There is Life After College: A must- read for all!

life after college
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My library hold on There is Life After College by Jeffrey Selingo right after my last blog post. Wow, what perfect timing! You should put it on hold too. Why? Whether you’re a parent, teacher, counselor, student, professor or new graduate, there will be something here for you. A college coach recommended this book in her seminar at my Birkman conference. Selingo identifies three common paths for students: the Sprinters, Wanderers and Stragglers and I found it fascinating that this coach has found markers in the Birkman reports that predict which path students are likely to take.

But that’s not really the point today. The point is this book has information and advice you probably need. You might be a parent frustrated with your kid’s “failure to launch.” Read this book. You might be a graduating high school senior who is unsure about the next step. Read this book. You might be a college administrator trying to figure out what other classes or opportunities the students needs to “succeed.” Read this book.

Life After College

Selingo helpfully describes the current post-college challenges in our economy. Parents, it’s not all your kid. The system has issues too! He provides tons of concrete tips for students on how best to navigate college and understand how employers hire. He discusses internships, alternative learning avenues and hands-on experiences. It’s all the stuff we don’t tend to think about when we’re just starting college. How employers hire and what they’re really looking for.

This kind of book really resonates with me because it asks us to take a good hard look at all our assumptions. So often we live like lemmings just being funneled through the system because that’s just easier. As a result, we don’t stop to ask why we’re doing what we’re doing and if it’s really the best route. He clarifies how our ingrained patterns of doing college and looking for jobs aren’t really serving us anymore. Selingo jolts us out of our rut and helps us do some needed re-evaluation at the macro level. I love this because it’s similar to what I’m trying to do at the micro level with individual students and their families as they figure out their college and career direction.

Have you read it? What were your takeaways?

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How to figure out what you really value

core value exercise
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The other day I was leafing through some of my old workshop materials in preparation for my October seminar and I found a “Values” exercise. You might have done one of these before, where you look through a list of words like “Peace, Success, Wisdom, Integrity, Wealth, Time, Fame, Justice” etc etc. and you’re supposed to whittle them down to your top five values (here’s an example or this one). These top five values should then help give you direction in your big decisions. You’re supposed to remember them well enough to live your life intentionally aligned with them.

I look at it now and I think this exercise is flawed. It’s all well and good to think about what we value . . . but I think most of the time, we’ll end up choosing the words we simply like best (hey, these all sound good!). Of course most of these things we want to value. Maybe there’s no harm in that. Maybe it works as a list of values you aspire to.

To get a more accurate assessment of our top five values I think we need to be a little more realistic. My guess would be that if you briefly outlined where you spent your time every day for a week, you would see your top five values quite clearly. If not, maybe your spouse, roommate, sibling or parent could help you out.

I’m guessing this second list based on how we spend our time won’t be quite as noble-sounding as the first list but it will probably be a better starting place for understanding who we are.

For example, if you spend every evening watching shows and are always excited about finding a new series to watch, you value entertainment and relaxation. Which is great. I definitely value those things. I just think they wouldn’t necessarily show up if you asked me to pick my top five values out of a list. I don’t see myself as someone who sits in front of the TV every evening but the reality is that I do spend an hour most nights watching something.

Now, if you spend 80 hours a week at a job you hate, you might be thinking your time doesn’t really show what you value. Maybe not, but maybe it does. Maybe you simply value security or approval from your superiors more than you realize. Change is hard. Risk is well . . . very risky! Maybe you value loyalty so highly, it makes it hard for you to leave no matter how toxic the situation. If it’s paying you more than you could make in a job you would enjoy, maybe you’re staying because you value money or status more than you think.

So here’s an idea for a twist on this exercise: Do the first one where you pick them out of a list. Then spend a few days observing your daily schedule. Make the second list based on what your use of time says you value. Then compare them. Even better, compare them with someone who knows you well and can give you perspective.

  • Do they align?
  • Where are the discrepancies?
  • Are there steps you can take to move your second list into agreement with your first?
  • Is that even necessary?

Let me know what you discover! I’ll test it out myself over the next few days and let you know in the comments what I come up with.

Decision-Making and the Will of God

Decision Making and the Will of God Today, I’m doing one of my favourite kinds of posts: a book review. It’s helping me ease back into the practice of blogging – I’m feeling rusty. Plus, I really want you to know about this book because I loved it! It’s called Decision-Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson. I don’t know how it hadn’t crossed my path yet as it’s somewhat of a classic (I read the 25th Anniversary edition). Thankfully, it was recommended to me recently and now I get to recommend it to you!

