How to answer your calling…even when things are confusing

coaching mindset May 11, 2020

When my client Raymond first came to see me last fall, he was looking for clarity and direction. He had a good job in the hotel business, but overall, things were shaky. He was worried about his health; he'd had a series of bad relationships, and last but not least, his apartment was a mess.

It was a lot to work on, so we started with one small goal. After talking through some things, Raymond chose something that sounded both doable and meaningful: to clean up his apartment, enough that he could have friends over.

"Great," I said, and decided to take it even deeper. "Why is that important? What will you gain by doing that?" (I often ask my clients to name their Why. Not only does it help motivate them, but also because it can lead to unexpected places. As you'll see, this happened with Raymond…)

"Well," he said, thinking, "I've always wanted to have friends over for a game night, like I used to. But with the disaster area that is my living room, well, that's just not possible."

Now, when Raymond said "game night," I imagined something casual – people sitting around a table playing Trivial Pursuit, or something. But when I heard from him next, I realized he had something bigger in mind.

He had prizes. He had spreadsheets. He had a spin-the-wheel. He had games he'd invented, and a whole schedule for the night's activities. This was way bigger than your average game night.

During a coaching session a couple weeks after his wildly successful game night later, Raymond said he wanted to look for other jobs. So far, he'd applied to a few in customer service, but he said he was open to anything.

"What about party planning?" I said. "Hosting that game night seemed so exciting and so natural to you. What if you were to offer that as a side business?"

Raymond's eyes opened wider. I could tell I'd hit on something. We spent the rest of the hour talking through it – me asking questions like "What if it were easy? What would you do?" and Raymond getting more and more excited about the answers.

That week, he spent every night working on the games he was creating. Soon after, he pitched a dating game he'd invented to a local bar – and they bought it! Another one he'd sold had the possibility of becoming a regular gig. Now he was thinking of ways to expand even further, to pitch to more bars, to make more games.

But then, COVID hit.

Everything shut down (as you probably noticed). Bars and restaurants were his primary clients, so right away, it didn't look good for his business. He had a decision to make: he could dig in and try to continue growing what now felt like an impossible business during quarantine. Or, he could go back to his hometown in Arkansas, where he could take care of his mother, plant a garden, raise animals, and live more self-sufficiently.

Maybe I can go home and still do the gaming business, just on a smaller scale, he thought.

And so he went. He gave up his apartment, packed up his stuff, and headed home.

Initially, he felt good. He had purpose there, and it was quiet, out of the hustle and bustle of urban life. His priorities had shifted, and that was okay.

For a couple of weeks, anyway.

Then, he started to feel restless. Home was nice; but it was getting obvious he wasn't ready to stay. He missed the energy of city life, and he missed his games. I'm not a gardener, he thought to himself. I'm an entertainer.

As if echoing those thoughts, his nephew said to him one day, "You can't give up on your dream!"

He's right, Raymond thought. Gaming is my passion. My business is my passion. And people need fun in their lives now more than ever. I can't give it up.

As soon as he decided to come back, a whole series of "coincidental" events occurred. He found out his landlord had been renovating his old apartment, and he was more than welcome to move back in. His old manager called and said there were more hours if he wanted them, now that things were opening up. Right away, he accepted.

Within just a few weeks, Raymond had left the city and returned. And when he came back, it was with a renewed sense of intention, courage, strength, and confidence. When he'd stepped away from his dream, it had spoken up even louder – like, "Hey you, come back! I'm not done with you!"

Today, Raymond's hard at work expanding his business. And in fact, just last week he texted me to say he got a job as a Virtual Trivia Hosting Master!

Sometimes, you need to go "backwards" to realize what you really want.

Sometimes, walking away from a passion can show you just how powerful it is.

"What you seek is seeking you," wrote Rumi, the thirteenth-century mystic poet. I love stories like Raymond's because they prove that this is true. There's a reason we say your dreams are your calling – because they're calling to you. Even if you walk away, they're going to keep chasing you down until you start chasing them.

Especially during quarantine, when it can be hard to get past the anxiety and the mental clutter, it's so important that we pay attention to our calling. That we answer it. And when things are tough, when we hit a wall, we can answer our calling by listening to our intuition. It will never lead us astray.

How do we do that?

Find some quiet space, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom. Take some deep breath, focusing on each inhale and exhale. When you start to feel centered, ask yourself, What is calling to me?

How will you answer that call?

No matter what's going on in the world or in your home, no matter how stressful things are, your intuition is there to guide you. Listen to it, honor what it's asking you to do.

If you need some extra help finding your purpose or answering your call, I have a couple coaching slots available and would love to work with you. My goal is to help you find your purpose, and then tap into the courage you need to act on it. Reply to this email to set up your first session!

Stay in, stay centered, and shine.

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