Figure Out YOU, Then You’ll Know What to DO: 4 Ways to Find Your True Identity and Calling

By Steven A. Hitz, Founding Director
Author of Launching Leaders

August 24, 2017

There is no doubt that Millennials, Gen X’rs, and Y’s are making a difference and changing the world.  Their quest to make a difference and to thrive (not just financially) and do more than just exist, is guiding their path.  Social justice is center stage.  For all the great aspirations they are engaged in, these cherished generations – indeed many from all generations – find themselves “stuck.” Be it paralysis by analysis or asking questions without really seeking answers, there is a blind spot developing that can bring heartache around the next corner if we don’t step back and consider some adjustments.

Just this week, I went with a friend one evening to our farm.  I was driving around the corn field, making my way to the upper pond.  It was not on an established road per se, and the recent rains made it a little muddy, but navigable. The path was narrow between the fence and the crop, and suddenly the conditions got worse and I entered a bog.  My heavy truck literally sank to its axels, and as I spun all four wheels I sunk even more.  My friend got out and began shoveling.  At the same time, it was dusk, and the mosquito’s found two new targets.  Luckily, I found some bug spray.  As the stars began to appear, we had still made no progress.  I had a long chain in my pickup bed, which was a good find if I could locate some help.  I called my son-in-law, and told him of our situation.  After laughing out loud, he journeyed to the farm and eventually pulled us out—-backwards (there would be no way forward), and we found our way back to the road.  I spun a few buckets of mud high into the air as the speed of the highway dislodged the mud from the tires.  Cars behind me backed off.

Sometimes the path forward requires a step back, a little help from the outside, good mentors, and a little bug repellant.  As we shake off the mud and move forward, brush off the pests that could detract us from our intent, we can blaze a new path, flinging off the old self (mud) with gusto.

I hope those reading this blog, understand that we all need help when we are stuck, and I offer to come alongside to assist in making your way from the bog and on to a clearer path.

Here are four steps to discover your true identity and what you are “called” to do.

  1. The process of discovering your true identity can include:
  • Establish your core values—what type of person do you want to be? Find a special place, your own “holy ground” to meditate upon the core values you want all of your actions to emanate from. Create affirmative statements with your values, such as “I am a giving person,” and write them down to reference frequently.  See chapter two in Leadership by LIGHT; Principles that Empower for more details.
  • Align your core values with your spirituality. Your core values should align with your own ideas about spirituality. This is part of becoming congruent and living your life from your center (being your authentic self).  Establishing your true identity is also a healthy way to make life more about others than about you—even though you must figure out YOU before you will be of better service to humanity.
  • Take ample time to meditate upon who you really are—or who you hope to be. I have been in settings around the world where spiritual or “holy” people spend literally months at a time meditating upon things they are trying to clarify and figure out. This process of stepping away from the world so to speak, is vitally important to your discovery of the real YOU and naturally takes time; so you don’t have to rush it.  I invite you to see my blog on Spiritual Exercises for more color on this step.
  • Now couple the person you are or desire to be, with the idea of “How will the world be different (better) because I lived?” While it is healthy to question the status quo, living a life of meaning is not as easy as taking a different route; life is more than a long road trip. A life of meaning and purpose is as varied as a bucket of marbles—no two are alike—and that is the beauty of it.  Your summation of your true identity should bring into focus how the world will be better because you lived.   Understand that this process is not a “one and done” exercise.  It will likely take you into a deep controversy with your past, which will enable you to break through to new beginnings.  This transformation is life long and dynamic.  Now proceed to step two:
  1. When you find your “calling” or what you perceive to be your purpose in life, GO FOR IT. There will be many, including yourself who will question your decisions—or will resist you becoming a different person that you were.  But once you get the green-light from your inner-self, having taken the time to discover your heart, NEVER LOOK BACK.  I have been impressed with the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who led a cause to resist and protect the church from the influence of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi era.  He took considerable time to discover his true identity and calling; after which he proceeded and never looked back.  He became a martyr for the cause, but was never dissuaded.  Said he “My calling is quite clear to me.  What God will make of it I do not know…..There is still much disobedience in me and mixed motives in my profession.  I feel my way every day.  I must follow the path.”  He was persistent but admittedly never perfect in his quest.  Which leads to the next steps:
  2. Center yourself through a DAILY DEVOTIONAL —which may include meditation or prayer, study, music, physical exercise to build strength, and focus on your discovered TRUE IDENTITY. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, this practice will add clarity to your life.  I’m a part-time farmer, and we do some work with cows.  You might not know that they have several stomachs.  They will graze a while, and then lie down and ruminate.  They basically cough up what they ate and re-chew it over and over again.  It increases their health and energy.  Ruminating on what matters most and having a daily devotional is a little like the process of cows ruminating.  If we focus, our daily experience will not become routine, but increase our spiritual, physical, and mental health.  It will move us forward in BECOMING who we have decided to be.  Take time for yourself and establish a daily devotional.  Make this the priority of your day.
  3. Live into YOU, the person you have determined you are—your true identity, with grace and forgiveness. Too often, a person is dissuaded or discouraged because they are perceived to not measure up to the person they aspire to be.  Sometimes I am discouraged by negative comments by others—even my children, who remind me of who I “used to be.”  Remember, this process is a life-long endeavor—positive transformation never happens overnight.  Everyone stumbles, so get over the idea that you will achieve perfection in your quest, and just keep on, going on.  Onward, even in the face of a cold wind, should be your mantra.

In conclusion, this process of discovering your true identity, acting upon what you are called to do, honing your habits and skills, and living into the new you will lead to a confident, joyful and holistic life.  You will reject any half measures that would detract you from the charted course, and the world will be a better place because you lived.  Begin NOW.

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