Using Hindsight to Discern Your Life’s Calling

Eye ChartFor the past several years, my optometrist has begun my annual exam by peering at my chart and asking, “You’re how old now?” My nearsightedness has required corrective lenses since I was in fourth grade, but in my early 40s, my vision up-close remains 20/20. Each year, he warns that it’s only a matter of time until I require reading glasses to see the fine print.

Ironic, isn’t it, that as our visual acuity diminishes with age, our living acuity–our horse sense–sharpens. With age, comes wisdom, so they say. It’s only in looking back, with the benefit of that proverbial 20/20 hindsight that I can see with clarity what I struggled so long to discover – the kind of work to which I was called.

As a child, I dreaded the frequent inquiry of adults attempting to make small talk: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” By college it had morphed into “What’s your major?” Either way my answer was the same. “Uh, I’m not sure.”

Pressured to declare a major in my junior year of college, I availed myself of the university’s career counseling services. Armed with a No. 2 pencil, I colored in endless pages of small circles with faith that at the end, like a fortune-telling machine, the standardized test would spit out the elusive answer I yearned to discover: my vocational path.

I sat eagerly behind the counselor’s desk, awaiting the results. In an uncertain voice, she said something along the lines of “You’d probably be a good mother.”

Well, the jury’s still out on that one. I’m unsure how much therapy the little people in my care may later require. The quality of my current parenting aside, I was nonplussed by the result. Yes, I hoped to be a good mother, and it is the most important, rewarding, and difficult vocation I’ll ever have. It was not, however, why I had visited the career counselor.

In the end, I thought about the things I liked: music, books, movies, and decided communications would be as good a major as any. Over the years, my interests have coalesced, and as I look back it seems obvious to the point of ridiculous that I couldn’t figure out which path to take.

What do you want to be when you grow up?As I threw together a welcome for my website last week, I wove together the threads that culminated in where I am today, awaiting the publication of my first novel. Spelling bees and books, newspapers and languages, calligraphy and handwriting analysis. My love for words permeated my interests.

I’m grateful to have discovered work that challenges me, enlivens me, and fulfills me. A vocation. I know, for some, it’s an ongoing struggle. My husband has worked diligently and faithfully to support our family for many years without finding that thing that clicks with him. That thing that makes work less work.

So, how do you find that elusive “thing” to which you’re called? You can find some tips for what works here and all over the web. Or you can try the horse sense/hindsight cocktail that worked for me.

  • Are you where you’re called to be?
  • If so, how did you get there?
  • Did you know in kindergarten what you wanted to do or did it come later or not at all?

5 thoughts on “Using Hindsight to Discern Your Life’s Calling

  1. Yes, I am, actually, where I want to be now. I’m 39 and in my 4th career! It took experimentation, introspection, and education. One great career test said I would be a good ski instructor. Of course, I can’t ski, can’t even run without injuring myself, and I hate the cold…
    In kindergarten I had no clue. I’m a life coach/healer/spiritual counselor. When I was 6 I couldn’t help myself, much less anyone else! 🙂

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