What is your calling in
life? People talk about finding their life's calling and the perfect job. However,
while finding a job you're good at and suited for is important, it is a very
small piece of the puzzle.
So many people are waiting
for the perfect job, when maybe there is no such thing. People don't magically
find meaningful work but they can find meaning in their work. As Viktor Frankl
says in Man's Search for Meaning, " …everything can be taken from us but one
thing: the last of human freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set
of circumstances-to choose one's own way." Meaning and purpose on the job are
internal motivators so the good news is you don't need to quit your job on Monday
to find meaningful work. People now go through an average of ten jobs in a lifetime-is
every one going to be a life's calling? There is nothing wrong with dreaming
of a better future as long as it doesn't foster resentment for your current
work. Work with what you have because success is in the effort.
Success is in the Effort
When I was in university
I worked as a bank teller. The job helped pay the bills but it was not my life
calling. I knew I was meant to do something more important. In short, I didn't
expect much from the job, and I didn't get much. A year later, I hadn't moved
up at all and was still waiting for my life calling. I didn't realize that the
job I had was an important step along the way. If meaningful work came naturally
than it would be a given.
Most people who say their
work lacks purpose or substance complain it is because of the job itself, the
manager or the work environment. All of these factors are external elements
and for the most part out of their immediate control. The solution to the problem
lies in someone else's hands. So the first step in finding meaning in work is
to recognize that meaning comes from within. It is impossible to find true meaning
and purpose from the environment around us. Instead we can foster meaning from
recognizing our strengths and the contribution we make to the company and the
The following are powerful
tools for tapping into the most important resource anyone has-their own wisdom.
1) Don't give yourself the
luxury of being mediocre. Many jobs, if they go unchallenged, are designed for
the mediocre. One of the most important qualities of a successful businessperson
is the belief that their abilities and effort reap results;
2) realize that everything and everyone is important. All aspects of the job
(seemingly big or small) require your complete effort and attention. Try putting
as much effort into the smaller tasks as you would the more important ones;
3) watch your standards. In order to make sure things are done right, we often
set standards. You may find people aim for these standards, when without them
it was possible to reach even higher. You restrict your own potential and others;
4) commit to the process, not just the result. Everyone is willing to be successful,
but not many are willing to make it happen. Success is in the doing, not the
5) broaden your scope past today or next week. What will success look like two,
five or ten years down the road? Be clear on this and keep it top of mind;
6) put every decision to the vision test. If it doesn't relate to you overall
vision, consider dropping it;
7) presumptions cloud vision. A simple presumption blocks communication flow,
which is essential to keeping corporate vision alive.
Work as a Reflection
I often think people who
have found their life calling are saying that their work is a reflection of
themselves. It fits their idea of who they are, their values and how they see
their future. In other words, it lines up with their vision of themselves.
We can all have this kind
of vision. Here are some concrete ways to help make your work more of a reflection
1) the more work and effort
you put in, the more the work becomes you;
2) how committed are you to your job? How can you strengthen that commitment?
3) imagine you had to be controversial in your industry. What kind of position
would you take? What issue would you stand up for? Why?
4) develop a voice in your company, get involved in something you believe in
(ie. start an office recycling program);
5) think about how your work fits your image of yourself and judge your job
from the context of your whole life. For example, you may really wish you could
be a traveling salesperson, but could never spend that much time away from your
family. This balances your picture, otherwise you may focus more on the negative
Put Forth Your Best
If you haven't found the
perfect job or your calling in life, join the crowd. You can add meaning to
your current job by recognizing it's a step along the way. Effort builds up
meaning. Put forth your best and you've already won.