Most everyone would like to be in a career that they feel is their “calling”. The career that most utilizes their strengths, skills, passions, and knowledge. A career that they feel they were designed for.
For some it may be a spiritual calling… a task, job, or career that they believe God is calling them to do. For others it may be a calling of their passion… a career that satisfies a deep desire they’ve had for a long time. An example may be a calling to be a Doctor or Olympic Athlete. For some it may be a calling out of a great desire to serve… perhaps in civil service, the military, or in social services.
Statistically, the large majority of people have no idea what their “calling” may be, and feel they are not in a job that they would identify as a calling. So… do you have a calling? Do you know what it is? Are you following it? Is it necessary to have, and work in a calling???
Each person has to decide that for themselves. However here are some observations…
The idea of a calling for everyone’s career is a relatively new idea! It has really been mostly in the last few generations that people in western countries have focused on the idea that everyone should pursue their calling in their careers. For most of history, people viewed their work as a means to provide for their family’s needs and perhaps create a better lifestyle. Certainly they could still find meaning and satisfaction in their work, however, the idea of their work being the career they were meant to pursue was seldom considered.
There have always been some people that felt they had a calling or specific purpose in their work. However, that was more an exception than the rule. As western culture has progressed, and more career choices have become available, conventional wisdom has gradually changed to say that each person ought to pursue what they feel most passionate about. Sounds good… however most people feel their own life falls short.
Many people find their calling IN their career! Through recruiting for nearly 25 years, and leading job search classes, my observation has been that the vast majority of people have no idea what their calling may be. They either don’t know what they’d really like to do in life, or don’t know how to have a sense of purpose in their work.
In my own case, I “fell” into a career as a recruiter 25 years ago. I simply took a job that was offered to me at the time. I never had a dream of becoming a recruiter or felt that this career would fulfill my purpose on this earth… even after I had been in it for a few years.
However, over time, I came to realize that this career really had become my calling. In it, I’ve been able to help companies find solutions to their problems by finding the right people for their circumstances. I’ve been able to help people find the job of their dreams, often helping them fulfill their calling. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people about their personal concerns and worries as they make one of the more difficult decisions of their lives… a job or career change. I’ve been able to offer advice and solutions to people who didn’t know what options they had. I’ve had the privilege of impacting people’s lives for the better!
As my career developed, I found that I really loved my job! I found purpose and meaning in what I do. And I found that by doing my job! Not by looking for a job that might fulfill my purpose.
Find your purpose where you are! It may be easy to point to my job, or someone else’s and think… “Sure, I can see how that job can be a calling, but not mine, I’m a _________.”
Over the years I’ve seen people find meaning and purpose for all kinds of jobs. No job is so insignificant or trivial to be meaningless. A Farmer may find their calling in feeding the world. An Accountant may find meaning in ensuring efficient and ethical practices in business. A machinist may find purpose in providing products that make life easier or production more efficient for others. Even a fast-food worker can find satisfaction in providing food and cheer to people seeking to satisfy their cravings.
There are no careers that can’t have an aspect of calling or purpose for those that do it.
Don’t let the culture minimize your calling! People become disenchanted in many areas of their lives because they buy into lies that the surrounding culture seems to tell them. They come to believe they have to be a certain weight, exude a certain style, live in a certain neighborhood, or have a certain kind of career to be valued. They come to believe that there is no purpose in their job because others don’t seem to consider it worthy. I believe each job is defined by the person doing it, and how they view their role, rather than by what others think.
A janitor with a sense of purpose in their work, with an understanding of the importance of what they do for the greater good, has a much greater sense of calling than a Doctor who goes through the motions each day simply for a large paycheck. It’s never a good idea to base your career choices on what others tell you are worthy ones or not. I met with someone recently that feels he is less than he could have been because he dropped out of medical school and became a teacher. Each person has to decide for themselves what they really want to do, however, I view his ability to teach and influence the next generation as a very high calling in life. He’s had people tell him he ‘blew it’, and he bought that lie. Don’t let the world set your self-worth!
If you know yours… Just Do It! For the minority of people in this world who truly do have a calling, clearly know what it is, and have a passion for it… it’s a shame when they don’t pursue it. Certainly, for many people there are realities that make it difficult. Perhaps you have to support a family and can’t afford to make a change that would not allow you to pay your bills. Perhaps your calling requires schooling, relocation, or to overcome other obstacles that make it seem prohibitive. However, anyone, in any circumstance, can begin planning and taking steps to reach that goal. Ultimately, people are so much more effective, happy, and usually more prosperous when they are doing what they believe they are called to do.
I know someone that had been a successful Vice-President at a large insurance company, but felt called to be an Optometrist. He was already middle-aged and had a mortgage, small children, car payments, and all the typical “chains” to keep him in his current job. However, over a period of a few years, he made plans and took steps to arrange his finances and other aspects of his life to quit his job, go back to school full-time and gain his Doctor of Optometry license. He went on to build a great career and much happier and fulfilled life. It was extraordinarily difficult, but he made it happen and is glad he did. Are you willing to do what it takes?
What is your calling? Do you have one you know you should pursue? Is it a matter of finding purpose in your current job? Are you finding that what you do now has greater meaning than you originally thought? Or have you let others around you snuff out your hopes and sense of purpose? Examine yourself and decide!
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.