On Vocation and Let Your Life Speak

I’ve been in a ruminating space lately, somewhat personally in-process, allowing change to happen and setting the stage for personal evolution. What I’ve come to realize about my own process of growth is that there are equal parts taking the bull by the horns and just allowing things to happen.

LetYourLifeSpeakCoverAfter reading this post on Brain Pickings about the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation I was inspired to pick it up from the library on Friday. It’s a quick read and falls under the category of ‘intelligent self-help’, at least by my classification. Author Parker J. Palmer writes about finding one’s vocation rather than a career calling and describes it in a way that I’ve heard other authors describe as one’s ‘soul work’. Palmer writes from a Quaker background, so he’s not afraid to use the big ‘G’ God and talk about terms like the soul. My experience and background are different but I still found it very relatable.

It took me a couple of chapters to wrap my head around the concept of vocation, but it sort of clicked when I read:

My youthful understanding of “Let your life speak” led me to conjure up the highest values I could imagine and then try to conform my life to them whether they were mine or not.

Essentially, just because you admire the work that someone else has done doesn’t mean that it’s the work for you. I know I’ve been caught in that space before and it’s what has lead me to make some of my big life decisions. Palmer encourages us to reflect back on early moments of our life, even deep into childhood to mine for data. Something in there will give clues as to what your true vocation is…

Now I know that may sound a bit woo to some of you, so let me try to break it down in logical terms. While I believe that there’s a good dose of environment in shaping personality, there are certain things that are just part of our nature. Example: I was always quiet and reflective, even as a baby. So to use some of these early clues about yourself and your nature to discern what your most fitting vocation might be doesn’t feel like such a stretch. You’re basically sifting through your own life for answers to that deepest question: who am I and what am I doing here?

And if that still feels like too much woo, then tough, I like woo, so deal with it.