My friend and mentor, Sandy Hogan, spoke to me about how to best handle missed opportunities when we do not listen to our calling and "wake up one day to realize the bus has left the station and I'm not on it." These are called regrets. The following is her advice on dealing with these regrets.
The Steps to Dealing with Regrets
By Sandy Hogan
#1 - "There is a benefit to regret. You won't let it happen again. Disappointment helps the ego to understand the value of your gifts to life." In other words, you are disappointed because you care and value what passed.
#2 - "The clearer you are, the more willing you will be to take the step." As we examine our disappointment, we become more clear what we value.
#3 - "Allow yourself to grieve dreams unfulfilled. Grieving and remorse may also act as a reset and adjust the calling in a more appropriate way that is in alignment with current resources. For example, I could have been a tightrope walker in my 20s. I'm now a tightrope walker between aging and saging in my 60s."
#4 - "Nature never wastes anything if you don't hear the doorbell the fist time, spirit will come around and next time ring it twice. Spirit doesn't give up. We do."
#5 - "Examine your commitment levels." Maybe you were not ready to commit yet. What might you need to say no to in the future, in order to say yes to something greater?
#6 - "To relaunch your hope, answer what is immediate today. See your life as a gift today."
Reflecting on Sandy's wisdom reminds me of how powerful it is to place the mind in allegiance to the heart. Many people live in their head and then wonder why they worry. Well if the answers are in the heart, of course life would feel worrisome, we are looking in the wrong place for our answers.
What is your heart calling you to do?
What will it take to follow it?
We've spent the last two weeks on our calling. We covered the Top 10 Reason's People Don't Answer Their Calling and then The 7 Steps to Answering Your Calling. This week we look at the question: What if I feel called but I'm apprehensive? How do I know I'm truly being called to something greater?
These are questions many of us grapple with. I hope today this exploration sheds light on your truth.
As my friend and mentor Sandy puts it, "Develop your hearing-aids". Below, I've captured Sandy's advice and further reflections for our Answering Your True Calling series.
Sandy's advice on Answering Your True Calling:
"Listening to the small callings is an invitation for hearing the bigger calling. Listening to the small along the way, in day to day life, prepares the path and grows our faith so that by the time the bigger calling shows up we are ready."
"Not all callings are paid. You may feel called to clean up the neighborhood you live in, or start a community garden." You may feel called to pay for the elderly woman's groceries in front of you. Not every calling, is a calling for fame and fortune. The most unfortunate missed callings are the one's that show up daily and are the simplest to fulfill.
"What is at stake by not listening? What is the worse thing that could happen?" What if you took a risk to find out? What if it became an adventure or you became a detective following the clues of your life more closely to see where they lead you? Sandy asks us to reflect further, "How much does your personal comfort prevent you from answering?"
"What if I feel called, but fear it is the wrong number?" Sandy notes this as a common fear and then adds, "First, there is no wrong number. What seems like a dead-end or an off-putting idea, or conflicting ideas ruminating... are all indicative of the true calling that will emerge when it is ready." Again, listening to the promptings you feel now, paves the path for your future.
"To access your calling consider who in life you admire? Then look at what qualities they embody. You may feel impressed by Maya Angelo, so look at the qualities she embodies. Strive to embody the qualities of Maya Angelo versus trying to measure your life against Maya Angelo. These qualities are a reflection of your calling. Be careful to not be called into a persona. A true calling is authentic to you."
I believe we are all called to something greater. When we don't listen, we feel it. It becomes the empty feeling in the heart. Then we attempt to cover that empty feeling up with ice-cream, TV, other people's ideals, texting, etc. etc.
The question to look at is, "To what is calling me?" To explore this, I invite you to keep a "Calling Journal" for one month.
After asking Sandy last week about the top 10 reasons that people do not follow their calling, I asked her, "What advice do you have to overcome these?"
Sandy said, "Even in the Bible it talks about the time in each boy and girl's life when it is time to give up childhood and cleave to their spouse. This message goes beyond growing up to get married. Metaphorically it alludes to us growing up and maturing through cleaving to something greater than ourselves."
She continued, "What are the conditions in your life that get you to say "yes", "no", or "maybe" to that which is greater than you?" In other words, what is it you need to take that next step to the next chapter?
Below are The 7 Steps To Answering the Call so that if your calling is calling you don't hang up the phone!