Decision-making can be extremely stressful. Who hasn’t felt the pressure of making a good decision? Especially about BIG items like what to do with your life or who to marry. If those are questions you’re struggling with, this book is an excellent aide in helping you understand a biblical model for making decisions.

In Part 1 & 2, Friesen critiques what he calls the traditional view of decision-making. He defines it like this:

  • Premise: For each of our decisions, God has a perfect plan or will. 
  • Purpose: The goal of the believer is to discover God’s individual will and make decisions in accordance with it. 
  • Process: The believer interprets inner impressions and outward signs, which the Holy Spirit uses to communicate God’s individual will.
  • Proof: The confirmation that one has correctly discerned the individual will of God comes from an inner sense of peace and outward (successful) results of the decision. 

I really appreciated how well he articulated these points – most of us haven’t articulated our thoughts around decision-making this clearly and once they are stated this way, you immediately start to see the flaws in them. Friesen thoroughly annihilates this position with verse-by-verse commentary. This was very helpful for me as I have always had issues with this view of decision-making but wasn’t necessarily able to put a finger on what bothered me, much less provide evidence for why there was a problem.

Part 3 explains the alternative model to the “traditional” view that Friesen proposes. He calls it “The way of wisdom” and exhaustively backs up the principles (see below) with scriptural examples.

  1. Where God commands, we must obey. 
  2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose. 
  3. Where there is no comman, God gives us wisdom to choose. 
  4. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good. 

After that, it just keeps getting better. In Part 4, Friesen does us all a huge favor and provides chapters discussing what it looks like to make wise decisions in major areas of our lives like marriage, ministry, missions and giving. He takes the model from the abstract to the concrete with very practical examples.

I especially appreciated the chapters on “Wisdom When Christians Differ” and “Weaker Brothers, Pharisees, and Servants.” He stresses the importance of taking the time to “cultivate your own convictions” in areas of freedom that are often up for debate.

Even the appendices have lots to offer: He reviews other books on decision-making and God’s will, provides some practical tools for memorizing Scripture and explains how to hold “Bible Marathons” where you read large chunks of the Bible in one sitting.

At 526 pages, it’s a thick book so it might feel too intimidating to open. Trust me, it’s very easy to read and even if you don’t have time to read it all, going through all of the concise, logical, bullet-point summaries will still give you plenty to consider.

Have you read Decision-Making and the Will of God? What did you think?

Calling in The Voice

The VoiceJohn and I have been enjoying watching “The Voice” together this season. We had never watched it before but for some reason the set-up for this reality show is more engaging than other singing shows. It’s a little less cutthroat-feeling and it’s fun to see the coaches argue with each other. It’s also interesting hearing people talk about their dreams.

In the course of the show, the contestants give mini-interviews and many of them speak about getting confirmation of their “callings” when they’re picked for the next rounds. Initially the choices are up to the coaches and then it becomes an audience voting system as the show progresses.

This gives me pause. I wonder how all the pieces really go together. Talent. Calling. Recognition, “making my dreams come true” “showing America who I am” etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great way for these people to get onto the career paths they’re looking for and affirmation of our talents is something all of us look for . . . but what happens when the validation stops? When America stops voting for you?

If voting validates your calling, what happens when the next vote sends you home?

There’s a tricky balance to handling the input we get about what we’re doing with our lives. Sometimes, its essential to hear the message from those around us because we’re deluding ourselves. Other times, we have to ignore outside opinion to continue forging ahead. We have to be careful who we lean on because I think it’s possible to have callings that no one else validates for us. Or maybe not in such a definitive way. If we wait for cues from others to move forward, we risk missing out on our callings. Knowing who you are and trusting yourself is crucial. At the same time, we can really be blind and needed wise advisers who can speak truth to us.

I see I’m back to the balance theme. Wow, I feel like that happens to me all the time (see my Nuance post?)

The contestants left on The Voice are all extremely talented people. They definitely have vocal gifts. There aren’t delusions about talent at least. But I wonder if there is still blindness about what following the music dream is supposed to look like. Should they all get record deals and start down the path of touring and concerts? Maybe but maybe not. Are they all called to serve with their voices? Probably . . . but the way those callings play out may look very different than winning The Voice – in fact for most of them it will have to look different – there is only one winner after all. Their career as artists may not follow the “path of success” they think they need to be on in order to fulfill their callings. I hope they realize that when America likes someone else a little more in the next round of voting.

