Work conceived of as a vocation, sometimes named a “calling,” is a way of seeing your career as a meaningful destiny. The word vocation, like the word vocal, links it to the concept of a voice—a voice that calls to us to turn toward our destiny. If we listen to the call, we gain for ourselves a sense of direction.
But does life speak to us in this way? Consider how most of us have a story about stumbling into a current or former job.
Most people agree that unpredictable events have played an important, sometimes huge, part in their careers. In fact, it is hard to believe that anyone would seriously claim that events they could not have planned had no influence on their career direction.
That this unpredictability is so prevalent, so common, seems to say that there is something natural about the way that life “speaks” to us and gives us hints and prods about which way to go.
Author Thomas Moore proposes in his book A Life at Work:
The question is not so much does the world give us a direction, but are we able to read the world for its information? We tend to look at the surface of events and deal with them practically. An alternative is to see events as symbols, images, and signs.
He explains how the material world can speak to us and we have only to listen and consider what the signs are indicating. We can use the signs to evaluate our work lives. He says:
For example, if you are failing in a particular line of work, your difficulty may not mean that you are lacking or at fault, but that you are in the wrong profession.
“Reading the world” then is the challenge. Could your unpredictable events be a sign for you? It is the imagination that we bring to our work lives that is so important to the quality of our lives and ability to hear the calling.
Love Podcasts? Then love WorkLife with Adam Grant. Adam is an organizational psychologist who studies how to make worklife "not suck." Organizations such as Google and the Gates Foundation hired him to make jobs more meaningful, teams more creative, and work cultures more collaborative. In this episode Adam asks "Are you an introvert ... or an extrovert? You might not know yourself as well as you think." He talks with "Quiet" author Susan Cain and visits a workplace where personality training starts even before job training...