This week we will look at how to handle the callings we haven't answered, how to let go of these so that they don't hold us back and how to move forward.
As I've been looking at the concept of "callings" closer through this series, I've had some realizations. For whatever reason I'm great at answering my bigger callings. I will take on large community projects, donate my time, teach, coach, mentor or contribute in other ways. Yet, what stops me short are the daily promptings. The prompting to offer a homeless person my left-overs, make that phone call to an old friend, or gift the last protein bar in my purse. The small ones, I find easier to argue with.
Regardless, it is all ok to not be perfect, but it is important to be aware.
My friend and mentor, Sandy Hogan, spoke to me about how to best handle missed opportunities when we do not listen to our calling and "wake up one day to realize the bus has left the station and I'm not on it." These are called regrets. The following is her advice on dealing with these regrets.
#1 - "There is a benefit to regret. You won't let it happen again. Disappointment helps the ego to understand the value of your gifts to life." In other words, you are disappointed because you care and value what passed.
#2 - "The clearer you are, the more willing you will be to take the step." As we examine our disappointment, we become more clear what we value.
#3 - "Allow yourself to grieve dreams unfulfilled. Grieving and remorse may also act as a reset and adjust the calling in a more appropriate way that is in alignment with current resources. For example, I could have been a tightrope walker in my 20s. I'm now a tightrope walker between aging and saging in my 60s."
#4 - "Nature never wastes anything if you don't hear the doorbell the fist time, spirit will come around and next time ring it twice. Spirit doesn't give up. We do."
#5 - "Examine your commitment levels." Maybe you were not ready to commit yet. What might you need to say no to in the future, in order to say yes to something greater?
#6 - "To relaunch your hope, answer what is immediate today. See your life as a gift today."
Reflecting on Sandy's wisdom reminds me of how powerful it is to place the mind in allegiance to the heart. Many people live in their head and then wonder why they worry. Well if the answers are in the heart, of course life would feel worrisome, we are looking in the wrong place for our answers.
What is your heart calling you to do?
What will it take to follow it?
As my friend and mentor Sandy puts it, "Develop your hearing-aids". Below, I've captured Sandy's advice and further reflections for our Answering Your True Calling blog.
Sandy's advice on Answering Your True Calling:
"Listening to the small callings is an invitation for hearing the bigger calling. Listening to the small along the way, in day to day life, prepares the path and grows our faith so that by the time the bigger calling shows up we are ready."
"Not all callings are paid. You may feel called to clean up the neighborhood you live in, or start a community garden." You may feel called to pay for the elderly woman's groceries in front of you. Not every calling, is a calling for fame and fortune. The most unfortunate missed callings are the one's that show up daily and are the simplest to fulfill.
"What is at stake by not listening? What is the worse thing that could happen?" What if you took a risk to find out? What if it became an adventure or you became a detective following the clues of your life more closely to see where they lead you? Sandy asks us to reflect further, "How much does your personal comfort prevent you from answering?"
"What if I feel called, but fear it is the wrong number?" Sandy notes this as a common fear and then adds, "First, there is no wrong number. What seems like a dead-end or an off-putting idea, or conflicting ideas ruminating... are all indicative of the true calling that will emerge when it is ready." Again, listening to the promptings you feel now, paves the path for your future.
"To access your calling consider who in life do you admire? Then look at what qualities they embody. You may feel impressed by Maya Angelo, so look at the qualities she embodies. Strive to embody the qualities of Maya Angelo versus trying to measure your life against Maya Angelo. These qualities are a reflection of your calling. Be careful to not be called into a persona. A true calling is authentic to you."
I believe we are all called to something greater. When we don't listen, we feel it. It becomes the empty feeling in the heart. Then we attempt to cover that empty feeling up with ice-cream, TV, other people's ideals, texting, etc. etc.
The question to look at is, "To what is calling me?" To explore this, I invite you to keep a "Calling Journal" for one month.
After asking Sandy last week about the top 10 reasons that people do not follow their calling, I asked her, "What advice do you have to overcome these?"
Sandy said, "Even in the Bible it talks about the time in each boy and girl's life when it is time to give up childhood and cleave to their spouse. This message goes beyond growing up to get married. Metaphorically it alludes to us growing up and maturing through cleaving to something greater than ourselves."
