We are happy when we like what we do, and the opposite, it is stressful to find ourselves involved in activities we hardly relate to. Stress negatively impacts our bran, impairing our concentration, memory, decision making, and willpower. We become unable to perform better at work, and, angry at ourselves, we dislike our jobs even more. It’s a vicious cycle. Is there a possibility to avoid getting into it or – if it already happened – to get out? We spend most of our lives’ waking time at work, and we simply cannot afford to waste it on a purposeless, devastating, and unfulfilling career. Here are a few tips to help you listen to your inner self and find a true calling that will fill your life with happiness and meaning.

Detect your flow activities (passions)

When we look at successful people, we may notice that their careers naturally evolved while they were consistent and persevering in their flow activities. As they immersed deeper and deeper in their passions, they attained new knowledge, broadened their network, and mastered new skills. The point is not in emulating someone’s way, but in finding your own. Get ready to do a lot of inner work and answer hard questions. We recommend starting a new notebook for documenting your thoughts or maybe even starting your own free website or a blog. Who knows, perhaps your revelations will help others to discover their right career calling?

  • What was the last time you were so immersed in some activity that you lost the sense of time? Write this activity down.
  • Is there any area where you were actively learning new skills and liked being at a challenge?
  • Have you ever experienced the joy of being fully absorbed by some activity and driven to further involvement (for example, you desired to read more about it, researched it on your own time, talked to other people or experts to learn more)?
  • When doing this inner work (not the sort of questions you answer every day, right?), you may feel that you get to know yourself from another angle.

Record activities where you find meaning

The list you have so far may look quite exciting or even naughty, but not all of these activities actually have to do with real self-actualization. For example, binge-watching Netflix or YouTube is fantastic, but it can hardly be converted into a vocation. Meaning is what makes us happy. We all want to know that what we do means something (today and, in the best scenario, after we die). Only in this case, we are able to evolve, become stronger, desire and achieve more, and turn into the best versions of ourselves.

So write down the activities that make you feel you are living a meaningful life.

Dream about what the best version of you would be doing.

If you knew you had only one day to live, which goals (long-term) would you regret not achieving?

Think about activities that cultivated qualities you are proud of having.

Think of areas where you can find such inner satisfaction and write them down.

Find where your passion overlaps with the meaning

Now it’s time to analyze both lists and notice zones where your flow activities meet meaning and can become a good point of self-actualization. Approach the task optimistically (you can achieve far more than you think if you work hard) but at the same time realistically with all due respect for your obvious mental and physical talents and limitations. For example, if you love creating content and communicating meanings, but speaking up is hard for you, leave your dream about a career in TV journalism, and look closer to writing or other written forms of journalism. And vice versa, if speaking up is a breeze, you can boldly consider becoming a motivational speaker or an educator in a topic that’s hot for you.

Take your time to think about the activities that fill your life with joy and meaning. If you have doubts, ask your closest people to remind you of the situations when they heard you talking about something with enthusiasm and when you were happy doing something. Surround yourself with honest and unbiased people who can support you in your professional journey.