So what’s our takeaway since most of us don’t have superstar singing skills we’re currently displaying on a TV show? Well, I think it’s just good to think about where we’re looking for validation. What are the things you think should happen for you to feel affirmed/confirmed in your calling? Who are the people you think should do that for you? Are they the right people? Is the affirmation or confirmation from others truly necessary? Is it possible that you’re already pre-approved by the very Person who gave you your gifts in the first place and wants you to steward them for his glory?

Working Identity Book Review

Working Identity by Herminia IbarraI just sped through Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra because it’s due back at the library today and I can’t renew it. Ahh – the pressure of library due dates. I know technically I could just ignore them and hold onto books for another week without incurring any fees or punishment but out of respect to my librarian mother I just can’t bring myself to bend rules like that. So I live under the constant pressure of which book is due when. I really should start controlling myself when it comes to how many holds I place at a time. Inevitably I find 3-4 books all waiting for me at once, all non-renewable because another 50 people after me want them. Talk about the woes of a bookworm.

Anyway – this book had some gems and while it focuses on the process of midlife career transitions, there was a lot of connection and crossover between two other books I hope to be blogging about soon, The Gifts of Imperfection and Transforming Conversion. While its intention was to describe how people move from one “working identity” to the next, it seemed highly applicable to personal growth and the process of coming to faith.

Ibarra’s work focuses on people who realize they are no longer satisfied in their chosen careers:

When the question “Who am I?” reasserts itself long after we thought we’d figured it all out, it is usually motivated, at least in part, by some form of what academics call “disconfirmation” – a tangible sense that our earlier ways of understanding ourselves and the world have failed us or that fundamental assumptions about who we are are no longer as sturdy or satisfying (p. 35).

Ibarra argues that rather than spending a lot of time on introspection, assessments, theories and plans, we should begin a series of small experiments designed to test out the variety of directions we’re interested in, “Adults are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking than to think their way into a new way of acting” (p.2).

While we often want to have a clear path laid out for us before we begin the process of change, Ibarra concludes that, “Transformation, then, happens less by grand design or careful strategy than by the small wins that results from ongoing practices that enhance our capacity to change” (p. 87) and goes on to warn us that, “When we craft experiments, we increase the likelihood that things will never be the same again” (p. 106).

This advice resonated with me as I think we often get stuck in the thinking/planning process and forget to ever actually move forward towards our distant goals. The series of small experiments is exactly what I suggest for people who are trying to “find their calling” but have so many interests they’re not really sure which they’re most passionate about. The only way to find out where your calling lies is to start doing things and see what fits best. Connections happen in motion. Her warning is also important though because we sometimes don’t realize that once we’ve started down this road of exploration, we won’t easily settle back into the old patterns, jobs and lives we had before we started looking around. It can get messy.

Taking action and being aware of the likely consequences is essential. At the same time, we definitely need time and space to step back and reflect on our experiences and evaluate what they mean. Ibarra uses a French phrase “reculer pour mieux sauter” which literally means “stepping back to better leap forward” (p. 148). That step back helps us to ground ourselves, look around and make sure we are leaping in the right direction.

Here’s her summary of advice for making career transitions (and I would argue any major life changes!):

  1. Act your way into a new way of thinking and being. You cannot discover yourself by introspection.
  2. Stop trying to find your one true self. Focus your attention on which of your many possible selves you want to test and learn more about.
  3. Allow yourself a transition period in which it is okay to oscillate between holding on and letting go. Better to live the contradictions than to come to a premature resolution.
  4. Resist the temptation to start by making a big decision that will change everything in one fell swoop. Use a strategy of small wins, in which incremental gains lead you to more profound changes in the basic assumptions that define your work and life. Accept the crooked path.
  5. Identify projects that can help you get a feel for a new line of work or style of working. Try to do these as extracurricular activities or parallel paths so that you can experiment seriously without making a commitment.
  6. Don’t just focus on the work. Find people who are what you want to be and who can provide support for the transition. But don’t expect to find them in your same old social circles.
  7. Don’t wait for a cataclysmic moment when the truth is revealed. Use everyday occurrences to find meaning in the changes you are going through. Practice telling and retelling your story. Over time, it will clarify.
  8. Step back. But not for too long.
  9. Change happens in bursts and starts. There are time when you are open to big change and times when you are not. Seize opportunities.

