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Episode #77: How to Find Out What Your Calling Is

Find Out What Your Calling Is…

Welcome to the Confident Careerist podcast. I’m your host Teena Evert, and I’m so glad you are tuning in to today’s episode.

If you don’t know me, I am the host of the Confident Careerist podcast, CEO at Claim the Lead, and the Founder of Career Choice Academy. We help working adults and students make career choices and transform an existing career path to be confident in their future.

Before I dive into today’s topic, I want you to go How to Figure Out a Clear Direction for Your Career Path and download my free audio training, where you’ll learn three strategies to help you find clarity and gain confidence towards building a career and life you love.

In today’s episode, I’m going to talk about finding out what your calling is and how this can change your life at work.

I this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to define the word “calling” as it applies to your career
  • What specifically it means for you to approach your career as a calling
  • How the word calling may apply to areas of your life other than work

First, let’s talk about what a calling is, particularly when it comes to your vocation.

What is a calling? 

The word “calling” as it applies to one’s career has been described by working adults and students as:

  • A guiding force (God, God’s gifts, or destiny)
  • An internal source such as an inner drive or passion; an instinct or pull toward a particular field or career
  • Having a solid fit between your gifts, desires, and a sense of purpose with a specific job that results in growth, clarity, and happiness
  • It’s a feeling that can’t be explained, a feeling to be apart of something to better oneself and others
  • Making a positive impact on others 
  • Being led to something because it helps others, not just oneself
  • Placing responsibility on you to approach work with special effort and dedication
  • Anything you feel drawn to do for some reason, explainable or not
  • Meaningful work based on your interests and values

With that said, the common themes about how people think of callings are:

  • The notion of a guiding force.
  • A sense of personal “fit” with a job.
  • Altruistic attitudes that align with a broader sense of meaning and purpose provide benefits of well-being.

Callings have primarily lost a religious connotation and are defined in the secular sense as enjoyable or pleasurable work that the individual believes is making the world a better place.

How is your calling different than your purpose? 

A calling is the alignment of one’s work purpose with a life purpose. A purpose is your intention to accomplish something that matters deeply to you, benefiting the world.

Many people describe an overarching sense of purpose in life, and then more specific purposes within particular life roles (e.g., career, family, marriage, volunteer, citizen, leisure). In general, when those more specific purposes align with one’s broader sense of purpose in life, well-being results.

Research reveals that people who experience a sense of purpose in the career domain tend to report tremendous benefits in their career-related and general well-being. Compared to people who lack a sense of purpose, people who DO experience a sense of purpose:

  • Are more confident and comfortable in their career choices
  • Are happier at work
  • They are more committed to their careers and their organizations
  • Put in more effort at work
  • Feel that life as a whole is more meaningful and satisfying

Purpose, calling, and meaning in work 

  • A calling may derive a sense of purpose, as when a person’s work contributes to the meaning of meaning experienced in life. 
  • A calling may involve demonstrating a sense of purpose as when someone with a clear understanding of purpose and meaning in life finds work to be an outlet for expressing that purpose and meaning in life. 
  • When people have a calling, their sense of purpose and meaning in work aligns with their broader sense of purpose and meaning in life, giving the person a sense of stability and coherence in life.
  • Those with a calling understand how their work contributes; they can put into words the difference they make, whatever its magnitude. Not only that, but those with a calling do what they do because of the difference it makes. Enhancing the common good is probably not the only motivation behind their work, but it is a central one.

How do you find out what your calling is? 

People sometimes talk about needing to find a calling like a set of keys buried under their seat cushions – something they are waiting to discover. They expect that once they find it, they will stop searching and instead revel in the enjoyment of doing the perfect job. 

How do you build your calling? 

In contrast, a calling is an ongoing process. Approaching work as a calling includes choosing a career path, but it doesn’t stop there; in fact, it starts there. 

Choosing a career is just the beginning and an entry point to a lifestyle of ongoing reflection and active shaping of one’s job in ways that make it more likely for a sense of purpose in life to align with one’s activities in work, intending to make a difference for others. 

A calling is not only a career path that a person chooses to pursue but that a person creates and cultivates. Even people who have not landed in their ideal career can nevertheless craft or reframe their work, transforming it into a calling – or, more accurately, transforming it into a vehicle for living out their calling. 

A calling has little to do with a person’s actual job and everything to do with how they approach that job.

Let’s take a look at the results of scientific studies of calling to examine the truth of claims people make about what makes work meaningful and how people can find and create meaning on the job. 

People who have significant concerns about their work can use this information to make better decisions about their careers.

Research on Calling and Meaningful Work

Research answers the questions: What difference does it make to have a calling? Are people with callings better off than people with other approaches to work? 

The answer is Yes, in terms of what people experience at work and within their lives. 

The research results show that people with callings are more confident that they can make good decisions about their careers, more committed to their jobs and organizations, more intrinsically motivated and engaged, and more satisfied with their jobs. 

They also are happier, more satisfied with life, cope more effectively with challenges, are less likely to suffer from stress and depression, and express a stronger sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. 

People with callings are more satisfied with their work because they are more committed to it. Those with callings experience a greater sense of well-being and psychological adjustment because they have a positive view of themselves and feel that life is meaningful. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that a person has to be living out the calling to experience its benefits.

When people experience work as meaningful and as a means of benefiting others, they tend to experience a stronger sense of well-being in their careers and life. 

Research on Career Choice and Development

Frank Parson, known as the “father of vocational psychology” and his deceptively simple formula for making sound career choices – is a Person-Environment Fit Model and the Formula for making sound career choices follows these three steps:

  1. Gain a clear sense of yourself
  2. Gain a clear understanding of opportunities that are available in the world of work
  3. Using “true reasoning” to find a good match between who you are as a person and the job

Career decisions do not happen in a vacuum, but always in life, and our lives are complicated. People have all kinds of commitments and responsibilities; some are central, and some exist on the fringes, but all change and fluctuate over time. 

People also change; they ripen with age. Circumstances change, along with economies and occupational fields that are never static. All of this needs consideration when one seeks to identify, develop, and live out a calling in work, possibly among other callings in other spheres of life.

Building successful careers requires more than simply having the requisite talent, motivation, and opportunity. A successful career also needs the consistent belief that one can do what is needed well and that doing what has required leads to outcomes that matter. 

When facing obstacles, people can mold and shape their work into something that encourages, facilitates, and provides a means of living out their callings.

The Career Choice Academy offers digital courses designed to help working adults and students explore, discover, and create a sense of calling at work. We provide practical guidelines for discerning a calling regarding making career choices and transforming an existing career path.

In conclusion, I want to encourage you to reflect on your work and life and how the concept of calling might transform your path. 

The road to a calling may be a surprising one that is more accessible than you might have imagined possible. 

For some, pursuing a calling may require identifying and living out a new career path; for others, it may be possible to approach your current path – even your current job – in a new and different way that crafts it into a calling. 

Either way, we are hopeful that the Career Choice Academy will help illuminate your path and give you the tools to be confident in your future.

If you’d like to learn more, let’s chat!

Until next time, Be Confident. 

Teena