In 2019’s Academy Award best picture nominee Ford v Ferrari, the character of Carroll Shelby essayed by Matt Damon addresses a crowd with the words,
“When I was 10 years old, Pops said to me, ‘Son, it’s a truly lucky man who knows what he wants to do in this world. Cause that man will never work a day in his life.’ But there are a few, a precious few, and, heck, I don’t know if they’re lucky or not. But there are a few people who find something they have to do.
Something obsesses ’em. Something that if they can’t do it, it’s gonna drive them clean out of their mind.”
Popularized in society and multiple forms of media over the years, the idea of the “One True Calling In Life” can be uplifting and disheartening in equal measure. To those who know what they want, it represents an irresistible finish line. A chance to make their passion a career. Encouragement to work until their dreams are within reach.
To those who don’t, however, it might generate feelings of confusion and inadequacy. A sense of lacking something vital – like an anchor – that makes them less special somehow.
Is there such a thing as a true calling? If so, how does one find it?
One True Calling In Life
It is hard to encapsulate exactly in words what a ‘calling’ is. Stripped to its barest meaning, it is something you enjoy doing, are good at, and find resonant with your core. Those who have found theirs speak almost reverentially of it.
From the utter joy of finding meaning in the work you do and its effect on the world to the flow state that allows you to tirelessly surmount trivialities like fatigue, your calling is essentially the mark you leave upon your corner of the universe. The beauty of such a discovery is that there is no expiration date on when you stumble upon it. It could happen in your 20s, 50s, or even your 70s and beyond!
How Does One Go About Finding One’s True Calling in Life?
It is perhaps the oldest trick in the book – to try and try again until you make a breakthrough. A passion of yours that you believe could blossom into something bigger is a great place to start!
A trusted friend or confidante could also help you discover it. There’s a good chance someone who has known you for a while will be able to pinpoint what exactly comes to you naturally or highlight a facet of your temperament that you were unaware of. A career coach is another excellent option; guiding you with the practical aspects of turning your passion into a profession.
There are caveats to keep in mind: repeated failures might just mean a need to reassess the path you have chosen. It might mean taking chance after chance on new avenues related to your passion until you find one that ticks. What constitutes a meaningful pursuit is eventually up to you to decide.
It helps to remember, however, that despite the near-mythical status of it you could lead a deeply fulfilling life without having ever found one true calling.
Multiple Callings In Life
A riveting Ted Talk in 2015 saw author Emilie Wapnick challenge the necessity of one true calling in life. Describing people she termed “multipotentialites”, Wapnick highlighted how many individuals had multiple interests that they were good at. How then, could they be expected to have one true calling?
If the term jack of all trades applies to you, then you might just have not one, but multiple true callings in life. It is common for such individuals to pursue many different areas of interest, sometimes being equally good at all of them. For them, the idea of one true calling might be too restrictive. The clash arises when society’s expectations or yours being extraordinarily good at one thing conflicts with your inner self.
As much as the dream of having a singular focus on one area of your life has been romanticized, there’s a good chance it will leave you feeling unfulfilled.
How Does One Go About Dealing With Having Multiple Callings in Life?
One of the most sapping prospects for multipotentialites is the idea of having to give up some of the things they know they enjoy and are good at, to pursue one. Instead, adopting strategies to incorporate most (if not all) of their interests into their lives could end up being a far more holistic and beneficial outcome for such individuals.
This could take the form of breaking down a day or week into specific segments where each interest gets its time in the sun. It could mean utilizing your least stressful passion as an outlet for relaxation. It could manifest as spacing out the mastery of a skill over several years or even decades by putting it on the back burner while you’re focusing on your primary occupation.
In the aforementioned Ted Talk, Wapnick also recommends trying to combine interests to create a new intersection where something truly out of the box may emerge. While these suggestions all require significant groundwork, and perhaps the expertise of a career guidance counsellor, the possibilities once you hit your stride are endless.
Whether you’re contemplating finding your one true calling in life or potentially exploring many, the road to meaning is unlikely to be linear. An open mind, a commitment to the effort, and a dash of resilience are all excellent companions to reaching your goal.
As I put the finishing touches on this piece, Everything Everywhere All At Once has just won the Oscar for best picture and director Daniel Kwan has ended his acceptance speech with the perfect footnote to conclude our blog, “There is greatness in every person. You have a genius that’s ready to erupt – you just need to find the right people to unlock that.”
If you are interested in turning your interests or passions into a calling but don’t know how? Reach out to our career counselling experts online for guidance.