I stumbled upon a very interesting blog post, originally dated in July of 2010, titled The Vocation Myth. Here’s an excerpt:
“Lots of people get sucked into the current new age wisdom that we all have one unique thing we’re called to do in life. They spend years, not to mention thousands of pounds, on the next book, coach or workshop that offers the key to the holy grail. Meantime they feel pretty miserable doing whatever it is they’re doing – or not – right now. And beat themselves up for being a lesser person because, unlike the zealous peddlers of the vocation myth, they haven’t found what work it is they’re really supposed to be doing. In working with clients having this experience, I encourage them to take all that forward-looking pressure off themselves and live in the present. But for others it’s a discovery process of finding one jigsaw puzzle piece of ourselves after another in the different things we do. Without valuing the purpose of the bit we’re doing right now, we’ll never get to understand the full picture.”
I love it when this subject is broached, as many ARE in search of vocation – work that calls them, work that is truly satisfying and meaningful, or at least work they believe best suits their strengths, talents and interests.
So many are unhappy with their work lives. Work satisfaction surveys funded by a variety of sources highlight this fact, especially over the last couple of decades where engagement and happiness at work have reportedly taken a hit.
Many spend years into decades tolerating mediocrity in their work lives.
The hope of being excited, challenged, happy at work is a distant, unobtainable dream.
You’re probably familiar with the idea of being “called to do something” in life. Although this concept seems to traditionally have religious roots, it has become part of our secular lexicon.
I winced when I read the phrase “sucked into,” as it implies that vocation is a hoax and that many have been manipulated into believing this untruth only to have their hopes heightened and their bank accounts reduced in their quest to discover this mysterious calling.
Although I winced a bit while reading this paragraph, I believe the author makes some valid points that I’d like to address as I argue against “The Vocation Myth.”
Here’s my BIG question to you dear student:
Why would finding your just right work, work that calls you be reserved for a select few?
As I proceed, my intention is to encourage you to continue your explorative process.
- “They spend years, not to mention thousands of pounds, on the next book, coach or workshop that offers the key to the holy grail.”
Rebuttal: True, some people spend years and lots of money searching. I must admit that I spent some time searching, too, but I didn’t invest a lot of money (I wish I had made a monetary investment, it may have shaved off some of the time spent). The actual process really doesn’t require years of searching and agonizing. My question is: Does your search begin with introspection or are you searching outside of yourself for the answer? And, if you seek assistance, are you taking full responsibility for your explorative process or are you expecting that book, coach or workshop to provide a magic pill?
- “And beat themselves up for being a lesser person because, unlike the zealous peddlers of the vocation myth, they haven’t found what work it is they’re really supposed to be doing.”
Half no rebuttal/half rebuttal: True, there are a lot of people beating themselves up, wondering ‘What’s wrong with me, why can’t I find what I’m called to do’? There’s nothing wrong with you. Again, why would only some of us get to enjoy living a life aware of what we are called to do, while others don’t? That flies in the face of reason. Realize that this is a discovery process. There are many factors to consider and it differs from person to person. As mentioned above, this is an inside out process, one that requires vulnerability, courage, patience and commitment. Timing is also important.
- “In working with clients having this experience, I encourage them to take all that forward-looking pressure off themselves and live in the present.”
No rebuttal here: I totally agree! Take the pressure off of yourself and live in the present. But, I’d like to add, looking forward is important as well, in fact, our thoughts and beliefs today are the building blocks of our tomorrow. Learning to live in the present and work towards our desired future is part of who we are. As humans, we’re always growing and evolving, the key is to stop letting it all happen to you and learn to move through it intentionally.
- “But for others it’s a discovery process of finding one jigsaw puzzle piece of ourselves after another in the different things we do. Without valuing the purpose of the bit we’re doing right now, we’ll never get to understand the full picture.”
No rebuttal here: Again, I totally agree! It is a discovery process, one that involves finding one jigsaw puzzle piece of ourselves after another in the different things we do. I would like to reiterate that this explorative process demands introspection – looking within versus looking outside of ourselves, being curious, and being open to possibility as we uncover our vision and identify patterns and belief systems – the stories that drive our decisions – that may be sabotaging our progress.
I agree with most of the points made, which is why I’m not certain why the original author concluded that vocation is a myth. The message seems more about easing up on all the pressure associated with finding that one unique thing. It’s a process that takes time.
My experience is that we have more than one thing that calls us.
The point is: vocation is not a myth, it’s real and it’s a process.
You know what? If I had known, when I was in my twenties into my early thirties, that someone could have helped me expedite this process when I was in the throes of my search, I believe I would have made the investment. Who knows, we can certainly be a bit stubborn and a little know-it-all-ish at this age, but I’d like to think that I would have jumped on the opportunity to make it all a little easier.
As humans, we’re ever evolving.
There is help to learn how to listen to your own inner knowing, that faint or not so faint call that will lead you to work that allows you to contribute in a meaningful and fulfilling way. It may be for compensation, it may not be, but engaging in it will make all the difference.
My own lengthy experience of discovering what calls me fuels my deep desire to help students like you.
How committed are you to listening for and responding to the calls of your inner knowing? How can we help?
Robbi Crawford, The Student’s Mentor, Author and Speaker is the founder of BrijBrand. Subscribe below and join the BrijBrand community. We’ll keep you in the loop about what we’re building for YOU, and create a safe place to land when you’re feeling stuck, need a plan, and want some targeted help and genuine support!