Posted by: Suzan | January 21, 2010

Go Within to Find Your True Vocation

“Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me? Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it – listen for what it intends to do with you,” writes Author and Poet, Parker Palmer, in his book, “Let your Life Speak – Listening for the Voice of Vocation.”

Palmer suggests that searching for your true vocation is not a willful process. Instead it involves deep listening to your heart for truth and core values. It is not a comparison to others or the striving to ‘fit in.’ It is not a goal setting frenzy. It is simply taking the time to go within to hear your calling.

He also recommends becoming a sleuth of your own life. Look for clues from your past and then decode them. What did you want to be as a child? He loved aeronautics and made planes constantly. When young he also wrote many small books about his passion for flight. He mistook this fervor for the need to get into the field of aeronautics. All along his real love had been writing. He’s now a prolific author.

Other places to look include examining your nature. Write a list of what brings you joy and also, what you don’t like (or would not want in an occupation). Reflect on work which has seemed effortless while engaging both your mind and heart. Also ask, what have you been unsuccessful with in past career endeavors? By being honest with your limitations, you can build a better foundation for your life. If you are unwilling to go here, you take the risk of conforming to who you are not which jeopardizes your interest of finding ‘your path of authentic service in the world.’

We must ensure the inner-voice we hear is not the grating ego demanding we continue to pound on the door which has closed in front of us. Palmer implores us to turn around, put the door behind us, and embrace what is now open before us.

Listen to the truth from our souls as if they are wild animals in East Africa. If we want to experience these creatures we must sit still long enough to allow them to emerge from the deep brush. Only then can we experience ‘the precious wildness we seek.’


  1. I love the analogy of the soul as wild East African animal. Sometimes facing yourself feels scary, like anticipating an encounter with danger. Yet when you become familiar with the beast, your love and respect for it grows. Lovely and thought provoking blog post!


    • Thanks for your feedback Gina. I highly recommend Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak – Listening for the Voice of Vocation (it is a brief read too). Yes, What can be scary – isn’t so – when we get a closer look! And also, our souls are timid and will run away if we banter after them — we must go within gingerly, wait, ALLOW – the truth to emerge.


  2. I’m going to read this book, Suzan. Thanks a great recommendation.


  3. Karen,

    I’m glad you will read it. I also learned more about what it is to be a Quaker – fascinating. I’ve had interesting insights of my own after this read. I’m so grateful your sister passed it along – inspiring!



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