Recently, I have found myself involved in a lot of conversations that have centered on the pursuit of vocational passions. I am finding that more and more of the people in my circle are currently working in positions that are sufficient for paying the bills, but are not satisfying their desires for a fuller life. In some cases, a friend goes into a specific field thinking that they will love it and, as they grow older and explore more of the world, discover that the field they are in no longer suits their interests. Others joined specific fields at the pressure of parents or family members – or for the pursuit of money – and are now finding themselves unfulfilled. And still, there are those who have no idea what it is that they are truly passionate about! They float through life hoping to find something to ignite that latent spark inside – but so far – to no avail.
From these conversations, I am sensing that there is sort of a shift in our culture. It used to be that a person went to college and got a good job in order to pay the bills and perhaps to boost their social status. The ‘American Dream’ seemed to be one in which a person landed that perfect position that would allow them to afford all of life’s little comforts and material joys – while assuring a decent retirement. And, while comfort and the ability to afford nice things are still highly valued in our society, it seems that people are more interested in really living life. We want our time back. We want to travel, to engage, and to connect with others in ways that were either impossible or un-thought of in times past. And if we have to devote our lives to a profession, we want it to be something that we love. We want it to be something we feel called to. We want it to have meaning beyond being a means to a financial end.
As I listened to an engaged in all of this vocational chat, it became clear to me that the biggest question on everyone’s mind was how does one transition to such a calling?
What Do You Like?
I am not a career counselor or psychologist, but there seem to be some common sense factors involved in deciding on a profession or lifestyle to which one feels called. The first indicator of one’s calling lies in their interests and motivations. Do you find yourself heavily interested in all things technology? Are you always swooning over strangers’ pets or crying during ASPCA commercials? Do you daydream about living off the grid? Whatever you spend your free time thinking and learning about are hints that can guide you in the right direction.
What Are Your Talents?
The next step would be to decide on what you are good at. Just because a person loves animals, for example, doesn’t mean that person is a good enough scientist to become a veterinarian. Finding an angle from which you can work closely with your passions and effectively with your talents can sometimes be tough – and may require some “outside-the-box” thought.
What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?
Being intensely interested in something doesn’t always equate to expertise. There will be times where you will need to learn more about the topics related to your passion – and that learning may not always be interesting! A person wanting to own a hair salon might not always be interested in learning about the zoning laws or building permits needed for their establishment. Furthermore, gaining additional knowledge usually costs additional funds – and it can be a huge sacrifice of time to be working and studying simultaneously (I am the queen of that)! Make sure that your career change is worth the extra change you’ll be spending to get where you want to be!
What Is Your Plan?
Once you have decided what you’d like to do, from what angle you’d like to do it, and that doing it is worth the time and financial investment – it’s time to come up with a plan. And while it’s true that our plans never work out as intended, they’re still good to have! A solid plan needs to have include small, time-sensitive, attainable goals that will help put you in the direction you’d like to go. Instead of saying, “I will open a homeless shelter,” you may need to break down opening a homeless shelter into time-sensitive steps that include how much money you’ll need to save (and where that money will come from), what kind of paperwork you’ll be responsible for filling out (and what the deadlines are), or learning what laws affect you in the state you plan to work. When planning, keep in mind that many of our deepest aspirations take a lot of time and energy before they come to fruition. Don’t give up on yourself when things get challenging, because they will!
It is so important to remember that the decisions one makes – or doesn’t make – in the present time are what sets that person up for what type of future he or she will have. The most common thing I have found in these recent chats is that my friends, when they were younger, thought that their lives would just flow naturally into whatever they wanted their lives to be – and so they failed to plan. That type of thinking happens to us all. The good news is that it is never too late to begin making changes and investing in building the type of lifestyle that suits your calling. When we live out what we are purposed to do – the world is a better place for it!