One of the most common questions I receive about Lessons from the Sidelines is the request to dive deeper into the details on how to define a “sweet spot.” I’ve been hesitant to provide too many details because I don’t want to limit anyone’s thought process. Using the 7 Step Actionable Study will help you narrow your calling, which is a significant step in everyone’s journey.
Our sweet spot is the narrowing of our calling where the combination of our gifts, skills, and talents combine with our passions and interests in a unique way. When we thrive in our sweet spot, we’re living out God’s plan for our life rather than following someone else’s advice or version of our calling.– Beth Walker
I now realize that for many people, the stage of the journey from clarifying your calling to thriving in your sweet spot often includes community support. Perhaps it’s because women are verbal processors, and we want to hear that those we spend our time with believe in us. But I also think the courageous steps to thrive in your sweet spot go deeper. These actions include making significant decisions that may shift the trajectory of our life path. These choices are scary, and we want to hear we are making the right choice before going too far.
Emily P. Freeman explains it this way: “a lot of the angst with these decisions comes down most of the time, not all, but most of the time, especially among women, to a hesitancy to trust ourselves. It’s like we are looking for someone outside of us to tell us it’s okay to listen to our own intuition, listen to what we really want to do.”
The truth is that we will never be able to be one hundred percent certain we’re making the correct choice. But, when we take the time to sketch a map of our journey, we may realize the path ahead isn’t as foggy (or daunting) as it seems.
How to Distinguish Your Sweet Spot
One of the first things we do when we take on a new client at my marketing agency is we look for the unique identifiers that set them apart from other companies in their niche.
Banks all offer checking and savings accounts. So, what makes someone choose one bank over another? It often comes down to the pain points they solve. We used to bank with Bank A, but they limited deposits allowed through the app to $2,000 and charged fees for ATMs. Bank B allowed app deposits up to $25,000 and reimbursed ATM fees. It was an easy decision to switch.
Your sweet spot is the unique identifier that sets you apart. In many cases, this will be the special sauce you contribute to a ministry team that allows the ministry as a whole to level up above similar ministries. In your career, your sweet spot will be the combination of gifts and talents that will enable you to do your job so well it seems second nature to you. Think about the areas where you catch on quickly or grasp the basics of a concept instinctually. This is your sweet spot. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to work to continue sharpening your skills. However, it’s the space where you feel the most at like yourself.
Here’s the thing though, if you’ve never experienced moving freely as yourself, you may not recognize it at first. When I was sickest with hypothyroidism, I continued to adapt to my situation until I hit a wall and couldn’t move forward. It wasn’t until I worked with a doctor who finally got my thyroid in range that I began to realize what it actually feels like to be healthy. I had to retrain my mind to understand the difference between feeling sick and healthy.
8 Steps to Take Between Identifying Your Calling and Thriving in Your Sweet Spot
Once you’ve used the 7 Step Actionable Study to clarify your calling, I encourage you to take time to pause and explore all the different ways people with the same calling live in their sweet spots.
Step 1: Consider the Possibilities
Someone with the calling to teach may be a traditional classroom teacher, homeschool, or use their skills to lead Bible studies or Sunday school.
Someone with a calling to social work may work for DCFS, teach social work, or take their skills internationally and work with missions teams to help facilitate proper international adoptions.
You may want to volunteer with an organization or interview some people and ask them about the challenges they experience. For example, ask about what helped them with networking, education requirements, and what they wish they did differently when getting started.
Step 2: Narrow Your Field of Service
You always want to stay willing to serve the people God places in front of you. However, it’s also important to know how to establish boundaries. It’s perfectly fine to say no when asked to help with the kindergartners’ field trip if that is going to be something that will make both you and the kids miserable!
Step 3: Revisit Your Mission Statement
The last step of identifying your calling included writing a mission statement. However, I also noted that this will likely evolve once you’ve gained a clearer understanding of how you can live out your calling and the areas of services you may want to add sub-points to your mission statement.
Step 4: Draft Your Map
You will never fully “arrive” in that your life journey isn’t stagnant. However, you may find that when you are thriving in your sweet spot, it is a part of your life that you will factor into all the other decisions you make.
Here are a few milestones to draft:
- Build a support community of friends and family who will cheer you on
- Build the Know, Like, and Trust factor around your chosen path
- Create a professional network
- Begin earning resume building skills, certifications, and experiences
- Establish yourself as the go-to expert in your niche
- Grow your experiences and networks
- Identify new pain points to solve
- Increase opportunities to serve
- Increase ways to include partners if needed or desired
Step 5: Establish SMART Goals for Every Milestone
Use the Thriving in the Sweet Spot worksheets or a system that works for you, such as power sheets, to set SMART goals for each set of steps you want to focus on. You may find that it’s best to set a few goals for one milestone that you can adjust as you approach them, or you may want to just keep the target set and only establish goals for the milestone you’re currently living through. This likely depends on your personality. It may also be determined by your calling.
Step 6: Maximize Each Milestone
This one can be challenging, depending on your stage of life. However, it’s been my experience that skills build on each other. The stronger your base of knowledge is, the easier it is to improve your skills. By adopting the posture of a life-long learner around your calling, you will always have something new to discover. However, if you don’t have the basics down, it may hinder your ability to expand your opportunities when you are ready.
Step 7: Re-evaluate Your Block Calendar
One of the challenges with pursuing your calling is finding time to move outside the margins of your days. I believe the best way to begin incorporating more time for the things you love into your day is by using a block calendar. This strategy allows you to organized needs and wants and helps you see the gaps of wasted time.
Step 8: Get Accountability and Get Going
Writing a book is a long and time-consuming process that has multiple stages. The thing that helped me the most was my mastermind group. The accountability, encouragement, and advice were vital. When it came time to move on to each stage, this was the group that understood where things were at without needing an extensive explanation. A great accountability partner or mentor will keep you moving forward when things are difficult. They will also celebrate with you when you succeed.
I hope these eight steps help you on your way to thriving in your sweet spot! Curious to learn more about clarifying your calling?
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As the wife of a football coach, Beth Walker encourages women whose families are in the public eye to pursue their own callings even as they support their husbands’ careers and ministries. Through her personal stories as well as interviews with other women who are also living just outside their husbands’ limelight, Beth shows it’s possible to do both.