She continued, "What are the conditions in your life that get you to say "yes", "no", or "maybe" to that which is greater than you?" In other words, what is it you need to take that next step to the next chapter?
Below are The 7 Steps To Answering the Call so that if your calling is calling you don't hang up the phone!
#1 - If you are called, the means will show up. This requires trust. Trust in yourself and then extending faith to the bigger picture that is unfolding in front of you. Participation is your choice. Make it a game of "choose your own adventure" and see what happens when you follow it!
#2 - We each have a patch of grass to attend to in our lifetime. Many people get lost in the fear before starting, or give up too soon. Know that you have a patch a grass. Will you tend to it? Or, sometimes we judge other people's mission and avoid our own. Tree huggers are often made fun of. Yet, thank goodness they exist because without them, we wouldn't have clean air. Every person's purpose is unique contribution to the health of the whole system, including yours. This leads to #3.
#3 - If we all attended to our own calling, the world, the planet, work environments and even taxes could all be positive. Humans have sorely overcomplicated human life. We don't need a science report to prove this, we just need to go fill out a tax form. This over-complication need not be. I firmly believe that if we each step into our life purpose we would not be seeing such unnecessary over-complications. Your life's work will be a gift to many.
#4 - Go within so you don't go without. This is a more advanced spiritual key to life. Each of us has an inner guide. It calls us to take that next step, talk to that person, or to do something differently. When we are out of touch with this element of ourselves, we are losing out. In such a fast paced world, many people are disconnected from themselves. Us coaches experience this almost daily. As we provide the space for people to reconnect with their passion and purpose and take concrete steps to bring their gifts to life, they experience their life in a whole new way. Furthermore, the coaching space is often the only time a client may have taken to go within to learn what they are truly capable of. We just aren't taught how to do this growing up. You can start by creating a practice of listening to your intuition.
#5 - The inner-game, leads to outward-gain. When you follow your calling, it is paramount importance to clear the fears. Fear blocks us from possibly. Keep in mind this simple Sufi teaching anytime fear comes knocking. "Fear is only half of a message. It tells us what we do not want. Your heart has the other half of the message - of what you do want." If you feel fear, thank it for what it is telling you that you don't want. You can even create a plan to avoid something negative happening. For example: If I have a keynote speech and I don't want to be laughed at, I'm going to prepare way in advance. Then, the important part. What is it you do want? Identifying this is important. It will enable you to take steps in the right direction.
#6 - Start small. One step at a time. In the rock climbing world, we have a saying, "Start off slow... go, go, go! Start off fast and you just won't last." What is one simple thing you can do to follow what is calling you? Big or small. It need not be a huge feat. It may just be one phone call, or one gift to a stranger. Listen to call ... let it guide you.
#7 - Get mentored. There is no reason to go it alone, or re-invent the wheel. Finding a mentor may feel daunting because we are no longer raised in a society that has elders to guide us as we mature, or to develop our potentials and wisdoms. We now have more olders than elders to be here for us. The good news is that coaching is the next phase in personal evolution, the new elder of our times. In coaching, the coach takes us into learning from our Highest-Self. The you without the fears, defenses or self-doubts. The confident, strong, powerful, wise You. No other modality does this. Seek out a coach, or community mentor, that resonates with you and be amazed how much farther you will get!
By Sandy Hogan
Reflections by Laurel Elders
This last month as been bitter-sweet for me. One of my first coaches, mentors, and our senior faculty at our Institute, Sandy, was diagnosed with cancer.
I've been by her side every-day care-taking and offering advocacy while she is in recovery.
During my time with this truly amazing woman, she has opened up her wisdom to me on answering your calling, to share with you. During my visits with her, she invites me to ask her a question and she then channels her wisdom as I write for her.
#1 - "I am afraid to give up security."
#2 - "Why me? If I can do this, so can anyone."
#3 - "This has already been done before. Why do it again?"
#4 - "Who would pay me for this?"
#5 - "What a ridiculous thought."
#6 - "If (fill in the blanks) were no object, then I would do it."
#7 - "I'm too busy."
#8 - "I don't have the means to make this happen?"
#9 - "How can I sustain my energy if I head in a new direction?"
#10 - "The last time I listened to my heart, I got burned."
