How do I find my calling? The first steps to a meaningful career that fits
How do I find my calling? The first steps to a meaningful career that fits
How do I find a meaningful career? What is my calling? As a Life and Career Coach, Janina Grüger often works through questions like these together with her clients. In this article, she shares her tips on the steps you can take towards a fulfilling career.
One of the most common questions clients come to me with is, “How do I find my calling?” It’s a preoccupation shared by many of us. No matter whether you call it a calling or a vocation, or even a dream job, it essentially all comes down to the same desire: wanting to have a meaningful career.
The following questions and prompts for actions are designed to help you take the first steps on your path to finding your calling. But first, let’s take a look at what a calling is.
The definition of “calling”
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a calling as "a strong inner impulse towards a particular course of action”. At the same time, one of the ways they define “profession” is a “calling requiring specialised knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.
Isn’t it interesting that this definition refers to a calling? I don’t know about you, but when I had to decide what career path to take, I can’t recall ever being asked to look for what I felt called to do.
The first steps to a career that fits
In order to find your calling, you first have to free yourself from the expectations of your environment and from comparisons with other people. I know this isn’t easy. But now is the time to focus on yourself.
The following questions will help you to take a first look at your personality and desires. I suggest you grab your journal or start a digital document to record your thoughts. This way you can always refer back to your notes, which will help you to discover common threads in your answers later on.
What are your strengths, talents and skills?
In order to find a job that fits, you should learn more about your own personality. Look at yourself in a loving way and ask yourself what character traits are typical of you. Which characteristics best describe you? What distinguishes you from others? How would your friends describe you? Just start writing down all the adjectives you can think of.
Now take a look at your skills. What comes easily to you? What are you often praised for? And most of all: Which of these activities do you enjoy? Create a list of verbs. This, too, can give you hints about your calling.
What interests and passions do you have?
What do you like doing with your time? Or - to put it another way - if you were given more time, what would you like to spend it on? Many of my clients find the term passion difficult. “Follow your passion” is easier said than done! So instead I say, "Follow your curiosity!" What are you curious about? What do you want to know more about?
Take a look at your childhood, too. What did you enjoy doing as a child? What did you want to become when you were older?
What are your needs?
What are the key conditions a job has to fulfil for you to feel like you can be yourself? What needs must be met so that you feel comfortable in your workplace? What gives you energy instead of draining you?
If your basic needs aren't met in your profession, you will sooner or later feel uncomfortable. This does not mean that there will be no tasks you dislike or that you will never be confronted with challenging people. But those things shouldn’t be the norm.
What's your “Why”?
I believe that, in order to be passionate about your work, you need a “Why”. To find out what drives you from the inside, you have to detach yourself from what you’ve been told on the outside.
It’s necessary to question the beliefs that have been put upon you by your family, your education and by society. Check whether they (still) apply to you and ask yourself: What's important to me?
If you find this difficult, try the following questions:
- If you were guaranteed success and nothing could go wrong, what would you do? What would be different?
- If you had the power to bring something into the world, what would it be? What would you like to change?
Finding your own “Why” is an exciting journey. In coaching sessions my coachees and I look at events in their lives where they have felt special in order to identify what that means for their calling.
From calling to profession
If you answered all the questions above, you have already taken an important step towards your dream job. Now it's time to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Look at everything you have written down. Can you identify any common threads or patterns?
Find possible jobs through brainstorming
Your calling doesn't necessarily have to be assigned to a specific profession. There are probably multiple different ways of living your calling. Some people pursue their calling primarily in private life. But if you want to make your calling your profession, it's time for a brainstorming session.
Think about which professions would suit your personality and desires. Write down any ideas that come to your mind when you read through your answers to the questions above. You can do this by yourself, but it’s even better to do it with someone else you can trust.
Find out more about possible career options
Now you need to find out as much as possible about the careers that interest you. As well as doing research online, you should take a look at your circle of friends and professional network. Do you or your friends know people who already do similar work? Get connected! The answers to your questions are out there, in the people who know more than you do.
For example, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to work with people in a 1:1 setting and guide them towards a better and happier life. There were a few options on my list. One of those was to become a speech therapist. So what did I do? I took a few days off, talked to some speech therapists and was actually able to take a few trial days to see what the job would look like. Turned out, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
Uncovering the path to your dream job
If you have one or more job descriptions that really excite you, it’s time to find out what the entry requirements are. It’s important not to lose your motivation at this point. Keep in mind that there are many ways to educate yourself, especially in today's digital world. And be patient. If this is your calling, it'll be worthwhile to invest some time.
For most people, this phase is the most frightening. They think that they have to get it "right” this time and that this next job has to be the perfect match. They put a lot of pressure on themselves and their career.
Please be aware that most decisions can be undone. More than anything else, it's a learning experience for the time being. There are many paths to a meaningful life and a meaningful career, not just one. But in order to find out, we must be brave enough to try.
I know that it’s not easy to find your calling and a meaningful career that fits. The questions in this article are only the beginning. It's a complex process and there are other pieces to the puzzle.
Would you like a coach by your side to guide you through this process and help you find your calling? Or perhaps you would just like support to bring more purpose and happiness into your life and career? Visit Janina on her website to arrange a Discovery Session or email her with any questions you have regarding coaching.