In the first half of life, we ask the question “Who should I be?” and look to parents, teachers, and society for the answer and for directives on how to achieve it.
We spend over three decades scanning our external world for clues about the appropriate steps that would support our mission to be on the right course. In the process, we develop competencies and skills, as well as a keener sense of how to present ourselves in the world beyond our immediate family.
There is often a sense of achievement and realized success from this effort to be all we can be–even if it may be according to someone else’s expectation of us.
Just when our lives seem to be working well, and according to plan, along comes midlife to dash our glib sense of comfort with our achievements and ourselves.
For some of us, the drop in satisfaction with what seemed to be a good life seems to happen overnight. For others, it’s a more gradual, but steady decline.
In any case, a growing awareness of the passing of time and an increased sense of our own mortality, each contribute to the shift in perspective on our lives and an increased interest in our life’s purpose.
The definitive question of the first half of life positioned us to explore an array of external directives. A new and compelling question emerges in life’s second half and challenges us to look inwardly this time for the answer.
“Who am I meant to be”? surfaces without explicit expectations or a clearly defined path. Rather, the question invites us to listen to our inner wisdom for hints about our calling.
Author and artist, Marjorie Zoet Bankson, offered her wisdom on the “Cycle of Call” at an afternoon presentation for Movable Feast last October. She suggested that the call takes a spiral path and is illuminated at various times in our lives through four questions that prompt a series of responses. Here are the key points of her presentation.
Who am I? What is my work? What is my gift? What is my legacy? Any of these questions might trigger a resistance response as we experience the inner and outer aspects of our lives in potential conflict.
Reclaiming what we know deeply can facilitate a transition to the revelation stage where we develop insight about our knowing and experience Spirit revealed in us.
As we shift our mindset from fear of the unknown to joyful anticipation and faith, we become more accepting of the risk that is inherent in any call.
In embracing the change that is coming, we begin to relate to and integrate what we’ve learned on the path of call. In the final stage of release, we assume the role of mentor and leader, owning our personal power and sharing our knowledge with others, but without need for acknowledgement or praise.
In my own career and vocation work with individuals, I’ve noticed certain characteristics that tend to accompany a call. I hope they may help you recognize an opportunity in the making:
The Experience of Call
- You sense a stirring, a pull to do something new or different.
- The pull becomes challenging as it counters advice and puts at risk approval from others