Taking a Turn Towards My Calling
After my post last month on my decision to resign from active duty naval service, several folks have asked for a follow-up. Well, I submitted my resignation letter, and it is officially being processed. It came as a shock to a few members of my chain of command. One of my bosses said he “hates to lose such a good naval officer,” and that he was signing my endorsement, “with regret.”
Based on past and present feedback, I am a good naval officer. I received several awards, top marks on my evaluations (the Navy calls these fitness reports), and filled some tough positions that were higher than my pay grade. Even my subordinates told me they thought I was a great leader and they enjoyed working for me.
Therefore, my decision to leave my 11-year-long successful naval career probably looks like I’m throwing a lot away: a good, steady job, great benefits, upward mobility, the opportunity to travel and meet new people, and instant respect from strangers the moment I put my uniform on. I understand why people look at me like I’m nuts when I say I’m giving that up.
That said, every time I put on my uniform and walked into work, it felt as though I was fulfilling a role, like I was in a play or something. Sometimes I worried that others could see through me, seeing me for the phony I was (or maybe still am?).
Currently, I’m reading a book called, “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins (2015). It is a wonderful piece to help you find your life’s calling. Goins argues that it is “possible to succeed at the wrong thing” (p. 77). I have to admit; he’s absolutely right. Being a successful naval officer, I have been succeeding at the wrong thing for the past 11 years. Goins tells us that,
“In any vocation, there comes a time when you realize the path you’re on is not taking you where you want to go. All this preparation has culminated in helping you achieve the wrong goal… What do you do then? …You realize it’s never too late to change and take a turn in the direction of your true calling” (p. 81).
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m taking a turn in the direction of my true calling. While I may not know exactly what my true calling is yet (writing? counseling? teaching yoga? photography?), I know it isn’t being an active duty naval officer.