path is leading you.