37 Questions to Help You Clarify Your Callings
Questions lead to discovery. These questions can help you discover your calls.
Posted Nov 20, 2017
1) If you were standing at the Pearly Gates and asked what you liked best about your experience of a human life, write a list of what you’d say. (Be specific. Don’t say friendships, name names. Don't say nature, name places.)
2) What is the most prominent quote or affirmation you have tacked/taped/framed up in your house and/or office?
3) Italian writer Alberto Moravia said it’s important to know “the one problem you were born to understand.” Such as “What is true leadership?” “How do you live a creative life?” “What's the role of the mind in the course of disease?” “How do you raise compassionate children?” What is the one problem you were born to understand?
4) Name a subject you can speak about with genuine authority because you’ve lived it? Growing up in a family with a disability, being a cancer survivor, living in another country, supporting yourself as an artist?
5) When you go into a bookstore, what section do you always go to first, or spend the most amount of time in?
6) What book are you in the middle of reading right now? What’s the theme?
7) If you’ve ever thought that someday you might write a book, what would the subject of that book be?
8) What have always been your most natural abilities? The courses you always aced in school, the skills that always came easily to you?
9) A Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner popularized the idea of “multiple intelligences,” rather than a simple (and limiting) notion of IQ as based on old IQ-tests. Rank the following multiple intelligences in order, from those that most closely describe yourself, to those that least describe you:
Linguistic intelligence (word smart)
Logical/mathematical (number/logic smart)
Visual/Spatial (picture smart)
Musical (music smart)
Body/Kinesthetic (body/physical smart)
Interpersonal (people smart)
Intrapersonal (self/self-reflective smart)
Naturalist (nature/environment smart)
10) If you were to go back to school—not for the sake of establishing a new career or making money, necessarily, but just for the love of learning—what subject(s) would you most want to study?
11) If you could test-drive an entirely different profession than the one you’re currently in—or a different version of the one you’re in—what would it be?
12) If money and logistics were no object, what three activities would you most love to pursue/experience?
13) When were you the happiest you’ve ever been, and what was going on at that point in your life?
14) Name an experience you consider among the high-points of your life (could be as simple as sitting in front of a sunset with a loved one, or as elaborate as traveling in Europe for a summer). Write the ingredients list of this experience. What were the factors that made this experience a high-point?
15) Have you had a dream in the past week that really struck you? What was the dream about, and what was your interpretation of it? (Or perhaps just the last dream that you vividly remember?)
16) If you ever found yourself at a crossroads (say, coming out of college, or out of a marriage), and had to make a choice between one of several directions to go in, in making whatever choice you made, what was the road not taken?
17) Were there directions or choices in life that your parents either explicitly or implicitly did not want you to go in? (It might have been different for each parent.)
18) You’re going to a Halloween party next week: what do you really want to come dressed as?
19) Name a decision in your life that really needs to be made now, not back-burnered another month or another year?
20) Name something positive about yourself that people have been telling you all your life.
21) If you had an hour’s worth of prime-time television and an international audience, what subject would you talk about for that hour?
22) If I were to say to you, “Just Go For It!” what might the “It” in “Go For It” be?
23) What would you say is the most satisfying accomplishment of your life so far?
24) What is the most important thing missing from your life?
25) What act of boat-rocking would you engage in right now that would shake your life up, for the sake of helping it grow and evolve, be stimulated and challenged?
26) What have you avoided or ignored in the course of your life that follows you around anyway and seems determined to claim you—your creative side, leadership, public speaking, writing a book, a simple life in the country, self-employment? What keeps coming back?
27) People often won’t make a significant change in their lives until they become sick of a pattern and until their own suffering forces their hand. Name a pattern in your life that you’re sick of?
28) Have you had any synchronicities lately—meaningful coincidences? What was the event, and how did you interpret it?
29) What social causes most attract or inflame you?
30) Write down the name of someone whose life you envy, and why?
31) What magazines or newsletters do you subscribe to?
32) Think of a time when you were the most outspoken you’ve ever been about something; took a stand, made sure your voice was heard. What was it about?
33) If you could teach every child in the world one life lesson, and have them truly learn it, what lesson would that be?
34) Write down the names of 3 or 4 of both your favorite movies and your favorite books. What if any themes do they have in common? What personal interests do they reflect?
35) One of the most powerful forces operating in people’s lives is the unlived life of their parents—the dreams they had that didn’t come true, the callings they had that went unanswered. What if anything is the unlived life of each of your parents or primary caretakers (the answer to the question, “My Dad always wanted to be a what? My mother always wished she could have what?), and what effect has that had on the decisions/choices you’ve made?
36) Write down the names of at least three people who know you the best. Let them answer the following question, as if you were asking it of them: “What do you think my calling is right now? What's trying to emerge in my life?
37) What is the most consistent message or urging you’ve been hearing in your head in the last year about a change that wants to happen in your relationship to work? And the most consistent urging you’ve heard about a change that wants to happen in a non-work arena: relationship, community life, lifestyle, health or spiritual regimens?
Connecting the Dots
Now skim through your responses to all the preceding questions and look for patterns by circling all recurring themes. Any word or phrase or action item that continually shows up. Whatever you circle will be something that wants your attention, wants airtime or an entrance cue. Something that's being called-for from you.