When John and I first brought our twins home from the hospital, I was secretly horrified that the doctors let us take home these tiny baby girls born seven weeks too early. Shouldn’t a responsible grown up be in charge?
We didn’t feel capable but we didn’t have time to wait for our feelings to catch up with our reality. There was too much work to do.
When it comes to finding my calling as a writer, I have made several surprising discoveries similar to how I felt as a new parent.
1. A feeling of competency and arrival may never come.
At first I waited for it, then I thought maybe I got this whole calling thing wrong since I still felt so inadequate. Now, I see this can be a gift if I want it to be. I refuse to wait to feel qualified, certified, or professional.
Instead, I’ve given myself permission to work from a small, curious, and willing place. From here, I watch countless brave strugglers doing the work of art around me and I’m happy to be among them.
2. Embracing my limitations is better than fighting them.
There is a temptation to think if I only had more time, energy, money, or talent then I could finally reach my potential. But I’m learning the importance of listening to my limits to see what they might have to teach me.
Instead of holding me back from what I think I should be doing, perhaps they can lead me forward into the work meant just for me.
3. The work I love and choose is still work.
I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’m living in step with my calling. Still, as much as I love what I do, it helps to remember that it’s still work. The great writers I admire don’t wake up feeling inspired or breathing out sparkly dust of wisdom and talent.
They wake up needing coffee and a shower just like I do. And then they get to work. Often their process looks like a lot of hair twirling, window staring, and procrastinating. But they don’t give up. They persevere through the boredom, the discouragement, and the distractions to create work that matters.
I may admire and learn from others, but I don’t disrespect their work by romanticizing their process. Work we love is still hard work. It helps me to remember that.
This week my friend Jeff Goins released a free ebook on NoiseTrade about finding your calling. He invited 15 people with different voices and perspectives to answer just one question: What’s one surprising lesson you’ve learned about finding your calling?
This post is my answer to that question as well as my contribution to the ebook. When you download it for free, you can read what Seth Godin, Sarah Mae, Joshua Becker, Bob Goff, and several others had to say.
If you are in a season of longing to figure out your own calling, be sure to check out my most recent book on calling and creativity, A Million Little Ways. You might also enjoy Jeff’s newest book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do - coming in March.