by Allison Aboud Holzer

I feel very fortunate that I consider my work to be a calling. Although I play many different roles in my professional life (professional development coach, emotional literacy coach, workaholic_cartooncoaching program coordinator, coaching researcher, blog writer, and even children’s book author) my calling is quite clear. My passion is “personal and professional growth” and my calling is the advancement of this growth in (myself and) others through my many different professional roles. It’s not always been this simple for me, and it’s not always this simple for others.

Continuing on the career theme of Bliss Tips #10 and #11, creating a fulfilling professional identity requires vim, verve and grit. I view “job crafting” and prioritizing passion as key steps to identifying and maintaining a professional calling. I believe everyone has a calling, although it may not fall within the boundaries of a typical 9-to-5 job. Parenting, being a student, volunteering, creative pursuits – these are all forms of work that can be callings as well.

According to Wrzesniewski “satisfaction with life and with work may be more dependent on how an employee sees his or her work than on income or occupational prestige.” Her seminal research study on “Jobs, Careers, Callings” suggests that most people see their work in one of the following three ways:

1. Job – emphasis on financial rewards, necessity, or getting a pay check

2. Career – focus on advancement, achievement, and progress up the career ladder

3. Calling – prioritizing enjoyment, personal meaning, and doing work that is perceived as socially useful and benefiting others

Generally, people with all three orientations exist in every type of industry, including both blue and white collar jobs. While Wrzesniewski does not claim the “calling” orientation to be the ideal for everyone, she has found that these employees tend to experience greater work satisfaction and engage in proactive “job crafting” activities, often leading to more rapid advancement than their “job” and “career” oriented colleagues.

There is one potential caution area to having a calling. When you gain great fulfillment from your work, you may become what I call a “workaphilic.” Not to be confused with a “workaholic” who compulsively works without necessarily enjoying it, “workaphilics” may work a great deal because they love it so much!

So, pursue your calling with caution, being mindful of the delicate balance between work, family, leisure time and other areas of your life that you value. Pursue work that allows you to become a BALANCED “workaphilic”!

Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P. & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work. Journal of Research in Personality, 31 (1), 21 – 33.