Around 1900 B.C., in Ancient Sumer, which is present-day Iraq, a craftsperson of some sort used a chisel on a stone to spell out a message.

Have you ever chiseled a message into stone? You have got to be committed to that message to do that by hand.

What message did they care so much to share?

They were writing the story of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. 

On her voyage to visit her long-forgotten sister, Inanna is stripped bare and struck dead. After three days and nights, her good friend, Ninshubur, finally calls upon the help of Inanna’s grandfather, who, from the dirt in his fingertips, fashions little ally creatures to save Inanna. They fly through the cracks in the labyrinth and bring Inanna home. 

Like the great protagonists of so many ancient (and modern!) stories, Inanna’s was a hero’s journey. 

An Ancient Map to Clarity

Later, in the 1940s, Joseph Campbell was studying stories, like Inanna’s, from people across the globe and across time and discovered a sequence of steps that most great stories traverse. He named this map the hero’s journey.

On the hero’s journey, the hero hears a call, receives support from allies, braves many great ordeals, and eventually becomes the person who can rise to the challenge.

Armed with this map, I’ve helped hundreds of people— first as a birth doula and for nearly seven years as a professional coach— to bring forward a next phase of life that is impactful and fulfilling.  

Over the years, I’ve found that four key phases are key to getting clear and confident about what’s next. I’ve renamed these phases in a way that makes sense to our modern minds. They are—

The Compass. The Call. The Allies. The Gates.

The Compass.

Imagine you’re on a boat out at sea, and you can’t find your compass. You’d feel lost, huh? On your journey to what’s next, your intuition is your compass. Before you head out to sea, you need to reconnect with your intuition, turning down the volume of the limiting stories you tell yourself and learning to listen to the wisdom within you. Once you do this, you can reorient yourself, access the information you need, and choose your direction, no matter how far off course you may be.

The Call.

A calling is a longing to fulfill a purpose that is greater than yourself and to become the person who can rise to the challenge. The problem is, many of us learned to forsake our desires and ignore our needs from a young age. To get clear about what’s next, you need to heal your relationship with longing. In this phase, you get clear about your ideal week, how much money you need to earn, who you feel called to serve, and your core values. You envision the next horizon of your life and embody a commitment to step fully into your calling.

The Allies.

Even though Western culture inculcates us with the myth of the self-made man, the truth is that in no great story does the hero ever go it alone. A calling is about serving a purpose, and we can only really serve a purpose if we’re in conversation with the people we want to serve. This phase is about getting the outside view— having conversations with people you’re called to serve and who are connected with opportunities that interest you. To get clear, we need to engage in experiments to inform our next steps.

The Gates.

Fear and doubt are such common parts of the journey that immediately after the hero hears the call, Joseph Campbell wrote that they go through a phase called “the Refusal of the Call.” At least once on your journey, you’ll come to a place where you know deep down what you want, but another part is wracked with doubt. It yells “Yeah, but” and “What if?” It is possible to pass through these gates to a place of ease and clarity. To do that, you must learn how to soothe your voice of doubt, let go of what no longer serves you, and finally cross the threshold with courage and confidence.

When you understand these four phases, you know what you need to do to become the person who can rise to the challenge.

It becomes easier to make decisions you trust. Rather than feeling stuck, you’re able to move into your next level calling and create work and a life that are deeply fulfilling.

In the coming weeks, we’ll explore each of these phases in more depth.

For now, I invite you to reflect on each of these phases in your own life and on the following questions:

  • The Compass: How is your relationship to your intuition? Do you regularly access the information that arises from your body? Do you trust your gut and your heart?

  • The Call: How do you relate to your desire and needs? Do you know what you want and need in the next phase of your life? Can you envision your next horizon? Are you committed to making your longings a reality?

  • The Allies: Are you consistently engaged in conversations with the people you’re called to serve and people who are connected with opportunities that interest you? Are you engaged in experiments to make your vision a reality?

  • The Gates: How do you relate to your voice of doubt? Do you know what you need to let go of to move toward your calling? Do you take action while practicing self-compassion?

 

 

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