In this economy millions of Americans would be grateful to be employed, but there are few people who could really say that it is their job that gets them out of bed every morning. True, we all know people with successful careers, but the happiest of all are those who find their work truly fulfilling. These are the people who have found their calling.

Some might argue that finding your calling is something for the lucky few who are either blessed by circumstance or extraordinarily talented, but I firmly believe that every young person has something inside him or her that is waiting to be tapped. We do not have to be veritable geniuses to give something valuable to the world. By virtue of being unique individuals, we all have special gifts or particular interests that can be transformed into fulfilling work. This may be a remunerated job, unpaid service in the community, or the tremendous task of raising kids. Short of saying that “anything is possible” (I loathe that sort of self-help babble), I do think that every young person should dream big. They may not immediately have all the resources they need, but they have time on their side. With a little systematic work, everyone can at least determine what he or she is called to do in life.

Below is an exercise I’ve designed for participants to work on in my Finding Your Calling workshop, which is also within my Coming of Age program. In the context of a mentoring workshop, I think it would be great if mentors worked with their protégés (“mentees” in mentoring parlance) in answering these questions.


Your calling may or may not change as you grow older, but if you regularly ask yourself these questions—and get the appropriate training and advice—you will keep your dreams in sight and put yourself on the path to attaining them.

Remember: your gift + your joy and/or your passion = your calling.

1. Make a list of all your special talents, skills, and gifts. What are you good at? When you receive a compliment, what is it usually for? What do you do that draws positive attention and admiration from the people around you?

This might be something that is externally obvious, like a talent for singing, but it might also be something less tangible, like a talent for disarming perfect strangers with your charm.

2. Make a list of the things that you enjoy doing. What are your favorite activities? Do you have a favorite place? What do you do when you are there? When do you feel good about yourself? What brings you joy? What is it about these activities that make you happy? [Your answers might overlap a bit with question #1.]

Again, this might not be an obvious activity like cooking or playing video games. It might be something like helping friends by giving them advice or spending time with animals. Do you enjoy going to church? Do you love the spiritual uplift, or being part of a supportive community, or is it the music that gets you there regularly?

3. Make a list of things you feel passionate about. Is there anything you love learning about? What is the one subject someone can bring up that will instantly make you want to talk to him/her? What is your obsession? What do you have strong opinions on? Is there anything you’re willing to fight for? If you could solve a problem what would it be?

A lot of people claim world peace or human rights as their life’s passion, but there is no shame in saying that you are really passionate about a certain type of music or that learning everything you can about cars is what really catches your interest.

4. Now try to connect the dots. What sort of job or industry could put your gift and passion to their best use, and even bring you joy? Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything very specific, if it sounds kind of crazy, or if you aren’t sure if such a job exists.

If you are naturally charming, you might consider working in sales, PR, customer service, or hospitality (the industry will depend on your interests or passion). If you are good at giving advice and you love fashion, you could become a personal shopper or, if you enjoy writing, start blog that gives readers fashion advice. If you are always playing video games and listening to music, maybe you can channel those interests into a career composing music for video games.


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