These points sound simple and succinct but Ibarra notes that most major career transitions take between three to five years and the process is circuitous. She reminds us not to get too frustrated with the messiness of life in progress.

Have you struggled through a career transition experience or any time in your life that felt like you were living in limbo between who you were and who you were becoming? I’d love to hear your story. Did you use any of these strategies or wish you had?

 

 

What is the Birkman Method?

Maybe you popped over to the website when I first mentioned I was becoming a Certified Birkman Consultant but maybe you didn’t. I wanted to just give you a brief overview of the Birkman Method today because it will probably take me awhile to get my website updated to include all the services I am so excited to offer.

Birkman MethodWhat is the Birkman Method?

The Birkman Method is a behavioral assessment (not a personality test) that simply shows you what you do. What makes it unique is that this assessment shows you:

  • Your usual behavior (your positive style/your visible strengths)
  • Your motivational needs (which can be quite different than your usual style and may be invisible to others) and
  • Your likely stress behaviors when your needs remain unmet

Personality tests and other assessments tend to stop at the first one: they describe you and that’s it. Maybe they describe a few of your potentially negative stress behaviors as well but they’re missing a key piece of the puzzle: what your actual needs are.

This kind of information is extremely valuable for your own self-awareness, for your personal relationships and for finding your ideal work environment. The Birkman Method can give you neutral language to discuss areas of conflict and differences of style with your spouse, child, manager, colleagues or teammates. Without judgment, the reports give you information about how to get the help you need to operate mostly out of your strengths (usual behavior) and minimize and manage your stress behaviors.

I often find it just as helpful to understand what an assessment does not promise to do.

The Birkman Method WILL NOT:

  • Tell you WHY you behave the way you do
  • Make a clinical diagnosis
  • Measure emotional maturity or mental health

This tool has been around for 60+ years and was developed by a former WWII Bomber pilot named Roger Birkman. He’s 94 years old and apparently was still coming into the office until just a few months ago! The assessment has an 94-96% accuracy level for validity and reliability of the results and the company has ongoing longevity studies that show your results are unlikely to change much over time (barring highly traumatic experiences). That means you really only need to take it once. I took it for the first time at 17 or 18 years old (about the youngest recommended age for taking it) and I still find my results are a very accurate reflection of what I do.

What do I want to do with it?

As you might guess, I love the Birkman Method for its insight into motivational needs, occupational interests and the level of self-awareness it can bring to your relationships and work. I am picturing using this method and the wide variety of reports it delivers with:

  • College students wondering what to do with their lives
  • Engaged or married couples who would like some extra tools for building a great relationship
  • Teams that need or want a boost reaching their potential in working together
  • Managers and employees who want or need to improve communication and working relationships
  • Anyone working through career frustration and transition

I see this tool as providing a safe space for helping people address behavioral differences neutrally and also break down some of the generational, cultural and gender stereotypes we often run up against. In an interview with Dr. Birkman, he summarized his desire for the Birkman Method as a way for people to learn to accept and love themselves, see God’s love and purpose in how he made them, and then celebrate the diversity and potential in everybody else they meet (you can watch that interview on youtube – warning: it made me tear up in a couple spots).

How do you take it?

Contact me! Right now, you can just shoot me an email if you’re interested in taking this (or use the contact button above). We can discuss cost (I’m still figuring out all the pricing options!) and then it’s as easy as sending you a link to a questionnaire and scheduling a feedback session (in person, over the phone or on skype) to review and discuss your reports. The questionnaire takes about 45 minutes if I remember correctly and provides you with a hefty report (seriously, people we’re talking 50+ pages of different report options).

Soon, I will hopefully have a link to the questionnaire right on the website and have an info page with the different options available.

UPDATE 6/11/15: If you’re ready to get your Birkman report, here are your choices!

  • Sale On!
  • Sale On!
  • Sale On!

 

 

College & Calling

I was recently reading through a great blog post series over here where people write to their younger selves in the spirit of “if I had my life to live over this is what I would want you to know.”

I was also recently thinking that it is already mid-August and school is about to start again.

These two things got me thinking about college and calling and what I would do differently if I was back at Trinity Western University, excitedly starting the college adventure (which I can hardly believe was way back in 2003! That’s almost 10 years people! Yikes!).

