Making Your Life Matter

When Abigail Lupi was 10 years old she visited her grandmother at an aged care facility. Shocked by how sad and lonely many of the residents were Abigail gathered a group of friends to sing, dance and act to put on shows for them. This troupe evolved into CareGirlz, a troupe which has brightened the lives of thousands of people since it first began.

A stabbing, which occurred at Granville Boys High School in 2011, inspired Ali Amood, Adam Alahmad and others to do something. They decided to set up a café to foster a sense of community, to feed the kids whose families didn’t have the means to provide them with breakfast. Pulse Café started with a grant of $500, which they used to buy a coffee machine.

Since the inception of the Pulse Café violence at the school has decreased and students are happier and more attentive.

Louise Hay started Hay House Publishing at 62. She started a foundation at 63. She co-wrote You Can Create an Exceptional Life with Cheryl Richardson at age 84. And although she retired from the day-to-day running of Hay House, she was still involved with her business until her death at age 90.

All of these people felt called to do something, and age wasn’t a barrier. We all have a calling, often more than one, that is sometimes easy to overlook because it may seem too ordinary. Whether your calling is something grand, or an activity you engage in that makes you happy, it’s important because it’s your reason for living. There have been many studies carried out over 20 years that show that seniors with a sense of purpose, that gives them a reason to get up and look forward to each day, live longer, are healthier and have less cognitive decline.

The purpose of my life, your life, everyone’s life is to share our gifts. Purpose is rarely something grand, in fact we usually find our life purpose in simple ways we share our gifts every day. Purpose is always about sharing the best parts of us with others and this could be through: acts of kindness, volunteering, teaching, being a role model, sharing and helping others.

Understanding your calling

Your calling is something different, something that your soul calls you to do and this can change at different life stages. A calling is never dependent upon age.

A calling can be a strong impulse to follow a certain path or to take a particular course of action.

Sometimes we think of our calling as a job, and for some people it is, but often it’s something we do every day. Raising children can be some people’s calling. Being a teacher who really helps their students to believe in themselves, may be another calling.

A calling can change at different life stages. Although we are parents for our entire lives, when our children grow up we need to find a new calling. The same applies for people whose work is their calling, once they retire their calling may be to do something different.

My calling was to be a mother, it’s all I ever wanted ever since I was ten years old and it was more important to me than work, money or success. I’ve always said that if I hadn’t had children of my own I would have adopted, fostered or started an orphanage overseas. I always knew that I was meant to be a mother.

I absolutely loved, and still love being a mother, but my children grew up. Along with parenting, my work has been a big part of my calling for the past 20 years. My work is about sharing what I’ve learnt from my own life experiences with others. Even though I am passionate about my work I still felt a little lost when my time as a full-time parent ended, and this is natural but since then I’ve discovered new passions.

I am passionate about helping baby-boomers find meaning in later life. As I may not be able to teach forever, and I want to make as big a difference as possible with my life, I started my non-profit movement, Be the Difference, to encourage more people to get involved in making our world a better place to live.

I am more passionate now than I have ever been even though I am now 71, and I have no doubt that I will find a way to share until the day I die, although I do admit I may slow down a little.

Stay open and willing

To recognise your calling and how to share your gifts you can:

Look at where you are challenged in life, usually challenges present you with opportunities to develop a strength that shows you your purpose.

Ask questions.

Follow your heart, it always takes you to your calling.

Practice being mindful.

Listen to your intuition.

Give as much as possible, that doesn’t have to be money or even time, it can be sharing a smile, visiting an elderly friend, looking for ways to brighten another person’s day.

Imagine reaching the end of your life feeling fulfilled knowing that you have touched and enriched so many lives. That’s what purpose is, it’s about being the best you possible. Your calling is often a way to express your purpose, it helps you to grow to your full potential, it always supports you to evolve.

My favourite quote about purpose, is from Neale Donald Walsch. He says: “Your life has nothing to do with you. It has to do with everyone whose life you touch, and the way in which you touch it.”

Finding Your Calling

We spend a great deal of our lives stumbling around in the dark complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding then something happens that sheds a light, and if we are open and willing, we have an awakening that leads us to our calling.

When I was ten years old I prayed for a baby, even at that young age I knew I was meant to be a mother. If I couldn’t have had children I would have adopted, fostered or even started an orphanage in an impoverished nation. My calling was that strong. As an adult I knew I wanted to write. Initially my desire came from a need for recognition, but I also had a very strong desire to share what I had learnt with others. Now I write in my mind every day. It’s something I love doing and I can’t help but write, and I would continue to write even if no-one read my work.

