What is Your Calling? Your Purpose?

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What is Your Calling? Your Purpose?

How do you write your work/career story?

What plot or storyline are you going to write and live that will give you real work that is engaging and a career that is meaningful?

The best starting point is to have a clear calling and a compelling WHY.

Think of calling as a pathway for expressing one’s purpose in ways that make the world better.

Calling is the belief that one has been called upon to do a particular kind of work.  It is a pathway for using one’s gifts, skills and abilities with purpose.  Not just for one’s enjoyment and benefit but also for the benefit of others, for the common good.  

Is it a pathway to build or repair? To work for justice?  To bring more beauty or joy into the world? To help others?  To lead or organize? To provide for the common good? 

For example, a bookkeeper or accountant might have a calling to “help create order in the midst of chaos.” A nurse might have a calling to “provide relief and healing to people who are hurting.” A builder might have a calling to “create quality structures that help people live healthy lives and carry out their business in the world.” 

Don’t be concerned about a job title—a calling usually involves broader themes that transcend any particular job. In fact, there are usually multiple jobs that could enable one to live out their calling.

Next comes purpose.

Now, there’s a lot of overlap between calling and purpose. This is the key difference between the two:  Calling creates a pathway. Purpose creates a destination.  

Purpose is a goal commitment that matters to me and has positive impact on others.

At the core of the goal commitment is what one finds to be ultimately important. It provides the final answer to the question, “Why?”

Now, you may be thinking, “I really don’t know what my purpose is.”  If so, you’re not alone!

Simon Sinek in Find Your Why defines your WHY - your purpose, cause or belief - as the driving force behind everything you do. It’s knowing what motivates and inspires you. It’s understanding what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best.   

What gives you deep satisfaction and meaning in your life and work? What value are you driven to provide? What impact are you driven to make?  

Reflect on your life experience:

  1. What have you always deeply enjoyed doing? A strong compulsion to do those things. You can’t but do these things, or be deeply passionate to address certain concerns.
  2. Talk to people who know you well and would be honest with you. Ask them some deep questions about yourself - your strengths, interests and passions.  “What drives me?”

Clarifying one’s calling and purpose is a process. Don’t expect a deep and instantaneous insight - such as Moses’ burning bush or  St. Paul’s Damascus Road experience.  Rather, expect to experience moments of new awareness and insight. Record these insights into your journal. Reflect on them. Process them with your mentor.

Calling identifies the pathway.  Purpose provides the driving force  - the passionate “fire in your belly” - to strive toward an ultimate goal. With clarity of WHY comes the compelling drive to experience satisfaction and meaning in the work that you do - and to have a deep impact on the world in which you live.

~Phil Nienhuis, LMSW