Career Advice

Finding Your Calling in a Career: Your Second Act is Calling… Or Is It?

June 9, 2022

Your Second Act is Calling…Or Is It?    So often we listen to inspiring people talk about finding your calling in a career. We hear them say that they were called to their career, as if it is something that shouted at them until they couldn’t ignore it. But is that how it really works? […]

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The Second Act Success Career Blog features articles to help inspire you as you navigate your career journey. Plus, you'll find show notes from podcast guests who have shared second act success stories. My hope is that these quick reads will offer advice and comfort knowing you are not alone on your path towards second act success. xo - Shannon


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Your Second Act is Calling…Or Is It? 


So often we listen to inspiring people talk about finding your calling in a career. We hear them say that they were called to their career, as if it is something that shouted at them until they couldn’t ignore it. But is that how it really works? Do some people have a calling and others don’t? How can you try finding your calling in a career (and in life)? 

Benefits of Finding Your Calling in a Career

In the study “The experience of career change driven by a sense of calling,” scientists concluded that participants are satisfied with their calling-driven career changes and reported higher levels of well-being at home and at work. 

Having a job that you consider your Calling tends to reap many benefits. 

People pursuing their calling tend to be more proactive and look towards the future. They establish healthy working habits and have lower stress. Often, they are more satisfied with their jobs and that happiness bleeds into the rest of their lives. They are better able to use their strengths to achieve results and improve themselves. 


Types of Jobs

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, an Associate Professor at Yale, has broken down workers into three main orientations: Job, Career and Calling.

A Job Orientation tends to be people that view their job as a means to an end. It is something that the individual does purely to make money to fund their outside interests (family, hobbies, etc.). Jobs receive little loyalty and are generally compartmentalized, and not a driving factor of any life decisions. 

Career Oriented people focus on success, promotions, rising in the ranks and growing personal wealth and status. Jobs with a clear trajectory are most appealing and most likely to be pursued. 

A Calling Orientation tends to be for people who view their career as part of their identity. It is who they are, not what they do. Their job provides a sense of purpose and grounds them in their lives. They are constantly working to enhance themselves in ways that benefit their jobs. Oftentimes they would “do the job for free.”

According to Wrzesniewski, jobs are not exclusively in one category – they depend on the personality of the individual. A job that is just a paycheck to someone can be a calling to another. 


Finding Your Calling in a Career

As people age and begin to get restless in their careers, many of them begin thinking about a career change. For some, simply applying for something different that pays the bills is sufficient. Others choose to turn their side hustle into their career. Still others search for their “calling”, trying to find the career that they are “supposed to have.” 

Too often money and stigma prevent people from following their passions. Think about how many art majors end up working in corporate America. But as the pressures of life build and workers build up their nest egg, working at a job that has personal, deep meaning to you often becomes more and more important. 

So how do you find your calling in a career? 

There is no one way. It could take months. It could take years. You may already know it, but need the confidence to pursue it. You may never find it. Or you could find your calling, only to realize that it can’t sustain you and/or your family. 

How to Find Your Calling

No matter what, follow these tips to help determine if you have a calling and how to find it. 

Follow your instincts.

They are trying to lead you to something that will make you happier. If something peaks your interest, look into it.

Explore your interests.

If you are excited about birds, for example, take a course on it. Find a social media group and talk to like-minded individuals. Ask them if they have any bird related careers. Join a local birding club. 

Think about moments that made you proud.

For example, Hannah Campbell-Andersen built her wedding planner career upon a moment where she helped save her friend’s wedding. 

Look at your skillset.

You may have a lot of hard and soft skills that could lead you to your purpose. Are you a great public speaker? Do you have a personality that people just open up to? Do you find peace in creating baked goods that are works of art? Some of these skills may need further development or refinement, so work on them. Research where and how you could apply them in ways that peak your interest. 

Describe yourself in an essay.

Ignore the physical and talk about what makes you you. Reread what you wrote and pay close attention to what qualities you highlight. Finding a career that allows you to use these every day will be a good start in finding your calling. 

Stop ignoring that itch.

Is there something that you keep thinking about, but have never given it any effort? Or like Gregory Andrus, is there something you keep pursuing, but can’t figure out how to make it work? Keep trying new angles. Andrus wanted to become a preacher, but ended up applying his gifts as a champion for the voiceless on the streets of NJ. 

Take a journey of discovery.

Travel. Volunteer. Meditate. Do something different that makes you think a bit different. We are not suggesting an Eat Pray Love pilgrimage to find yourself, but simply to expand your horizons and try new things. You may discover that you love hiking or making homemade pasta or upcycling flea market finds. 

Give yourself a break.

Not everyone finds their calling. And not everyone’s calling has to do with work. 

Finding your calling is the dream. However, finding a calling as a career is not something that is possible for everyone. Take the time to listen to yourself, follow your heart and then make smart decisions about whether your calling is the right career choice for you.