I had a great experience at TWU. I started as a Communications major and switched to a Business major by second semester. I lived on campus all four years. I made lifelong friends and met my husband. I participated in student leadership as a Resident Assistant, Community Facilitator and Discipleship Group Leader. Through all of these roles, I was mentored, stretched to grow, given an avenue to hone my  skills and use my gifts. I’m not saying I regret my experience.

But . . . looking back now, I think I would still do a few things differently. If I could go back and give my 17-year-old self some advice I would tell her . . . not go to college right away. (What?! And miss out on all the fun that is freshman year? Crazy, I know . . . )

Why?

  • Because I took a lot of classes that bored me and I haven’t really used (Economics – that was you).
  • Because I graduated with $17,000 in student loan debt and spent the first year of working paying that off.
  • Because some of the classes I could have really used, I was too intimidated to take, or didn’t know I would need (Hello, Philosophy).
  • Because now that I understand what motivated learning looks like I realize how much more I could have gotten out of college
I’ve unfortunately often said that all the valuable learning I did in college took place outside the classroom. College is such an awesome time of concentrated learning and I wish now I could have just enjoyed more of it. I wouldn’t trade my community life experience for the world but I wish that I had gotten more out of my classes, especially since they were so expensive. I can’t go into all my reasoning on this right now, but over the last few years I have come to the conclusion that a Business Administration degree is pretty much useless. While it felt “practical” at the time, I wish I could have let myself be the English major I probably should have been. And I wish that I had taken more of the Religious studies and Philosophy classes because when it comes to making decisions about the big questions in life, a business degree doesn’t equip you with the answers.

In the last two years, I have enjoyed researching this topic of calling on my own time, out of my own desire to learn. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on the topic because I think it’s important and I really care about understanding what it means for my life. I think many us don’t truly know where our interests lie or what our gifts are when we’ve just finished high school. We panic about picking a major but our lives don’t fit into just one subject area so neatly (I won’t take that tangent about changing the education system right now either).

What would I suggest to myself?

  • Working & going to a community college so that I could have paid for college as I went.
  • Taking any class I was interested in, in any subject whether it seemed practical or not.
  • Forcing myself to take a few classes that didn’t seem interesting at all, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out because of false perceptions.
  • Going on a million-and-one informational interviews or job-shadows in a wide variety of industries.

Mostly, I wish I could have told myself to relax and just enjoy learning for its own sake, instead of worrying about my major or minor and my grades. Then maybe my college experience would have been as beneficial to me inside the classroom as outside of it.

Some Olympics-inspired Musings

I’ve been watching bits of the Olympics all week. The athlete profiles that NBC so irritatingly produces (seriously, people – I just want to watch the events uninterrupted – is that too much to ask?) all follow the same storyline. An athlete dedicates four years (or a lifetime) to training for this moment to prove their ability and win a medal. Sometimes they choke and the story ends in tears. Other times the story ends in victory. The flag flies, the anthem is sung, he or she ascends the podium and receives the highest reward . . .

But what I keep thinking about this week is: What happens the moment you step off the podium?

Suddenly, it’s all over. You’ve reached the pinnacle. You’ve perfected your performance. You’ve achieved your personal best and been affirmed by a world-wide audience. For one moment, millions of viewers know your name and what you’ve accomplished.

And then you go home. Not all Olympic athletes retire, obviously. Plenty of them take a break and then gear up for the next competitions, but for many, everything they’ve worked for in the last few years is suddenly gone. If this is suddenly sounding sad, it’s because it is. Just a few days ago, Bloomberg Business Week published an article talking about the risks of depression and substance abuse many athletes face when they retire. Life is suddenly a little too empty.

It makes me wonder, if sometimes we make our goals more important than they should be?  If achieving a certain goal consumes someone’s entire life, should we admire the strength of focus, the sacrifices, the dedication, or should we worry about the loss of perspective on life?

The article shows how so much training can be compared to heroin addiction and ends with a zinger, “Being an elite athlete is actually not that good for your health.” Does that mean we never pursue difficult goals that stretch us to our limits? Does it mean we should never seek to achieve all that we’re capable of doing? No. But I think it’s something we need to be aware of when we set out on journeys like this. Do we have something to hold onto, after the big moment? Can we maintain a sense of personal worth and identity without the training or the title?

