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Hear that? It's your purpose calling. And it wants you to listen

May 5, 2022 - 16 min read


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What is a calling?

How do I find my calling?

Career vs. job vs. calling

Which calling orientation do you have right now?

5 examples of career callings

How to distinguish your hobby from your calling

Remember: You’re worth it

We all get used to our daily routines sometimes. Wake up, exercise, work, eat, watch Netflix, go to bed. It can be a comfortable rhythm.

If you like your work and the people you encounter well enough, life is good. You might not feel a strong urge to switch things up.

Over time, what started as comfortable can suddenly feel like stuck.

If you’re here right now, you're in good company. You're questioning if there’s more out there for you. You feel pulled toward something more, something different. Or you might just want to use your skills and talents in a different way.

If you're lucky, you might feel a calling, a strong inclination to use your talents to make a specific type of impact. What is a calling? Read on to learn more and discover how do you find yours. 

The path to finding your calling is rarely straightforward. Like solving a puzzle, it takes time and energy. It is a process that takes some patience and also courage. 

What is your calling? You may not know yet, but finding the answer will be more than worth it. When you have a sense of purpose in life, you can make decisions that are more aligned with who you truly are. This is true when it comes to your career path, relationships, and day-to-day life. 

That said, the act of living out your calling is even more important than knowing what that calling is. Actualizing your calling is linked to greater life satisfaction.

So as you begin the journey of learning what a calling is, remember that the most valuable thing you can do is take action. Making moves before you know exactly what your calling is will ultimately help you discover your purpose

Living out your purpose can you help you build a more meaningful, authentic life. Let’s learn what a calling is and how you can find yours.


What is a calling?

When you hear “calling,” you might think of something spiritual. A spiritual calling is a vocation or way of life that you believe comes from a higher power.

In the best case, a path to serve others feels so right and aligned with a person's values and abilities that they feel "called" from a higher power. 

What makes a calling special is the strength of this feeling of alignment between your abilities, your values, and what the world needs. It creates an urgency to live or work in a specific way. Something clicks. Your sense of purpose and meaning come into focus, and your world makes more sense.  

Even if you aren’t religious, you could feel a strong urge to live a certain way. Maybe you’ve been very connected to animals since childhood. Not only do you like animals, but you're also very good at handling them. You feel the need to be around them. Your calling likely relates to working with animals.

A calling is more than an interest. It also has to do with skill and tangible day-to-to-day activities — your work.

You could be a veterinarian, work at a shelter with rescues, or open a pet store in your community. The opportunities are vast. 

No matter what it is, a calling fills you with passion and a sense of purpose. It makes you feel like you’re living a meaningful life. If you’re living your calling, the things you do daily will be satisfying and bring you joy.

When you know what your true calling is, you’ll love what you do

Your calling also helps you be your authentic self. You shouldn’t feel like you have to hide who you are or go against your values if you’re pursuing it. 

This doesn’t have to only apply to your career. Having a hobby that you’re passionate about, separate from your job, can greatly improve your mental and physical health. Pursuing your passion outside of work can also help your work-life balance.

Connecting your career to your life purpose can be a good thing, though. Studies show that you will have increased job satisfaction if you find your work meaningful. Not to mention, employees who place a high value on meaningful work tend to be more successful in their careers. 

Even if your career doesn’t fulfill your calling, knowing what you’re meant to do with your life can improve it all around.

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How do I find my calling?

Your calling isn’t something you’re born knowing. Plus, few of us are taught how to find our callings as children. So what is the best way to find your calling? Work to discover it through action and sustained commitment.

With a bit of dedication, you can engage with your surroundings and yourself to find your calling. Take time to figure out what your passions are. Don’t be afraid if it takes longer than you anticipated. Try journaling, meditating, and talking it through with friends.

As you start the process of finding your calling, it’s important to know what a calling really is. Let’s dive into that now.

Career vs. job vs. calling

You might use the words job, career, and calling interchangeably. However, they do have subtly different meanings. Knowing the difference can help you pinpoint what your calling is and how that can impact your work goals


Here are five differences between a career, a job, and a calling:

  1. A job can be completely unrelated to your values and interests, whereas your calling is
  2. You can grow your career, but even if you advance, your career can seem meaningless if not attached to a bigger purpose
  3. A calling makes you feel like all of your hard work connects to your personal values and purpose
  4. A job can be temporary and necessary for one objective, like earning money or gaining experience in your field
  5. Finding a calling requires a significant time investment, whereas finding a job or even advancing your career comes quickly 

Jobs and careers are tricky to navigate. At BetterUp, we can teach you how to plan for your future so that it’s meaningful and satisfying.