We don’t just have one calling, we have multiple callings which we are called to act upon at different life stages. A calling can also be called life purpose, or vocation. It is something that your soul is calling you to do and until you follow that calling you may feel dissatisfied, as if there is something missing.

Some people expect that when they discover their calling they will be happy, that everything in their life will work, but that isn’t necessarily so. Knowing your calling is one thing, acting on it is another. When you follow your calling you develop strengths that enable you to share your gifts with others. Along the way there will be lessons to be learnt and fears that need to be faced as well as joy, fulfilment and a feeling that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do. A calling is always about growing to your full potential and it always supports you to evolve.

You are either moving towards or away from your calling

I once worked with a client who had recently retired and she was feeling lost and directionless. This feeling always precedes an awakening. She had a project that she was working on that had the potential to make her a substantial amount of money, the problem was it didn’t fulfil her, and she didn’t really need the money. As we talked I became aware that up until this time in her life most of her happiness had been derived from her achievements, mostly work related. While achievement can be a way of following your heart, it is generally ego driven. There comes a time when, if we are to grow spiritually, we need to leave our egos behind. I encouraged this woman to let go of her need for achievement and to focus on what made her happy in other ways and to build new strengths.

We get signs to awaken all of the time. These come in the form of problems, tragedy, personal crises. Most people miss these signs because they engage in habits that keep them stuck such as, complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding. Life is always guiding you to grow and develop your gifts, if you are willing to take up the challenge.

My first awakening occurred when my son died when he was 5, I was 33. I knew that there was nothing I could do to change what happened so I made a commitment to make a difference with my life, to do what he would have done if he had lived, as well as what I was called to do. I have never regretted that choice – it changed my life.

When we ignore our calling we often feel unhappy, confused, or more stressed. Sometimes our personalities change. For about 20 years I was in love with a beautiful man who had so much potential. As life challenges came his way he blamed, abdicated responsibility and avoided anything he didn’t want to face. He eventually became someone I didn’t even like and didn’t want to spend any time with. It’s unfortunate that I have seen so many people, who I once liked or admired go down this path as well.

If you have been searching for your calling, but still don’t know what it is, ask yourself what are you resisting. We resist our calling when we are afraid. You may still be an ethical, nice person who on the outside seems okay, but if you are observant, you will notice the little changes that are occurring within you. You may not laugh as much, you may struggle with your moods, you may experience health, relationship, work or financial problems. You may have become more cynical or lost your joy.

Finding your calling isn’t something that usually happens overnight, although it can, if you are open. It’s a journey that you can start at any time, you don’t need to wait for a wake up call.

Step 1. Look at the challenges you face, these are signs

By identifying your challenges you can then choose values that will help you grow.

For the past couple of years life has been telling me to value myself, so the value I chose to work with is respect, especially self-respect. Anything I give to myself I always extend to others. Life has also been encouraging me to be patient. As I act upon these values I find I react less, and other people’s moods don’t spoil my day. I am calmer and I know this is who I need to be to spread my message of hope and joy.

A calling is never about getting or achievement, it is always about growing and giving.

Step 2. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a tool that supports us to manage stress. It can also help us identify our needs, what makes us happy and what takes us off track.

Focus on being courageous, willing and accepting and look for ways to actively demonstrate these traits every single day. Ask for guidance as to what you are meant to do. A calling doesn’t have to be around a career, but it will always be around giving. Callings come in all shapes and sizes and can change at different life stages.

On a typical day take three minutes to walk around the room or space that you are in. Do this without any particular goal in mind. Just walk wherever attracts your attention.

When your three minutes is up write down where your mind went during that time.  Did you:

Have thoughts about the past?
Think about the future or jobs you have to do?
Replay a conversation you had with someone?
Focus on how frustrated you feel?
Look for a solution to a problem?
Criticise yourself?

This exercise gives you an idea of where your attention is placed throughout the day and the many different things that distract you from being present. What can you do to ensure that your attention is on things that bring joy to your life?

Step 3. Look for positive way to bring more joy into your daily life

The more joyful you are, the easier it becomes to recognise your individual calling. Actively seek ways to do something that brings joy, it doesn’t matter how simple it is, it is all about how that action makes you feel.

One day you will notice that you didn’t find your calling – your calling found you.