Individuals who have a ‘calling’ do work which is a source of both personal and social meaning. They find their work enjoyable for its own sake and feel that it makes a valuable contribution to society or improving the world in some way. People with a calling feel strongly drawn to pursue their work and think of it as a core part of who they are – so their work is central to their identity. It’s possible for people to have more than one calling at the same time, either over the course of their life or even concurrently.
Importantly, callings are not restricted to high status or highly paid jobs but can be any role, at any level. The same occupation may be experienced as a calling by one person but not others. Unfortunately too many people tend to regard their work merely as a means to an end – to pay for necessities and support their families (‘a job’) or as a route to achievement or prestige (‘a career’) rather than a source of real fulfillment and meaning.
Callings are generally associated with benefits such as increased job and life satisfaction and health, regardless of level of income, education or type of occupation. People with callings are less likely to suffer from stress and depression, or have conflict between work and non-work parts of their lives. Being unable to pursue a known calling has been linked to frustration or regret, which can undermine psychological well being and job performance.
The search for a calling can be associated with indecision and confusion about our own identity. However as our work is such a big part of our lives, it is often worth some discomfort and soul-searching to find your true purpose.