How to Find Your Calling in Life: Overcoming Obstacles

It’s not always easy for us to find that one thing we love doing. For some people, it is a lot easier than others and there are even those who don’t know what they want to do once they graduate high school. If you ask the right questions before embarking on your career path, then you might be able to find something that suits you best.,

“Why is it important to know your vocation” is a question that many people ask themselves. It’s not always easy to find your calling in life, but knowing what you’re meant for can help you overcome obstacles. Read more in detail here: why is it important to know your vocation.

Vintage men on a ropes course.

We discussed what a vocation is in Parts I and II of our series on vocation.

We provide an argument in Part III for why every individual should follow his vocation.

In Part IV, we spoke about how to figure out what you want to do with your life.

We’ll talk about the challenges men experience in pursuing and accepting their real calling in this last chapter of the series.

I indicated before that I don’t believe that determining your vocation is the most difficult aspect of this process; I believe that most guys instinctively know what they want to accomplish with their life, even if it’s hidden deep inside them. I have no doubt that some men struggle to discover their calling, but I believe that if you sat a majority of men down and asked them, “If there were no impediments in your way, if you could do any job, what sort of career would you choose?” the answers would come quite easily.

Of course, in real life, there are roadblocks. The impediments that come to mind immediately are usually concrete, external factors such as time, family responsibilities, and money. The impediments that genuinely keep us back are the ones we erect for ourselves; it’s high-level self-sabotage. We become willing to burst through any exterior barriers that hold us back once these internal, self-imposed barriers are removed. Today, we’d want to assist you in recognizing and identifying the hurdles you’ve erected on your route to success.

The Jonah Complex is one of the biggest roadblocks to embracing your calling.

“What you bring out will rescue you if you bring forth what is inside you.” “What you do not bring out will kill you if you do not bring forth what is inside you.” -Jesus, The Gospel According to Thomas

Dr. Maslow thought that what he called the “Jonah Complex” was holding most individuals back from reaching their full potential. Jonah’s narrative is well-known, appearing in both the Bible and the Qur’an. The prophet Jonah is summoned by God to preach in the city of Nineveh. Jonah, on the other hand, refuses to go and sets sail towards Tarshish in the other way. Jonah’s disobedience causes a storm, and he is thrown from the boat and famously devoured by a whale as a result. Three days later, the whale spits him out, and Jonah accepts God’s invitation to preach to Nineveh once again.

This anecdote, according to Maslow, is emblematic of how people often resist their destiny (and suffer the consequences of doing so). He coined the term “Jonah Complex” to describe this “fear of one’s grandeur,” “evasion of one’s destiny,” and “running away from one’s own finest qualities.” Why do we follow Jonah’s example and leave our callings? According to Maslow,

“We are terrified of our most extreme potential” (as well as our lowest ones). We are often terrified of being that which we see in our most ideal times, under the most perfect situations, under the most courageous conditions. In such peak times, we relish and even thrill to the godlike potential we perceive in ourselves. And yet, in the face of these same possibilities, we quiver with weakness, amazement, and terror.”


This basic apprehension of our utmost potential is made up of a number of lesser apprehensions:

The terror of the unknown. We have a deep aversion to the unknown. Even though it’s unpleasant, the familiar is soothing. At the very least, we know what to anticipate; the agony is familiar to us.

The dread of change and the agony that comes with it. Fear of change and the upheaval it causes to our safe lives is linked to our love of the familiar. Even when the low-grade pain is slowly killing us, we prefer continual, dull agony over a long period of time to a rapid shock to the system.

In a research conducted in the 1950s, monkeys were able to prevent shocks that may occur at any moment by pushing a button repeatedly. They avoided all but a handful, but most died of ulcers within three weeks. They had eventually died as a result of their constant efforts to escape suffering.

The fear of losing one’s identity and control. We prefer familiar situations because they give us a sense of control. In Part V of our Resiliency Series, we discussed:

“Tying your self-worth to external variables also prevents you from embracing adventure and engaging the world with the boldness of a brave explorer.” If you build your self-concept on external factors, any changes in those factors will throw you off, cause anxiety, and force you to cling to the status quo as firmly as possible. You become desperate to maintain your current lifestyle and are unable to cope with change. You dread traveling, relocating, changing professions, and starting relationships since they change the environment in which you’ve built your self-concept, making you feel lost and out of control.”

The dread of being seen as different from others. Many individuals are suspicious of and dislike others who are more skilled or accomplished than them. Such brilliant individuals make others who have buried their potential uncomfortable because they remind them of their decision to stay average. Those who are envious of others’ accomplishments typically disparage gifted and successful individuals.

When you start doing great things, you become a more visible target, attracting more attention and criticism. Some males would prefer be invisible than cope with such exposure and vulnerability.

“Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing to escape criticism.” Elbert Hubbard (Elbert Hubbard)

The dread of being laughed at. In today’s culture, there is a lot of pressure to be average and mediocre. Those who support the status quo, which constitutes the vast majority of society, will mock your ambitions to break free, intending to keep you on their level.

The dread of being held accountable. When you have a lot of power, you also have a lot of responsibility. Many people are unwilling to stand up and play a greater part in the world.

