Careers and Callings: Finding Your Passion and Mission

by Vincent, Mary Jeanne Thursday, August 13, 2009
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Are you doing what you love to do? Does your work have meaning? What's your mission? Do you have a calling?

Growing up in the Midwest I knew a few people who had a calling - they were destined to be doctors, lawyers, or members of the clergy. The rest of us were destined to have jobs. Hoo boy, what fun!

Today that has changed. As a career coach, I often work with clients who are at crossroads in their life. Sometimes it is the result of corporate downsizing, personal circumstances, reaching a career milestone, or the death of a loved one. Regardless, they are ready for a change. Nearly all of my clients at one time or other express a desire for work that has meaning; work that allows them to use their own particular skills and abilities while honoring their personal values. In other words, work that they have been called to do.

Again we come to the hard questions: Are you doing what you love to do? Does your work have meaning? If not, why not?

Do you have a calling? Emphatically, yes! What's your mission? Ah, that is for you to discover. Here are some suggestions for finding your passion and mission:

1. Review your childhood fantasies. What did you dream of doing, becoming? Think about how you can connect those fantasies with work that you can and want to do today.

2. Read the biographies of your heroes and heroines. Their stories encourage us; in other words, fill us with courage when the going gets rough.

3. Peruse the obituaries in the newspaper, and then write your own. For what do you want to be remembered? Get busy now, life happens whether we plan it or not.

4. Invite a trusted friend for lunch and ask her what she thinks you do well. Request specific examples and clue her in on your reason for asking. Later dissect these examples. Ask yourself, "Do I enjoy using those skills? How else, where else, and in what circumstances might I make use of these skills.?"

5. Write out your accomplishments, those specific successes that you remember about your life. Start with grade school or as far back as you can remember. These can be personal, family-related, or professional successes; they may be well publicized or very private.

6. Give up one old and useless habit and replace it with one that brings you closer to your true calling. You might decide to take a class, volunteer, join a work-related professional association, or spend more time with someone you love.

There are books, instruments, and resources that can help you determine your skills, values, and personal gifts. Sometimes they help you discover things about yourself that you didn't know, other times they clarify and affirm what you already know.

Whatever tools or resources you choose to use, take advantage of them now. Next year you will be a year older, if you start now you could be doing work you love and not just thinking about it.

Copywrite. Mary Jeanne Vincent