Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chew on it like a Bear

How to find direction in life in 3 questions. 

Three is a good number for me today. This afternoon I took a call from an old friend, R., whom I had lost touch with. He's almost 26, my age, and had moved from New Orleans back to his family's homeland in military Newport, Virginia. He had worked for a year as a car salesman and has just quit, citing differences with a coworker who he wanted to beat up and...

"chew on for a while so it looked like a bear attack to the cops."

(I am not making this up). He called me to see what I knew about becoming a teacher. We had not spoken in over a year, but today we had a full conversation for an hour. ( I love those. )

I know very little about becoming a teacher, but I know slightly more than R., apparently. When I described some of the barriers to entry (like "certification" and "applying") I heard his anxious, defeated sigh. That's the same one I've had a few times now, too. It means that I used to think I was ahead of the curve, but I just now realized that I'm digging myself out.

Here is how you get direction in life, in 3 questions.  
R. needs to do this tonight.

1) What do you want to do to the world?  What in the world would you be most proud to change, or add, or subtract? What cause is most important to you? This is the big goal, the naive ideal. Christians might call it a vocation, or God's calling for your life. Most churches are silent on the next two, practical, self-centered steps, without which you will never realize your vocation.

2) What do you like doing? How should you go about doing that thing, and what can you not do about it? Friends, experiences, help with this a lot.

3) What do you want to get from it? What kind of lifestyle would you be comfortable with? Are there places you will or won't live? Do you have kids, a minimum budget?

Establishing these 3 answers, then balancing them, is hard. This is more intense soul-searching than most people are used to. Be flexible, use the advice of friends and loved ones, even colleagues. And find a quiet time to do this from start to finish, rather than distractedly. And continue to chew on it like a bear.

thanks, R.

Me, for example

I've been trying to figure this out for nearly ten years.

1) I know that I want to help people use religions better.
2) I'm good at projects, and I enjoy writing. Turns out I do not like teaching classrooms. I'm currently figuring out if I'm good at videos.
3) I (we) are comfortable with a modest lifestyle, in any city, and have no envy for million dollar mansions.