Life is Calling

Figuring out your calling in life may feel like a daunting task. Even if you have a sense of what that calling may be, crafting your life so that you can follow that calling is easier said than done.

Two years ago, I ventured down this path. I had a sense of what was important to me, but it felt murky and not well-defined, making it difficult for me to identify my path. Today I’ll share what that journey looked like for me.

My Process

There are many resources available to help you identify your calling. I hope readers will share some of their favorites in the comments. In my research, I came across the book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. (Full disclosure, I did not read the book, I only read a summary – two of my favorite book summary resources are Philosopher’s Notes from Heroic and Blinkist).

They describe building out a Life Plan, in which you describe what your ultimate life looks like. While I didn’t end up with the full 8-15 page document they suggested, the process did help crystallize my thinking and point me in the right direction.

Your Legacy

The first question they pose is What will my legacy be? Your vision of your legacy will guide the design of your life plan. How do you do this? You write your eulogy. I’ll admit, this was not an easy process. I’m not as comfortable with death as Marcus Aurelius just yet. The result, however, was powerful for me.

To do this, think through who will be at your funeral. How will those individuals feel? What will they say about you? How do you want to be remembered? I found it helpful to think through a couple of different life spans since the people who would be present will vary depending on how long I live. I also reflected upon my values and validated them. Brené Brown has a great list of values on her website.

Remember, this is how you want to be remembered, not how you think you would be remembered if you passed away tomorrow. Allow yourself the freedom to dream big.

Here are a few excerpts from what I wrote

Josh was a man of integrity. He had many close friends, and they’ll tell you they were comfortable sharing anything with Josh, knowing they could open up to him without judgment or fear he would violate their trust. Josh cherished those relationships with all his heart.

Josh was a man committed to excellence in all aspects of his life. He aspired to the ancient Greek concept of Arete, which he would tell you was virtue, excellence, and happiness all rolled up into one. Eric Joshua Dietrich, we can say with confidence that your cup overflowed with Arete in life.

Legacy Statements

Building upon your eulogy, Hyatt and Harkavy invite you to create Legacy Statements. Identify all the important groups of people in your life and how you want each of those groups of people to remember you. Use specific, emotive language. Here are a few of the statements I crafted (you’ll note I used the term “mentee” here, as I was doing more mentoring than coaching in my current role).

  • I want Kim to remember me as a loving brother who always stayed connected to her and supported her.
  • I want mentees to remember me as someone who helped them learn, grow, and thrive.

Who are the essential people in your life? How do you want them to remember you?

Life Accounts

The second question Hyatt and Harkavy ask is, What is most important to me? They ask you to identify the components that make up your life – from hobbies to your most valued relationships. Typically, they fall into three categories:

  • Being. This includes your intellect, spirituality, and physicality.
  • Relating. The relationships and communities you participate in.
  • Doing. This covers work, finances, hobbies, and pursuits.

They suggest choosing five to twelve that matter most. Here are the ones I identified:

  • Health
  • Integrity
  • Gini
  • Sam
  • Meera
  • Kim
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Friends
  • Financial Security
  • Ellucian
  • Running
  • Coaching

After identifying my life accounts, I organized them in priority order, and then I assessed the health of each one on a five-point scale. Based on the priority and the health, it became clear where I needed to focus my energies to live my best life.

I found this aspect so valuable, I’ve assessed my life accounts every week since. Some have changed, and new ones have been added as I reflect periodically.

Taking Action

With this in place, the third question is How will I get from where I am to the ending I’ve imagined? In the book, they suggest the following steps:

  • For each life account, write a statement defining your primary responsibility.
  • Given that responsibility, craft a statement describing how the life account would flourish under your care.
  • Assess how close you are to reaching that aspirational statement
  • Create an action plan for each one.

Some of these statements have become declarations I recite each morning as part of my mindfulness practice. For example:

  • Meera and Sam feel connected, supported, and loved. I help them flourish.
  • I am fulfilled, I serve, and I flourish through coaching.

There is more to how I turned this plan into action; I’ll save that for a future blog post.

The Result

That exercise in Fall 2020 ultimately led me to realize that coaching is my calling in life. The action plan I created expected I was still 3-5 years from launching my practice. However, setting that plan in motion was enough to accelerate things. By May 2021, I had established a side business and quickly realized I couldn’t wait that long to make this my day job. It took some reassurance from my financial planner (remember that Financial Security life account) to build up the courage to launch my practice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you want to identify your calling in life, I encourage you to set aside a whole day for this process. And don’t underestimate the value a coach can provide to support your journey.

Schedule time with Josh.

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