As children, many of us have been told that we can be whatever we want to be. We were told to find jobs and careers that make us happy and give us purpose. We want to find our purpose and believe it will help us lead happier and fuller lives. But how important is it to find our calling? And what can you do if your job is not your calling?

What is a calling?

Research shows that people look for jobs that match their core personal values and give them purpose. This purpose is referred to as a ‘calling’ in much of the research. A calling is a job or career that someone feels drawn to, expects to be enjoyable and meaningful, and sees as a central part of their identity. You want to do a job, you think it will be fun, and you want to be known for having that job.

Let me use myself as an example. I’ve always been drawn to learning about people. I thought psychology would be an interesting and fun field where I can help others (without having to see blood!) So, I became a psychologist. Being a psychologist is a huge part of who I am and I want others to know that about me too.

Does it matter if you have a calling?

Yes! Having a calling matters. People who believe they are doing their calling are more satisfied with their life, health, and job than others. They have higher well-being overall. In other words, if you see your job as answering your 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 achieve higher status.

However, not being able to answer your calling can be harmful. If you feel like you can’t pursue your passion, 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 none 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 at all.

What do you do if you aren’t answering your calling?

So, what can you do if you have a calling that you are unable to pursue in your current job? One obvious answer would be to find a job that meets your purpose. What does that job look like and how can you get there? Make a clear plan! Update your resume to match the new role, go get the training that may help your career transition, and start applying!

However, sometimes that is not possible and leaving your current career is not an option. Also, some people have multiple callings! If you have many callings, you may not be able to leave a full-time job in one area to answer all of your other unanswered callings. There are a few techniques you can use to help you get closer to answering your callings in your current job!

Task Emphasizing

This technique is about spending additional time, energy, or attention on an assigned work task that is related to your purpose. 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.

Job Expanding

When you expand your job, you add tasks or take on new projects that address your calling. Keeping 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.

Role Reframing

With role reframing, you change the way you think about your job. You find the connections between your current work and your calling. As a realtor, you may already be working with technology in several ways that are important to your performance. You need to promote your listings, so you use social media. You need to take good pictures of the properties, so you learn how to use drones. This technique helps you mentally focus on the parts of the job that align with your purpose. Spending more time thinking about what in your job lets you pursue your calling in some way, helps to remind you of how you may already be answering it.

Hobbies, Volunteering, and Side Hustles

Finally, if you can’t do anything on the job that is related to your calling, you always have the option of answering that calling outside of work. Going back to the realtor example, not every type of purpose can be figured out within that job. If your calling is to help improve people’s health, there are fewer options within your job than outside of it. Maybe you decide to take a yoga teacher training and begin teaching yoga on the side. Or maybe you train to become a volunteer EMT. You can answer your calling in so many ways, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

Final Thoughts

In sum, it’s important to achieve your purpose! It is important in improving your well-being and satisfaction with your life and career. As you’ve learned above, there are many ways you can answer your calling – you just need to figure out which way is right for you. It can be intimidating to change your career or shift your job around but it is so worth it. Don’t let fear hold you back!

If you want to hear more about this topic, check out this podcast!

About The Author:

Patricia Grabarek, PhD, is an organizational psychologist and co-founder of Workr Beeing, a workplace wellness website and podcast. Along with her co-founder, Katina Sawyer, PhD, she works to share research and tips on how to reduce stress in the workplace and improve your overall work life.

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