7 Practices to Help You Uncover and Follow Your Calling

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” – Douglas Adams

Fresh out of college at 22, I entered the field of social services as a case manager.

With an outlook of youthful idealism, I went into the world ready to help others and make society a better place.

I quickly learned about burnout and how the weight of the human services field will pull you down if you’re not mentally prepared.

For some reason practical skills like resiliency aren’t taught in graduate school, at least where I went.

I came to accept that without further education burnout would be inevitable for me. (Side note: to all of you case managers out there, you make a real difference, but it just wasn’t the career for me.)

So, I went to graduate school and got licensed to practice psychotherapy.

Fast forward to today, and I am a licensed clinical psychotherapist, who happens to also be concentrating on building a career as a drummer and life-coach.

Yes, drummer like Animal from the The Muppet’s, and life-coach like Tony Robbins, minus the fire-walking.

If you would’ve told me I would become a therapist, who pivoted to become a drummer and life-coach, I would like to believe I would’ve said, “Hell YES! That’s sound fucking rad!”

But honestly, I would’ve thought you were crazy.

There was no linear life path to become a life-coach and drummer.

I didn’t even know what a life-coach was, and playing in a punk rock band didn’t seem to have the prestige it did when I was 15 years old.

But somehow, at 32 years old, that’s where I’m at.

It may seem like a random shift in vocation, but really it just took a few years for me to absorb the truth that life is what we make it.

I’m still figuring things out as I go, but here’s what I’ve learned so far that has made all the difference.

1. Model success

There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Think about your dreams. Feel them. Now look around and notice those who are experiencing them. Take to books, the web or in-person interactions. Make a study of the experts.

Pick your models for success.

Travis Barker is my model for an all-around successful drummer; the late and great Scott Dinsmore was one of my blogging and lifestyle idols, and John P. Morgan helps me grasp what it means to be a bold and fearless coach.

Take note of the good and the bad. Adopt the former and drop the latter. What’s left is magic.

2. Question the rules

I got in serious trouble as a youth and learned the hard way what happens when I didn’t follow the rules. I’ve slowly got back in touch with my rebellious side (in a good way), and accepted that nothing magnificent is ever created by following the crowd.

This doesn’t mean you always break the rules, just don’t take the status quo as gospel without doing your own thinking. If someone tells you to get a ‘good’ but meaningless job after college, ask why?

Continue to ask why until you’re satisfied. Then go out and do something you care about.

3. Test limits

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

What limits are you placing on your life? Impossible is only impossible until someone does it. When Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, that limitation was shattered.

Your dreams are going to be bigger than you are, so you have to push the limits. When I decided to take drumming seriously I had a commitment with myself to not give up until I went on a tour. I had my doubts, but guess what happened?

Within the first year of being in a band I went on a national tour. This was partly due to good timing and luck, but it was also achieved because of a willingness to think big and push myself to do something I had never done.

Testing limits and expanding your possibilities is massively transferable. Once one “impossible” thing becomes reality, all kinds of other ‘impossibilities’ seem doable–physically, mentally, and in business.

4. Stop comparing

Society trains us to compare meaningless things like job title, salary, physical appearance and weight. This will drive you crazy.

And I have news. There will always be someone sexier, braver, and wealthier than you. Get over it. All you should care about is like comparison. That can only be done with yourself.

Use others’ progress and achievement to motivate you but don’t get frustrated and give-up if you’re path isn’t the same. Don’t compare oranges to apples; be your own benchmark.

Success is sweeter when you do it your way and on your own terms.

5. Know who you are and give it to the world

“We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, callings.” – Abraham Maslow

When I began the journey of understanding my personal mission, my strengths, values and talents, I was reborn.

Only with this understanding can you have a chance to discover how you’re able to make a difference in the worldI recently created You Have a Calling to help others with this discovery.

If you don’t access your strengths and passions on a regular basis, it’s like trying to sail without wind. You’ll stay afloat but won’t have much velocity. There is an easier and more fulfilling way.

6. Get a coach

Sports are no longer the only acceptable standard for a coach. You may be sick and tired of hearing about “life-coaching,” but investing in a coach, whether it’s for leadership, business, or personal life is one of the most valuable investments you can make. It has been for me.

Coaches help us expand our view of what’s possible. They keep us focused on what’s most important and help us overcome what’s holding us back.

A good coach will help you become a better version of yourself. Find a coach who you connect with and who stands for what you believe in. I have yet to find money better spent.

7. Know what you want

Get ridiculously specific. Get to know your dreams down to the last freckle. What do you want your day-to-day life to be like? Why do you want it?

Don’t worry about how you’ll do it yet, just start getting clear on what really matters and what’s most important to you. If you don’t know what a fulfilling life looks like, then you’ll likely always be striving for more.

True dreams exist on a level closer to reality than you think.

While the above are surely useful in getting clear on your calling, the most important ingredients are desire and hard work.

You’re meant to leave a mark on the world but you have to do what it takes.

Be willing to dream and take courageous action, and your reality can be rewritten.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead