Have You Found Your Calling?

By on January 12, 2017

Vocation/ Calling:
Vocation and calling are often used interchangeably because they have similar definitions. Vocation is defined as a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work and calling as a strong inner impulse toward a course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence. Both are heavily associated with religious work, but have come to be used in a broader sense.
Finding your calling is appealing because it promises to bring a sense of certainty, passion and conviction that most people lack in their work. Unfortunately, the strong feelings of desire, duty and divine influence that these words imply can leave you with the nagging sense of doubt that you’re missing out if you aren’t madly passionate about every part of your work every day. Chasing after these strong emotions and convictions is a wild goose chase, because even people who have found their calling refer to days they were going through the motions or even questioned their path.
Since so many religions portray the divine as a power outside of oneself, the desire for divine inspiration to guide you towards meaningful work can be counterproductive. Why? If you are focused on listening for divine guidance, you are going to be less tuned in to your own internal guidance, a critical factor in not only finding but sustaining fulfilling work.
A related quest involves seeking your mission in life. Defined as, a specific task with which a person or group is charged, this word is strongly associated with the military. Perhaps more so than calling and vocation, this word carries strong implications of a directive handed down from an authority outside yourself. As many people who have experimented with the entrepreneur path and gone back to corporate life can attest, it can be much less stressful to sit back and wait for others to direct you than to chart your own path, accept the consequences of your actions, and risk being the leader whose actions are being judged by others.
Ikigai
Translated as life purpose or reason for living, this Japanese word comes closer to bringing together the ideas of mission, calling and vocation and infusing them with the energy of an internally driven sense of passion and purpose. It is also less daunting than the concept of calling, as a person’s ikigai need not be huge and world changing. Grandchildren, a hobby, helping friends in the community and the humblest of jobs can all contribute to an ikigai that brings meaning to life and contributes to the world around you, even though they aren’t likely to make the six o’clock news.
The Real Meaning of Work
At a fundamental level, work is simply the effort to do or make something, so the key to finding a word that properly expresses what our soul desires from our work is to ask, “What is it we are ultimately exerting effort to make?”
The truth is that work is not about making stuff or providing services. Whether you are making donuts or electric cars, work at its finest is about our efforts to make and remake ourselves. Work has the power to make or break us precisely because the choices we make about why we work, how we work, and whose mission we choose to be in service to are as much about how we create ourselves as they are about how we impact our world.
Embrace Awareness
Awareness is the first step is the first step towards creating a life worth living and doing work that matters. You might be tempted to think that it is navel-gazing to contemplate definitions of the various words we use for work, but history has long shown that words have power. The words we use – whether we use them consciously or unconsciously – define our identity as well as our actions. As awareness increases, you will naturally become more conscious of not only what you are doing or creating, but why it is being created and how much value it is bringing to the world. This awareness will eventually cause you to make different choices.
Discipline creates freedom
Fulfilling work will forever elude you if you rely on other people and their systems to provide the structure that you refuse to impose on yourself. Being an entrepreneur gives freedom, but successful entrepreneurs choose to give up many things voluntarily in the short term to pursue their goals of freedom, autonomy and mastery over the long term.

The truth is that you can’t have it all and have it now. There are always trade-offs and compromises. There is no magic pill that comes with the discovery of your purpose, calling, career or profession. The good news? Becoming more conscious of how you think and talk about work is all that you need to do to change what you get out of it. Like Dorothy’s red shoes, you always had exactly what you needed to go home.

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on Amazon.com). She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at www.kyoseiconsulting.com

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