As long as I can remember, I have wanted to make a useful contribution to the world, and do the 'right' kind of work... the work I was 'meant' to do.
In my teens and early adulthood I thought of becoming a priest, although not seriously enough to go to seminary.
I studied business and agriculture in university.
After my first wife died I thought again of the priesthood, and even took a two-year Bible study course and taught adult Bible study for a couple of years, but eventually realized I would make a poor priest as I had no interest in the running of a church.
That left me wondering what I did want to do.
By the time I reached 40, I had been a cross-cultural adult educator, native co-op development officer, guide and outfitter, oilpatch maintenance crew foreman, drilling rig roughneck, host of a weekly farm tv show, and television news reporter. Each time I started a new job I thought it might be 'the one', but eventually I always ended up feeling restless, and wondering 'what I should do when I grew up'.
The first guidance I got in looking for my 'right livelihood' was a Life Goal exercise in the book "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life" by Alan Lakein. It was published in 1972 and is out of print now, but you can find the Life Goal exercise here. The exercise was quite powerful, and it helped me get clear about the general direction I wanted to take... helping people have better lives... and I thought I would like to do international development.
I was in my second marriage by that time, and my wife did not want to go overseas, especially to work in a third-world village, which is what I had in mind, so I gave up on the idea.
I already knew, from my experience teaching in a native community in northern Alberta, that it takes at least two years, and maybe longer, to learn enough about a different culture to be useful, so I wasn't sure I would make much of a contribution anyway.
A year before my second wife and I separated, I went to a "Shalom" retreat organized by the church I was attending (by this time I had joined the Moravian church). This was a very powerful retreat, led by a man who had a retreat centre in the Catskill mountains in New York state. He came to Edmonton to lead these retreats every February.
The retreat started on Thursday evening and ended Sunday afternoon. By Saturday night I felt very 'tuned in' spiritually, and as I was walking in the evening, and thinking about all the blessings in my life, I suddenly had a vision of the 'Soul of the Earth'. It is difficult to describe, but it was as though I was seeing it with both my eyes and my mind.
What I saw was a beautiful emerald green presence, which felt very powerful but also vulnerable. At that moment I was aware that we humans were damaging it.
The vision only lasted a minute or two, but it had a major impact on me. After reflecting on it for a few days, I decided that my life mission would be "to help people take better care of the earth".
I have always been a lover of the earth, and this decision felt right for me.
Now that I had a mission, I needed to figure out what action to take. Knowing that agriculture can be very hard on the ecosystem if not practised sustainably, and knowing that most of our agriculture practices are not sustainable, I decided to start there.
I already had a Bachelors degree in agriculture, and a farming background, plus I had reported on agriculture for many years, so I decided to quit my job as a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and go back to university to see whether I could discover a method of farming that is not so hard on the land and the people.
I earned a Masters degree in agriculture, and during my research I discovered a management framework known as Holistic Management. , and after taking training in it, began to teach it.
One of the greatest gifts of having a sense of Life Purpose, or Life Mission is the clarity it provides in deciding what to do with my life.
Like many other people, new career opportunities have presented themselves to me from time to time. In the past if something looked interesting, I would try it. Now, if it is not in line with my mission, I don't. I know 'where I am going', and I only do things that take me in the right direction.