The “One True Calling” Hoax: How to Avoid This Business Disaster

A sunset setting in a lake and a man is sitting on a the edge of a wooden walkway

Have you heard this before?

“Everything will fall into place once you’ve found your one true calling.”

Are you actively seeking your one true calling? Are you feeling frustrated because you haven’t found it yet?

That might be because the search is unnecessary.

I recommend you call off the hunt, and do something else instead.

Searching for answers and feeling frustrated?

Here’s the cruel reality about searching for your “one true calling.”

It seems like you’re accomplishing something, but really, you’re just thinking about accomplishing something.

And the longer you stay stuck thinking, the longer it will take you to make real progress.

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True calling impostors

Your gut may be telling you there’s a new idea you must develop. You can feel it calling you. And you think you won’t be complete until you make it happen.

But your gut may be wrong. Sometimes we get the urge to develop new projects because of:

  • New ideas others are developing and that you wish you’d done yourself. You come across a competitor’s offering, or you see someone in your field is marketing their business using a new technology … and you feel hopelessly behind.
  • Business opportunities that provide a boost of visibility, but don’t serve your long-term goals. You may be offered the opportunity to participate in a joint project, workshop, or seminar. It’s flattering, but before you commit, be sure it will further the goals you have for your business.
  • New projects or products that will bring in quick cash, but aren’t what you really want to do in the long run. These are the “shiny objects” that give us a short-term hit of income, but that take time and energy away from developing our long-term business plans.

When you feel a strong urge to develop something new, check it against the long-term goals you have for your business. Make sure this new project won’t take you off track, down the wrong path, and away from where you want to go.

The truth about your true calling

Your one true calling doesn’t really exist.

Let me say that again, with emphasis on the most important word in the sentence:

Your one true calling doesn’t really exist.

There’s a good chance that over the life of your business, you’ll have several “true callings.”

That’s right: your true calling is always a moving target.

I’ve been in business for myself for almost 25 years, and have run many private coaching sessions. Here’s how the search for your true calling usually looks:

  • Starting out: In the early days of your business, it’s tough to know your true calling. You should have a vision, and make an educated guess. You’ll discover it by taking action.
  • 1-5 years: After you’ve implemented some of your ideas, your true calling becomes clearer. Why? Because at the same time you’re taking action, you’re listening, responding and adapting to feedback.
  • 5+ years: At this point in your business, your true calling is very clear. Just be prepared, because it may change over time! Fortunately at this point you’ve cultivated the skills of acting, listening, and responding, so modifying your true calling should feel like second nature.

How to pin down the elusive true calling

First off, remember that your true calling is revealed through action, not thinking.

Don’t attempt to “think through” every possible scenario. Act, respond, move forward.

And as you do, I recommend you substitute “finding my true calling” with “living my business journey.”

This recognizes that it’s a process, rather than a destination, and will help you avoid getting caught in the “too much thinking” trap.

How about you?

This post is based on conversations I’ve had with many business owners over the years, both colleagues and private coaching clients.

Does this hit close to home? Are you stuck in the thinking phase and having trouble getting going?

Or, have you made it past the thinking phase, and want some help with your plans?

Learn more about my BIG League program for people who are in the early stages of building an online business.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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17 thoughts on “The “One True Calling” Hoax: How to Avoid This Business Disaster”

  1. Pamela – I think this is similar to the phrase – ‘follow your passion and everything will fall into place’, which I don’t entirely agree with.

    What is interesting is to get your input on the time frame involved. Whilst Davina is much more measured about this sort of thing I feel as though we’re not progressing quickly enough. But even 2.5 years in, we have slightly changed our direction a couple of times and now do realise that this is inevitable. It’s always good to hear a ‘seasoned pro’ voice these thoughts though..

    • I think the important thing is to realize that those changes in direction are natural, and a sign of growth. And especially at the point you are at right now, they’re to be expected.

      If you’re at all ambitious, it will take time to reach the level of success you desire. Just keep moving forward and making progress, and the results will come.

      Thanks for the comment, Caroline.

  2. You hit a home run with this post. Took me many years to learn to stop just thinking & start doing something.

  3. Yes! I think so many people wait around for some kind of divine voice to start whispering The Path in their ear. The path shows up when you start walking it. 🙂

    • “The path shows up when you start walking it.”

      Yes it does. It’s a little scary to take those first steps when you see nothing in front of you. But that’s the way it is for everyone. We have to take a deep breath and forge ahead!

  4. Thanks Pamela. As usual that was a timely post and right on target. I once lived in a community that had a lot of auctions, and I would go to some of them with a good friend. He noted that my style was an “accumulator.” How right he was!
    I like variety and it is all too easy for me to respond to every offer, rather than decide on my own direction and go with that. I also like your comment that the target will always be a moving one. Now when I question my direction, i can try out something and see if it works.

    • You’re so welcome, Laraine. I’m glad it resonated with you!

      I don’t think enough is said about how running a business is a journey.

      We never have all the answers laid out in front of us. That’s the fun part, if you ask me. 🙂

  5. “One True Calling Hoax” is another excellent post. You are right on the money. We receive calls from people wanting to know what it takes to get into the online retail business. You can tell that they are looking for something with guaranteed income. You know, “the right business.”
    We tell them that all businesses are good. “What do you like to do?”, we ask. Most have not looked at it that way.

  6. Great post, Pamela.

    Changing your business is difficult. We want to develop new lines or new methods and we don’t have unlimited time. That means weaning ourselves of those things that are working for us now so we can do things that will make more later.

    There is security in having business in any mode, and it is hard to decide that you will only accept new business in an area that is not proven, yet.

    It requires commitment and hard work. Again.

    I had to laugh at the line “learned to act and listen…” My MA is theater and I thought you were trying to talk me back into that business. LOL!

    • So much wisdom in this comment, Chet! Especially this:

      That means weaning ourselves of those things that are working for us now so we can do things that will make more later.

      This is a tough step, but so necessary if we’re going to grow in the right direction.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. I love this post. I’m a huge fan of putting action to thought to MAKE things happen. I have never believed that the easy way ever just magically appears. Even when we do follow our passions and dreams, we still have to work at making it connect with the rest of our lives smoothly.

    That being said, I hope others realise that their desires may change over time, and all that they’ve invested before can still be applicable for changing directions. A journey begins with a single step. 🙂

    • Thanks for this, Grace. I agree wholeheartedly about your desires (and goals) changing over time.

      The only way to make the journey is to start walking! Forward momentum is a great teacher.

  8. Wow what a great an enlightening post!

    I am someone who is struck trying to figure out my true calling. Being stuck has caused me to feel disappointed in myself for not having made a clear decision.

    But your post is so timely and exactly what I need to inspire me to take action, since my disappointment keeps me in the thinking mode or the caught always learning and not walking as Sonia stated in her reply.

    Thank you Pamela and others for inspiring me to start putting one foot in front of the other and to get moving.

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