#1 - If you are called, the means will show up. This requires trust. Trust in yourself and then extending faith to the bigger picture that is unfolding in front of you. Participation is your choice. Make it a game of "choose your own adventure" and see what happens when you follow it!
#2- We each have a patch of grass to attend to in our lifetime. Many people get lost in the fear before starting, or give up too soon. Know that you have a patch a grass. Will you tend to it? Or, sometimes we judge other people's mission and avoid our own. Tree huggers are often made fun of. Yet, thank goodness they exist because without them, we wouldn't have clean air. Every person's purpose is unique contribution to the health of the whole system, including yours. This leads to #3.
#3 - If we all attended to our own calling, the world, the planet, work environments and even taxes could all be positive. Humans have sorely overcomplicated human life. We don't need a science report to prove this, we just need to go fill out a tax form. This over-complication need not be. I firmly believe that if we each step into our life purpose we would not be seeing such unnecessary over-complications. Your life's work will be a gift to many.
#4 - Go within so you don't go without. This is a more advanced spiritual key to life. Each of us has an inner guide. It calls us to take that next step, talk to that person, or to do something differently. When we are out of touch with this element of ourselves, we are losing out. In such a fast paced world, many people are disconnected from themselves. Us coaches experience this almost daily. As we provide the space for people to reconnect with their passion and purpose and take concrete steps to bring their gifts to life, they experience their life in a whole new way. Furthermore, the coaching space is often the only time a client may have taken to go within to learn what they are truly capable of. We just aren't taught how to do this growing up. You can start by creating a practice of listening to your intuition.
#5 - The inner-game, leads to outward-gain. When you follow your calling, it is paramount importance to clear the fears. Fear blocks us from what's possible. Keep in mind this simple Sufi teaching anytime fear comes knocking. "Fear is only half of a message. It tells us what we do not want. Your heart has the other half of the message - of what you do want." If you feel fear, thank it for what it is telling you that you don't want. You can even create a plan to avoid something negative happening. For example: If I have a keynote speech and I don't want to be laughed at, I'm going to prepare way in advance. Then, the important part. What is it you do want? Identifying this is important. It will enable you to take steps in the right direction.
#6 - Start small. One step at a time. In the rock climbing world, we have a saying, "Start off slow... go, go, go! Start off fast and you just won't last." What is one simple thing you can do to follow what is calling you? Big or small. It need not be a huge feat. It may just be one phone call, or one gift to a stranger. Listen to call ... let it guide you.
#7 - Get mentored. There is no reason to go it alone, or re-invent the wheel. Finding a mentor may feel daunting because we are no longer raised in a society that has elders to guide us as we mature, or to develop our potentials and wisdoms. We now have more olders than elders to be here for us. The good news is that coaching is the next phase in personal evolution, the new elder of our times. In coaching, the coach takes us into learning to our Highest-Self; the you without the fears, defenses or self-doubts. The confident, strong, powerful, wise You. No other modality does this. Seek out a coach, or community mentor, that resonates with you and be amazed how much farther you will get!
By Sandy Hogan
Reflections by Laurel Elders
#1 - "I am afraid to give up security."
#2 - "Why me? If I can do this, so can anyone."
#3 - "This has already been done before. Why do it again?"
#4 - "Who would pay me for this?"
#5 - "What a ridiculous thought."
#6 - "If (fill in the blanks) were no object, then I would do it."
#7 - "I'm too busy."
#8 - "I don't have the means to make this happen?"
#9 - "How can I sustain my energy if I head in a new direction?"
#10 - "The last time I listened to my heart, I got burned."
Do any of these stop you in your tracks?
Which one has the most grip?
Have you noticed the common thread above? Fear. Worry. Doubt. When we experience a negative emotion, remember that negative connotes "absence of". Something is missing.
What do you need to follow you're calling? What is calling you that you are brushing aside? What will it take for you to face your calling?
For me, it was "I'm too busy." Yet, the truth was, all I needed to do was rework my priorities. And now 7 years later, the school is here. I felt called in 2009. It took me 19 months to answer. 19 months! I argued, doubted, ignored. But the calling wouldn't give up. (read the full story here)
Sandy says, "The good thing is that our calling doesn't give up on us. But, we often give up on it."
Is there any area you've given up? The good news is that it is never too late.
The above are a list of great questions to reflect upon, so that you can get clear and own your life!
Next week we will look at the flip side.. what to do when you feel stuck from following you're calling. For now, reflect on the questions above.