Many of us have been told that we can be whatever we want to be. We have been encouraged to find the career that gives us meaning and happiness. There are even tips in popular media on how to find your calling. But how important is it to have a calling? And what can you do if your job doesn’t align with your calling?
Research indicates that people often look for jobs that fulfill core personal values and give them purpose. Many of us look for our calling. A calling is an occupation that someone feels drawn to, expects to be enjoyable and meaningful, and sees as a central part of their identity.
Hopefully some of you have experienced this! It’s that feeling when you know you are meant to be doing something. You feel like the work you are doing is important and is part of who you are.
Does having a calling matter?
The simple answer is yes. People who believe they are doing their calling are more satisfied with their life, health, and job. They have higher well-being overall. People who are doing their calling are also better off than people that feel like they have no calling. In other words, if you see your job as a calling, you are more satisfied in your life and in work than if you only see your job as a way to make money or as a means to higher prestige.
However, there is a downside to having a calling if you aren’t actually working in the area of your calling. If you feel like you can’t pursue your calling, your well-being suffers. You are likely to feel frustration, disappointment, and regret. It’s actually worse to have an unanswered calling than to feel like you have no calling at all. You are less likely to be engaged at work, committed to your job, satisfied in your life and job. You are also more likely to feel anxiety and depression than those without a calling.
How can you answer an unanswered calling?
So what can you do if you have a calling that you are unable to pursue in your current job? The obvious answer would be to find a job that answers your calling. However, sometimes that is not possible and leaving your current career is not an option. Also, some people have multiple callings! You might not be able to leave your full-time job in one area to pursue all of your other unanswered callings. One study outlines a few techniques that you can use to help you get closer to answering your unanswered callings.
This technique is about spending additional time, energy, or attention on an assigned task that is related to your unanswered calling. For example, if you feel called to work in tech but are currently a realtor, you might spend extra time working on your website than someone else would. In other words, you make more time to do the parts of the job you love.
When you expand your job, you add tasks or take on new projects that are in the area of your unanswered calling. Continuing with the realtor example, you might volunteer to be on a team to revamp the company site or implement a new company-wide system. You might also become the go-to person on the team to help others update their listings on the site. So, if you don’t already have a focus on technology in your job, you try to make it a part of your job.
You can also change the way you think about your job. You can find the connections between your current work and what you believe your calling is. For example, as a realtor, you may already be working with technology in a number of ways that are meaningful to meeting your goals. You need to promote your listings, so you use social media. You have to take good pictures of the properties, so you learn how to use drones. This strategy allows you mentally focus on the aspects of your work that align with your unanswered calling. Spending more time thinking about the parts of your job that let you pursue your calling in some way, helps you to remind yourself how you may already be answering it.
Using one of these techniques to help you answer your calling can help you find meaning in your current work. In addition to these techniques, you can look to pursue your unanswered calling in your leisure time. However, that can create some stress since your time is much more limited. But, side hustles are getting much more prevalent as more and more people try to pursue their passion and answer their callings. So, it’s a possibility if you feel you have the time to spend pursuing your calling outside of work!
In sum, if you feel like you are answering your calling to some extent, you will generally feel happier and more satisfied. Try out these tips or maybe you have some of your own! If so, let us know! We’d love to hear what works for you in helping you answer your calling.