Purpose and Profession: How to Find and Follow Your Calling

Purpose and Profession: How to Find and Follow Your Calling

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Part of self-actualization is not only working, but satisfaction in that work. Thus the question becomes: How do we find work that truly speaks to us?

Most people have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the pyramid that shows the components of life that every human inextricably requires access to so they may achieve fulfilment. The framework is so famous that knowledge of its existence and at least a few of its proposed criteria are not relegated to those in counseling careers, but has penetrated the social atmosphere of most developed nations.

At the top of the pyramid lies “Self Actualization,” the process by which a person solidifies their sense of self and purpose. While this constitutes one of Maslow’s “higher needs,” it represents the ideal state in which a human exists. Complete knowledge of, and satisfaction with, oneself and their life. Part of self-actualization is not only working, but satisfaction in that work. Thus the question becomes: How do we find work that truly speaks to us?

Passion and Your “Calling”

“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Possibly one of the most common statements around job-hunting and yet, absolute nonsense. No matter how passionate a person is, work will always be work. While you may love what your work entails, there will inevitably be parts of it that drive you up the wall.

This is what passion is.

What do you love so much, that even the bad parts of it are worth it?

So is your passion your calling? Not necessarily. Your calling is what you feel compelled to do in your heart of hearts. What is it that sets your soul on fire? What is the idea in your brain you can’t let go of? The unscratchable itch that you feel would help you leave behind a better world?

To put it more plainly, your passion is the tool with which you answer your calling.

Finding Your Calling

Finding your calling isn’t going to be the easiest thing you do. After all, it is likely within a part of yourself that you may not acknowledge all that often depending on your mentality and circumstances. It requires a great deal of introspection and abstract thought, so how can we streamline this process?

Well, get ready for a lot of note-taking.

As we said, finding your calling takes a lot of abstract thought, and it’s generally easier to organize these thoughts when you can list them out in front of you and review them.

The first thing you should do is examine your past. Look at hobbies or jobs you’ve held throughout your life, or at special memories. What was it you enjoyed about them? What did they make you feel? What does this suggest about your character? These questions will help you better assess not only where you find joy and satisfaction, but what you value. What you hold dear to your truest, personal self. Identifying your energy is a very important part of ascertaining your calling, and knowing what you derive enjoyment from is the first step in recognizing what your vocation is.

If you discover that you’ve yet to find anything that ignites this part of you, it may be worth stepping out of your comfort zone. Do some research on community groups or volunteer groups in your area. It is normal to feel some trepidation around this. However, if your current status quo has nothing going for you, it may be time to shake things up a bit.

Finding Your Passion

Passion is where calling meets productivity. It’s the action you undertake to fulfill your calling. If the previous exercise yielded results, the next step is to work out what activities fulfill your calling. If your calling is, say, making an impact, there are lots of ways you can interpret that. You can make an impact in the life of kids by being a social worker. You could make an impact on your area by becoming a member of your local council. Maybe your calling is to protect others, so you join the military or a security company. Or maybe you’re interested in local history and your calling is showing others the wonders of your community. Try being a tour guide, or travel agent, maybe even starting a local bed-and-breakfast.

However, there is also another element to your passion: who it involves. If you’re introverted, you likely won’t be passionate about a job that has you interacting with 30 or more people a day. Let’s say you’ve identified your calling as helping others, so you take a job as a tech support agent. Your introverted self is going to be dealing with a lot of people, many of whom are angry and annoyed at the outset of their interaction with you. Therefore although the job answers your calling, it does not answer your passion. Consider not only what your calling is, but the type of environment that caters to your personality and well-being.

There are lots of ways that a calling can be met, and no calling has just one solution. Try to be creative about your interpretation of your calling. Research, experiment, and try new things. Maybe even try attending therapy. Therapists are trained to specifically help you work through these kinds of scenarios. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and many people find it to be effective to soundboard their thoughts and mental processes with a trained professional.

Purpose and Profession

It’s important to remember that life is so much more than work. Although there can be a sense of purpose of fulfillment to one’s life gained through work, working in and of itself is not the reason that people live. We work to facilitate life. Although getting a job is harder than some are willing to admit, there’s also no shame in taking your time and finding out what vocation truly speaks to you.

In the words of Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, “If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

Passion and Profession

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