Maybe this doesn’t feel super applicable to our normal non-elite-athlete lives, but I think most of us have had “after party blues” and those feelings of being let down after a high of accomplishment. What do you do to ground yourself again after moments like that?

Calling Catalysts

In Kevan and Kay Marie Brennfleck’s book Live Your Calling, they categorize different callings by the catalyst that sparks someone’s journey. If you’re unsure of how to find your calling, it might help you to look at calling in these different ways.

Some callings are:

Need Driven. This means you see a need and feel inspired to meet it. Many non-profit organizations and community initiatives fit this description. Founder’s stories usually describe how they saw a desperate need that wasn’t being addressed and decided they had to do something about it. So many different organizations exist, doing everything from providing clean water, distributing vaccines and facilitating growth through micro-loans.

Design Driven. Design driven callings come from picturing possibilities and looking for opportunities to use your gifts and talents. As you explore your unique design, your motivations and interests, you begin to see where your calling is leading you. A great example of a design driven calling in action would be Chris Guillebeau. He writes The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris has built a life around what he feels he’s designed to do. He travels and writes, inspiring others with his stories and providing useful information and online guides to others about living as an entrepreneur and traveling around the world on a small budget.

Experience Driven. Many people feel called to help others with an experience they’ve been through themselves. Experience driven callings include comforting others in similar tragedies, providing the wisdom of experience so that others can avoid mistake you’ve made or acting as a companion to those who are fighting the same battles. I went to school with Michael and Bonnie Lang. Soon after they were married, Michael was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Their experience battling cancer led them to start hosting wilderness expeditions for other young adult cancer survivors. This eventually became a movie and a cross-country tour to raise awareness about young people and cancer.

If you’re trying to figure out your calling, it might be good to think through what needs in your neighbourhood really tug at you, what possibilities you’re always contemplating or what life experiences you’ve been through that make you want to help others in the same situation.

 

Calling: Spiritual Energy

This is the final post in the mini-series on The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. You can read the first three here, here and here.

The fourth dimension to energy is spiritual and, in my mind, spiritual energy and a sense of calling are almost the same thing. When the authors write that spiritual energy “is the most powerful source of our motivation, perseverance and direction” I could say the same thing about having a calling.

Motivation

Spiritual energy drives how we use our physical, mental and emotional energy. Calling is what motivates us to put our energy to good use. Some of you reading the last few posts may have been thinking that you don’t have enough physical, mental and emotional energy to follow a calling. You may feel like you need to build up those reserves first, but the authors explain that often it is spiritual energy that helps us overcome “even severe limitations of physical energy.” They talk about how Christopher Reeves wasn’t sure he wanted to live after his accident left him paralyzed. Recognizing a purpose in his circumstances allowed him to overcome physical, mental and emotional hurdles that he wouldn’t otherwise have chosen to face.

Perseverance

The authors write that main muscle we need to develop in order to increase our spiritual energy is character, because living life purposefully will require, “the courage and conviction to live by our values, even when doing so requires personal sacrifice and hardship.” Callings motivate us to persevere through trials. Sometimes I think one good sign that someone is on the right track in following a call is that they have a realistic perception of the endurance it will require. This factor makes calling very different from dreams and ambitions that we drop in disappointment when they turn out to be  more difficult that we expected. When people embark on the path of calling, they know they’re in it for a long haul and they’re willing to do what it takes.

Direction

Callings motivate us to pursue a certain course. We get a sense of the direction we’re supposed to pursue and begin to understand what we’ll need to do to get there. To build our spiritual energy, we practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, study and many others. Spiritual disciplines resemble physical training – usual it isn’t easy to develop the habit, the exercises can be difficult and require a lot of effort on our part, but the results are worth it. And, kind of like a “runner’s high”, spiritual practices, “can be renewing and demanding at the same time.” I think this happens because we have a sense of direction and purpose in the work we’re doing. Training for a marathon gives us a better sense of direction in our exercise than simply trying to take up jogging. In a similar way, it helps me to frame spiritual disciplines as training for effectiveness in my calling.

And lastly, the authors remind us once again that in all of this, balance is key, “Spiritual energy is sustained by balancing commitment to others with adequate self-care.” It’s important to understand what is spiritually renewing for you in the midst of daily life so you don’t completely drain yourself of spiritual energy and the motivation, perseverance and direction that come along with it.