Intuition is seeing with the soul. – Dean Koontz

“Gee Allyson, sure you wanna do this?” my co-workers said as I prepared to quit my job.

I was a tenured “direct hire” for the U.S. government, which meant iron clad job security for life. But despite my gold-plated healthcare insurance, the job felt light years away from my heart’s true calling.

I trudged to work every morning to the subway surrounded by trench coats, humming to myself, “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.”

By most standards, it was a commendable job working for the U.S. agency that administered foreign aid. The job gave me the opportunity to serve others, but in a paper-pushing sort of way, not the impactful way I truly wanted.

So, when a new job opportunity at a nonprofit came along, I took it even though I had dueling voices in my head regarding whether this job would solve my problems.

Within a few short weeks at the new organization, misery crept in. My new boss told me I had not lived up to my references, and the work was even further away from my heart’s desires.

Months passed, the new job got worse, and I felt an incredible urge to walk away from work life altogether.

But what would I do? I yearned to pursue my life’s true calling, but I wasn’t sure what my calling was. All I knew was I hadn’t yet found it.

So, I decided to set out on a mission to discover my purpose in life, and I hopped on an airplane to eat, pray, and love my way around the world. I took six months off work to travel and to find that special thing I was meant to contribute to the planet.

I submitted my second 2-weeks notice in less than a year, packed a suitcase, and flew to Dublin.

I traveled through Ireland and Scotland, and by the time I arrived to Spain guilt and anxiety gnawed at me because I hadn’t found my calling, and I was running out of money.

I woke one morning in Madrid completely stuck. I didn’t want to look forward, and I didn’t want to look back. The only direction I could turn to was the silence of the present moment. And in that silence I found a voice in my head: the voice of my intuition.

The voice had always been with me, but had been intertwined with the voice of my ego telling me that I should be afraid, I wasn’t good enough, and that I would fail.

I discovered the intuitive voice was a clear guide of love, telling me I was always doing my best. It was from this point that I began following that voice.

In the months to come I forged a new relationship with my intuitive voice and learned to trust it even when it led me down dark paths. With the voice, I knew I’d always be able to ride out the fear until I found the ray of light on the other side of whatever challenge I was facing.

The voice guided me to my next three jobs through three different countries on two continents, doing work I’ve loved. It also guided me to do what makes my heart sing – writing, storytelling, and peace activism – and to serving others in a way that feels impactful to me.

Finding my true calling hasn’t hit me like a ton of bricks in a great, “Aha!” moment as I had hoped, but with each passing day my vision becomes clearer, my path narrower, and my surrender greater to the voice of my higher self guiding me forward.

The following are five steps to finding your intuitive voice and having the courage to listen to it:

1. Recognize your intuitive voice.

For most of my life I didn’t know the difference between my ego voice and my intuitive voice. We all have both. The key is to learn to recognize the difference: the ego voice will act like an inner critic, using negative self-talk to say you’re not good enough. The intuitive voice will act like an inner guide, uplifting you and putting a positive spin or life lesson to every challenging situation.

2. Manage your voices.

When the ego voice is rattling negative thoughts in your head, bring awareness to that negativity, turn those thoughts into floating clouds or falling raindrops, and breath. Then without judging yourself, release the negativity. This will clear the pathways for your intuitive voice to guide you to the thoughts and actions you should be having and taking.

3. Cultivate your intuitive voice.

The best way to allow your intuitive voice into your life is by quieting your mind from its ego-based clutter. One of the most effective ways to do that is through a daily meditation practice. Even as little as 5 minutes a day can have a powerful effect of clearing the pathway of your intuitive voice.

4. Keep Your Moleskin Nearby.

Your voice of intuition will come through for you with life-changing insight when you least expect it. These juicy gems of insight can feel as if a key piece of your life puzzle has just been solved, then to be forgotten 30 minutes later. Always write it down. Better yet, keep a journal where all your intuitive insights are in one place.

5. Your intuitive voice knows better than your mother.

The voice of your intuition is a piece of your higher self. Sometimes that voice will guide you down paths no one else is on, and everyone in your life, including your mother, will caution you to take the safer route. Always stay true to your higher self, because no one on the planet knows what’s better for you.

Remember, your intuitive voice may not take you in the direction you want to go, but it will always take you in the direction you need to go.

What have you done to cultivate your intuitive voice? Has it ever guided you to a dark and scary place only to give you exactly what you needed in the end?

Photo by martinak15

Allyson Stroschein

Allyson Stroschein is the off-the-beaten-path traveler, life coach, and peace activist behind Shanti Pax, a blog offering tips for peaceful and creative living. Learn more at ShantiPax.com, and connect on Twitter.