Editor’s Note: It’s been a week since I’ve written. I’m sorry. I’ve been insanely busy with projects, so we’re back to a guest post by a great pal of mine, Mala Grewal. Her post resonates with me in a big way. I hope you’ll tune in, connect and give your thoughts too. – Katie
Have you ever asked yourself this question:
Have you ever asked this question when your source of income was ending in 10 weeks? It’s not exactly the lightest of dinner conversations, but one January evening over steaming curry in New York City I found myself with a mentor discussing this very question.
She looked right at me and said, “Mala, how do you want to spend the time in your life?”
In college, we’re not exactly taught to think this way when we pick a major, but consider this: the prime years of our life, let’s say years 25 – 60, if we’re working outside our homes, are not spent with our families, friends, on personal hobbies, or on philanthropic desires. These years are spent at work in an office, a classroom, a studio, etc.
My mentor and I went to work to identifying all of the ways I was currently spending my time: what I did when I felt like I was wasting time, what my dreams were as a kid, what topics interested me outside of work, what advice I’d give to my grandkids when I was 90, and a series of other questions. This exploration got me clear on my calling. I am on the planet to connect individuals to their highest potential in a measurable way. This epiphany spiraled me into a ball of enlightenment and anxiety. My current job contract was ending in 8 weeks! I was in this survival mode state when my mentor proposed what felt like was a scary, exhilarating trick: call 200 people and share your calling with them. You’re not asking them for a job. You’re sharing your calling to make it a reality.
Of course my immediate thought was: you’re nuts! My second thought was: Whoa. And my last and final thought (which kicked me into action ASAP) was: You’re desperate, trust this woman.
So off I went. I began by calling my mom and those folks to whom you could say, “Guess what?! I’m becoming a trapeze artist!” and they’d sing your praises. Next were my good acquaintances. Those conversations led to connection with individuals I’d never met.
The simple pattern I discovered was this: People wanted to talk about my idea.
They connected with my idea and found it relevant, and after hearing the idea, wanted to find me a job without me having to sell at all! The more I shared my story with others, the more real it became to me, to the point where it was my reality. I was fulfilling my calling, conversation after conversation. By the end of my 200th conversation I’d connected not only with my mom, but with executives at LinkedIn, Whole Foods, Google, Microsoft, Zappo’s, and Apple, to name a few. I was in shock. I still am as I type this.
At the end of 200 conversations I came up big with 2 huge interview opportunities. I made it to the final rounds of both and ended up losing the first opportunity to another candidate who was a “better cultural fit”. I was devastated. Two weeks later the second company called and offered me a full-time position with a higher title and double the salary. Imagine that: 8 weeks of sharing an idea vs. 9 months of asking for a job.
So I high-tailed it from New York to Texas where I was quickly given the book The Yankee Chick’s Survival Guide to Texas, and the rest, as they say, is history.
If you’re not clear on your calling, hit the pause button and figure out what it is. And know, by the way, that there’s never a “good” time to do this. In the words of Richard Branson, “Life’s too short. Don’t enjoy it? Don’t do it!” I firmly believe that work should support your life, not the other way around.
How do you want to spend the time of your life?
Final Editor’s Note: If you liked this post, come visit Mala, Jennifer Emerson, Clare McNamara and I on October 30 online. We’ll be hosting a panel on making career leaps and finding your calling.