By Sherri L. McLendon
The piece of paper fell from a book while I was cleaning my office last week. When I retrieved it, I realized that what I was holding in my hand was my answers to a series of questions about finding my vocation. And that I am now living the life I envisioned in 2009 as I step into 2014.
On a spiritual path for decades, I’d often longed for meaningful work which felt like a higher calling. But time after time over the years, I’d unconsciously chosen not to show up and advocate on my own behalf. Then one day, I decided to place attention to the conscious crafting of my life and vocation. Here are three techniques I learned to ground my search which would repeatedly take me wherever I wished to go.
Step One: To Manifest it, Write it Down
The first step to bringing any dream manifest is writing it down, whatever comes up, warts and all. Early on in the process of our work, I ask my clients:
1. What do you have right now?
2. What do you want instead?
3. What is the cost of not following your calling?
4. What are the next steps you can take to move you in that direction?
Your Takeaway: Answer deeply the questions you like least; that’s where you’ll find the greatest potential for growth.
Step Two: Practice Discernment
Those of us who are on a path of consciousness often find it difficult to advocate for ourselves on this journey. So we need to give ourselves permission to exercise discernment along the way. Discernment means that we respond, not react. It means we advocate for ourselves in ways that allow for the highest and best outcomes for all concerned. It means we don’t have to know the entire journey in advance, only the next steps.
Many years ago, I worked in a real estate brokerage office. On the wall, Jackie, one of my co-workers, had tacked one-half of a ragged manila folder above the phone. On the frame of the folder was a small circle within a larger circle, their sides touching at one point. The small circle was labeled “mine.” The larger circle was labeled “not mine.” I asked what it meant.
“When someone calls with a problem, I look at it while I listen,” she explained. “It helps me to know whether the task is mine to do or if it is not mine to do. If it is mine, I specify that I will take a particular action, and I say when I will take that action. Then I follow up. If it is not mine to do, I help the caller determine the next step they might take.”
When trying to reach a goal, one may find themselves caught in an ooey-gooey communication cycle which lacks clarity. Goals should be specific and measurable, with clear cut actions to be taken to meet the objective.
Discernment helps us tie down the facts of the matter and maintain balance and right relationship as we pursue our vocation. Suppose someone says, “I’ll talk with the executive director and get back with you about the job we want to hire you to do.” Discernment means we ask for the clarity we need: when that conversation will take place, whose responsibility it is to follow up, and what criteria are at play. Ultimately, discernment as a practice is a form of passionate detachment, in which we take steps toward the outcomes we want, value and deserve.
Your Takeaway: Get clear on what is “mine” and “not mine,” and hold yourself and others accountable.
Step 3: Advocate on Your Own Behalf
Recently, I was in a meeting, and another woman stood to speak about her personal journey.
“I just want to say yes to everything that comes my way,” she declared. “I am claiming my yes.”
Claiming the power of “yes” is an important skill in claiming and owning one’s vocation, but saying “yes” doesn’t mean to throw discernment out of the window or to let judgment in the door. As an advocate for one’s higher self in alignment with the highest and best outcomes, the word “yes” needs to be followed by one of two conjunctions: “and” or “but.” Here’s why:
“Yes, and…” allows the speaker to affirm another’s viewpoint, extend its favorability even further. For example, “Yes, I agree women should have equal pay for equal work, and I am willing to be part of the solution by volunteering for the committee.”
On the other hand, “Yes, but …” allows the speaker to acknowledge another’s point of view then respectfully negate it. For instance, “Yes, I understand the board of directors is concerned about increased costs, but the return on investment in qualified workers far exceeds the costs associated with the high rate of turnover your corporation currently experiences.” See what I mean?
Your Takeaway: Practice using “Yes, and” and “Yes, but” sentences when advocating for yourself or negotiating for a specific outcome. This technique puts us in charge of our own vocational destiny.
Sherri L. McLendon, M.A., owns and operates Professional Moneta International, specializing in mindfulness approaches to marketing public relations and feminine leadership. Learn more at www.professionalmoneta.com.