Do any of these stop you in your tracks?
Which one has the most grip?
Have you noticed the common thread above? Fear. Worry. Doubt. When we experience a negative emotion, remember that negative connotes "absence of". Something is missing.
What do you need to follow you're calling? What is calling you that you are brushing aside? What will it take for you to face your calling?
For me, it was "I'm too busy." Yet, the truth was, all I needed to do was rework my priorities. And now 7 years later, the school is here. I felt called in 2009. It took me 19 months to answer. 19 months! I argued, doubted, ignored. But the calling wouldn't give up. (read the full story here)
Sandy says, "The good thing is that our calling doesn't give up on us. But, we often give up on it."
Is there any area you've given up? The good news is that it is never too late.
The above are a list of great questions to reflect upon, so that you can get clear and own your life!
Next week we will look at the flip side.. what to do when you feel stuck from following you're calling. For now, reflect on the questions above.
It is 2005. I look over at the man to my left just outside my car, panhandling for food, money or a smile. I feel called to gift him my protein bar. Hey, that is not enabling, he can’t buy booze with it. Then the inner-critic chimes in. "You know he might be a rapist. Or, if you role your window down he could grab you. What if he starts yelling about politics?" The light turns green, I go about my day. That moment tugging at me momentarily, then passing.
Fast-forward to Jan 2009. I’m passing my college campus and get a thought, “Prescott college needs a coaching program.” I think, “Wow, that is so true! Prescott and the world of coaching are transforming lives for the better. They are both empowering, innovative and life changing. I wonder who will do that?”
It is June 2009. I’m passing the college campus again. This time the feeling is strong and a get another prompting. “Prescott really needs a coaching program.” I think, “That is interesting. Ya, I hope they find someone to do that.”
September 2009. Passing the college campus. The feeling is stronger. “Prescott needs a coaching program.” Now I’m thinking, “Ok, why won’t this feeling go away?! Seriously. I don’t have time to start one. I’m sure they may already have started one? Maybe, I’ll call and just plant the seed.”
August 2010: “Hello this is Dr. Woolever.” I hear the voice of the new president at Prescott College on the other end of the line. I respond, “Hi, my name is Laurel. I’m a graduate of Prescott, love your mission. I’m calling because I was wondering if you are interested in starting a Coach Training program?” She says, “Well, that’s interesting. Let’s talk.”
At the end of the conversation she was interested. She put me in touch with Cheryl Schwartz, the Director of Life Long Learning at that time, that housed Prescott’s certification programs.
Here is where it gets interesting!
Not only had Cheryl been wanting to start a coaching program for the very reasons I felt called, but she was also a certified coach and we had both graduated from the same coaching school. Ok, alignment.
Cheryl and I hit it off. The first program successfully launched in 2012!
Fast-forward to September 2019. The program has since branched off into full bloom as the ICF accredited, Institute for Integrative Coach Training and has gained international reach.
I was called. After arguing with my calling, I summoned the courage to follow with faith.
We are called all the time. In the 2005 experience, I exemplified how we disown our heart’s prompting and sometimes on a daily basis. It is not just the larger callings that turn into miracles. It is also the smaller ones that transform lives.
In Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, he writes, “Every blessing ignored, becomes a curse.” A curse, in that we just moved out of sinc with our life and we feel it. We feel it in our anxiety levels, our worries, our internal conflicts and missed opportunities. When we dare to follow our heart, miracles happen.
“Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong.” A Course in Miracles
Furthermore, when do not answer the call, that inner-prompting big or small, it eventually fades. We feel a void. We lack inspiration and fulfillment in our work and relationships.
I’m asking you:
I welcome you to join me on the journey of answering your true calling!
In Service to Your Life Purpose,
Paulette Bodeman, author of The Breakaway Girl, discusses the spiritual perspectives on potential and leaving a legacy with Laurel Elders, Professionally Certified Coach and founder of The Institute for Integrative Coach Training.
Author: Laurel Elders, PCC, CEC
Laurel helps people wake up delighted to be leading the life they've been called to step into. She is a professionally trained and credentialed Integrative Life & Leadership Coach. Laurel's coaching methodologies teach you how to take life's roadblocks and use them as stepping stones through your own wisdom, allowing you to fully lead through your calling!