In 1960, Loretta Lynn stepped onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. It was not an easy journey.
In fact, Loretta and her family slept in their car outside the Opry and they all shared a doughnut for breakfast in the morning. To say she was dirt poor was an understatement.
Two years later, with her great singing voice and charisma, the Grand Ole Opry made her a lifetime member. To any country singer, this is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed. To Loretta, it was only the beginning.
Fifty years later, Loretta Lynn is still going strong. She continues to tour when healthy and, in 2004, put out an album that landed on top of the country charts. Loretta Lynn does not seem to be slowing down — no thoughts of retirement any time soon.
Loretta gets it. She found her calling. That is the ultimate goal for anyone in the working world.
I always ask my classes at ASPU what the ultimate goal of college is. To which they respond, “to graduate” or “to learn”or “to get a good job” and of course “to get an A in my class.”
To which I respond that those answers have important value, but a student’s ultimate goal in college is to find a career from which they do not want to retire. Ultimately, that is finding your calling.
Only a few lucky individuals, like Loretta Lynn, find their calling. But what a wonderful life that would be: Getting up every morning excited to go to work.
There is an old saying in the self-help literature and it is a bit clichéd but very true — “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
The difficult part, of course, is finding your calling. Here is a 3 step process to help discover your calling:
Make a list of five of your key strengths. This could include creativity, negotiation and problem solving, for example.
Make a list of your five key values: Charity, accomplishment and compassion are examples.
Then pick two careers that you think are your calling and write a persuasive paragraph (as if to an audience) using your strengths and values to argue for the career. The one that fits best and feels right will be your direction. (This could be an awareness exercise for parents working with their children to find a direction. I describe such an exercise in my book, “Flying Lessons.”)
Finding your direction and staying on that path for the rest of your life is a wonderful experience. I remember the story of the 92-year-old pediatrician who said that he would never think of retiring because he loves his job so much. He could never think of retiring because it keeps his mind sharp and love in his heart. I can only wish those sentiments to you.