Recently my coaching clients have been voicing a deep desire to find fulfilling work (even if that’s not why they came in the first place!)  In these times of economic and environmental upheaval, many are asking not only what they can get from their work, but what they can give. This shift of viewpoint is fundamental to hearing our calling – discovering what we were born to do.

We all have something unique to offer the world, including you. And if you don’t believe you have a gift, I promise you have at least one! It might be hard to locate, if it’s been buried under years of conditioning at school and at work.  Your hidden gift may need a little polishing before it’s ready to offer to the world.

Here are five questions to help you clarify your gift.

What does it always surprise you that other people can’t, or don’t, do? Your gift may be such a familiar part of you that you don’t even recognise it as a gift, taking it for granted and saying ‘it’s just what I do’.

What energises you?
What energises you?

What energises you rather than depletes you? Using your gift won’t really feel like ‘work’ (although it may be physically, intellectually or emotionally demanding). It will leave you a different kind of tired: wearily fulfilled rather than drained and exhausted.

What do you find other people come to you for? Comfort and wise words? Great hospitality? To fix something? Do others look to you to make decisions? What would you want people to come to you for?

What would you do if you were with others on a desert island? Would you be the one growing food, building shelters, entertaining others, acting as counsellor, stitching clothes from banana leaves or devising means for escape?

Desert Island
Desert Island

What needs in the world do you feel yourself responding to? Are you inspired to action by inefficient systems? The emotional or physical pain of others? Animals suffering? Social inequality? Land use? The needs that move you most are calling for your contribution…

Maybe you already know your gift, but can’t find a way to make a living from it. This is common in a world where most work is geared to making money for distant shareholders, or keeping bureaucratic systems ticking over. People are waking up; they no longer want to be a cog in a machine they don’t really care about.

If this is you, begin by being the change you want to see in the world. Supporting local industries and enterprises, you’ll help create a community with more room for everyone’s talents.  And never underestimate the power of reciprocity. If you support someone else’s venture, they are much more likely to support yours, either directly or through their network.

How can I get started?

When we collaborate, amazing things happen. Use social networking, courses, groups and volunteer opportunities to connect with others who share your passion. Explore forming a small business, jointly owned cooperative or social enterprise – each contributing what you’re best at. If solo work suits you better, don’t struggle alone. Make use of your network for ideas, support and inspiration. Check out crowd funding, ethical banks, ‘gift economy’ and funding circles to get started.

With salaried roles, be choosy. Search broadly, and keep searching, until you find an organisation whose purpose and culture you’re comfortable with. If relocating seems necessary yet impossible – what would make it possible, or worth a risk, for work you love? Or could you create your dream role closer to home?

Picasso said, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’

We all deserve work we love, and the world deserves our best work. Make 2015 the year you hear your calling, and begin to do what you were born for.


Gill Coombs
Gill Coombs


Gill Coombs is a writer, coach and facilitator passionate about helping people find work that’s good for them and the planet. Her book Hearing our Calling draws on a diverse personal work history, many years of corporate development and an MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College

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