The terror of failing. Many males are terrified of failing. They’d rather not find out whether they have what it takes to realize a goal because they’re afraid of failing. We’re also concerned about what it will take to sustain our success after we’ve achieved it. Will we be able to keep it up?


Our perception of our own magnificence. This, according to Maslow, was the center of the Jonah Complex. Like gazing at the sun, seeing brilliance may be awe-inspiring, even overpowering. We’re terrified that going there would lead us to disintegrate, just as pilots once thought that breaching the sound barrier would destroy their aircraft.

“Whatever is meant to provide light must be able to withstand fire.” Frankl, Viktor

Obstacles to Embracing Our Calling: Restless Non-Compliance Strategies

What are the ways in which these anxieties present themselves in our lives? You could imagine a guy cowering in the corner when you think about dread. However, filling our lives with restless busyness—activities that distract us from the reality that we’re fearful and disregarding our calling—is a much more typical strategy to cope with our timidity.

Gregg Levoy mentions eight of these “Strategies of Restless Non-Compliance” that we use consciously or subconsciously in his book Callings:

I’m hiding behind discernment duties. Overthinking one’s profession is one of the most popular ways to avoid accepting it. We tear it apart with so many inquiries and uncertainties that we get fatigued and paralyzed inactivity, allowing us to forget about it for a time.

I’m waiting for the right time. This is another another well-liked option. You pledge you’ll start pursuing your calling as soon as x,y, and z all come into place. When you’ve graduated from college, the economy has improved, and your children have grown up. Even if those things occur, you will find additional reasons why now is not the best moment. The fact is that there is never a good time to start pursuing your goals.

You’re lying to yourself. When we say things like “I can’t afford that,” we actually mean “I won’t afford it,” according to Levoy. We tell ourselves that it’s impossible while the fact is that we just aren’t willing to put in the effort and make the sacrifices required to make it happen.

Selecting a route that runs parallel to the one you’re drawn to, near enough to keep an eye on but not so close that you’re tempted to jump tracks. You want to be a writer, but you’ve decided to teach English instead. You want to establish your own firm but have to settle for a job as a salesperson. 

Trying to replace one job with another because you don’t like it, your parents don’t like it, or it doesn’t pay well enough. It’s quite self-explanatory.

Self-sabotage/Attempting to disqualify oneself from a vocation. You want to be a professor and need to get into a competitive graduate school, but you hardly prepare for exams and get dismal scores. You want to be a fireman, but you fill your face and don’t exercise before the physical exam.

Getting involved in other things to keep oneself occupied. To drown out the sound of your call, you load your life with a plethora of tasks, noise, and clutter.


Playing the “sour grapes” game. You persuade yourself that you didn’t want the job in the first place, frequently by attempting to uncover all the negative aspects of it in order to persuade yourself that it wouldn’t have been that bad after all.

Doing It

“In your everyday life, be regular and organized so that you may be aggressive and creative in your job.” -Flaubert, Gustave

This is where we occasionally get to in postings when I state that I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide you a simple answer to your difficulties. And that’s the same when it comes to conquering the roadblocks to pursuing your passion. It’s critical to figure out what’s holding you back, and then determine if it’s worth it to overcome your worries in order to achieve your full potential, or whether you’d rather play it safe. Either you summon the bravery to pursue your passion or you don’t. Period. It all comes down to personal preference, willpower, and what you want to accomplish with your life.

But choosing to pursue your passion doesn’t have to mean diving right in. We live in a fast-paced society where we seek to improve our lives in only 28 days. It’s OK, though, to just make a strategy and follow it step by step. I’ve devised a five-year strategy for achieving my goals. It’s not flashy, but it’s achievable and realistic.

Consider yourself a compass, according to Levoy. You maintain one of the compass’s points constant while using the other to make circles. Keep one aspect of your life solid while the other pursues your purpose. You’ll be able to plant both feet into your profession at some point.

Consider yourself a compass, according to Levoy. You maintain one of the compass’s points constant while using the other to make circles. Keep one aspect of your life solid while the other pursues your purpose. You’ll be able to plant both feet into your profession at some point.

We hope that this series has motivated you to think more thoroughly about your life’s calling and to find job that genuinely utilizes your unique skills and abilities. Keep a few things in mind as you go ahead with your genuine calling. We have the tendency to believe that doing what we’re supposed to do would be simple. However, it will be a difficult task. It was a lot of labor. There will be enough of “dead work” to go around. You’ll still have days when you don’t want to go to work and wish you could leave. Work is inherently like this.

However, it will not be effort done in vain. It will be labor that extends rather than limits your spirit, leaving you feeling more alive rather than less. It will be challenging job that will push you to attain your full potential as a man. It will be labor that satisfies not just your need, but also a global hunger. Most importantly, it will give you the unmistakable sensation that you have a reason and purpose for being here, and that you have achieved that goal. That you are exactly where you should be, doing exactly what you were born to accomplish.


Gentlemen, best of luck on your travels. Part I of Finding Your Calling: What Is a Vocation? Discovering Your Purpose Part II: Vocation’s Myths and Realities Discovering Your Purpose Why Pursue a Vocation, Part III? Discovering Your Purpose Part IV: Finding Your Calling Part V of Finding Your Calling: Overcoming Obstacles to Embracing Your Calling 



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