Time recently presented an article on how to figure out what you should do with your life. It’s a short read, but a good one, and while I link the original article above, it can be summed up in one phrase.
It means “gifts plus passions plus values equals calling,” and having that spelled out so simply is both eloquent and maddening. Why couldn’t I have figured this out when I was in my early 20s when I had time to build a career, I ask myself in that pissed off voice that I get when I’m mad at myself for some perceived self-slight. And then I stop and remember a few facts that give me pause.
First off, figuring out my gifts is something I’m still doing to this day. My biggest gifts lately seem to be inspiring people and writing, but they haven’t always been that way. When I was working, my mental health wouldn’t always let me hold a permanent job, so I’d make do with temporary assignments as best as I could. My talent for a long time seemed to be working myself out of an assignment, sometimes weeks earlier than anticipated. (Just because I had trouble holding a job due to my illnesses didn’t mean I was a bad worker. It meant that there were days that my illnesses wouldn’t let me crawl out of bed, and most employers have a limit to how many times they can afford to hear that before they decide it’s time to move on.)
My passions are fairly simple. Help people in need, advocate for mental health awareness, make people laugh, cook awesome food, recreate history, play music that makes people happy, build really cool buildings with LEGO bricks, read, write, sing, dance, travel … hmm, maybe this isn’t so simple after all. I think before I find my true calling I should pare this list down from “DO ALL THE THINGS!” (Thanks for that phrase, Allie!) to “this is a passion, and that is a guilty pleasure.”
And my values? Again, this is a work in progress. But that leads me to what I suppose is the point.
In all honesty, all three of these things are fluid. Your gifts change over time, your passions ebb and flow, and your values, while usually fairly solid and based around your core beliefs, might take some time to truly establish.
So the questions now become: Which gifts, passions, and values are most important to you? Which of these would you like to make your life’s work about?
I established what I thought would be my dream job some time ago. I want to start a foundation that would provide last-resort financial assistance to the less fortunate (inspiration: Rev. Dan Larsen): make dreams come true for those who wish to better themselves, their families, and their communities through the fulfillment of their dream (inspiration: Percy Ross); advocate for those suffering from invisible disabilities and orphan diseases and raise funds for research into their treatment and potential cure (inspirations: too many to name). But while I have the values for it, and the passions to fuel it, my gifts are sorely lacking. However, that might be the easiest thing to resolve. I may just need to find backers willing to help with such a thing, and learn how to administer a non-profit. (I think that’s more realistic than “win a big Powerball payout.”)
When I’m ready healthwise, I think working toward making that dream job a reality is going to be my goal, because at its core, helping others better themselves is what I truly believe my calling is.