Which calling orientation do you have right now?

How you approach your work can help you determine your calling. 

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Yale University, has done studies with her team classifying attitudes towards employment. These studies determine our orientation towards our work and how we can become happier within it. 

Dr. Wrzesniewski and her team categorized the orientations into job, career, and calling orientation. Here’s an overview of each of them so you can see which you relate to most:

Job orientation

People in the job orientation category see their employment as temporary. It’s a step towards helping them achieve something specific. They have this job to pay their bills, use the benefits, and support their families.

It’s important because it helps maintains their financial wellness. However, these individuals likely don’t have any emotional ties or see deep value in their job.

Career orientation

People with a career orientation are motivated to succeed and further develop their careers. They want to move up in their company or industry. This can either be through self-directed learning or by gaining new skills from their existing employment.

With more experience and a wider skill set, they’ll be able to receive a raise. Plus, they’ll be higher on the seniority list and develop an influential reputation. 

Those with a career orientation have careers that allow them to become leaders with agile mindsets. It doesn’t mean that they’re passionate about their career, but it’s safe to assume that they enjoy it.

Calling orientation

Those with a calling orientation don’t hesitate to describe their work as something that aligns with their values. These individuals find their day-to-day activities meaningful. They love their work because they can express their true selves and feel fulfilled while doing it.

Overall, they’re satisfied with their work because they love what they do, and in turn, they’re happier people.


Understanding your orientation

Are you curious to discover which orientation applies to you? Understanding which orientation you fit in with can help you find your calling.

Here are four questions to ask yourself. Take some time to reflect, and then consider which orientation your answers are most similar to. 

  1. What do I find the most meaningful about my work? Do I find it meaningful at all?
  2. At the end of the day, how do I feel about my work? Am I emotionally satisfied or bored?
  3. Would I be working here if I didn’t need the money?
  4. Am I satisfied with where I am now, or do I want to learn new things and experience growth?

5 examples of career callings

If you don't know what a career calling looks like, now is the time to get started. Your career calling will be uniquely yours. Don’t pressure yourself to be like your friends or coworkers. Just be true to yourself and remember that your calling should fill you with a sense of purpose. 

Here are five examples of career callings to consider as you find your calling:

  1. Social work, like working in foster care, marriage counseling, or rehabilitation
  2. Caring for others through healthcare practices like being a nurse, paramedic, or doctor
  3. Taking care of your community by being a firefighter or working in public service of some sort
  4. Taking care of youth or others by being a sexual health educator in schools and clinics
  5. Defending others or helping the world become more equitable by working in the justice system as a lawyer, judge, or paralegal


How to distinguish your hobby from your calling

As you try to find your calling, you might discover that your hobbies give you a true sense of purpose. A hobby or side hustle can turn into your calling, but that’s not always the case. If you’re unsure if your hobby is your passion or what the difference is between the two, check out these tips to help you distinguish them:

  • Determine if you engage with your hobby just to pass the time or if it brings you joy 
  • Think about how your hobby makes you feel while engaging with it: Does it leave you feeling upset and frustrated half the time, or are you happy and fulfilled?
  • Reflect on how or why you started doing your hobby in the first place
  • Think of your hobby as consistent: Can you and do you want to do it all year round, or is it a seasonal activity? Do you become interested in it and then grow tired quickly?
  • Take a moment and think about if your hobby connects to your personal and work values or not


Remember: You’re worth it

It takes a lot of work to pursue your calling. It’s no easy task to find the meaning of life. There will be ups and downs and times when you feel exhausted. Remember, the struggles are worth it.

Now that you know what a calling is, you can start to find yours.

On your journey to find your purpose, make time for self-compassion. Your hard work is hard, no doubt about it. But there’s no reason to let your inner critic flood your brain with negative self-talk. You deserve to care for your well-being

After all the sustained effort, drive, and hustle that you put into finding your true calling, you can reflect on how it’s helped you live with more meaning. In the meantime, don’t forget to be proud of the work you’re currently putting in.

Find someone to hold you accountable as you work through this journey. BetterUp can provide the accountability you need to keep your head held high and work towards finding your true calling.

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Published May 5, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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