How to Find your Calling in Work I Oxford Open Learning

How to Find your Calling in Work

Millions of people spend years hunting for deeply meaningful work, trying to find their vocational calling. Some give up the search and stay in a dull but familiar job. They argue that the perks and the financial benefits make up for the time they spend clock-watching and desperately looking forward to the weekend. In their heart of hearts,  though, the yearning for a more creative and fun vocation is ever present.

Working History

Let us take a look at the history of the last few hundred years. Before industrialisation began, people frequently followed in the footsteps of their close family. Whether they came from a family of farmers, craftsmen or tradesmen, there was an expectation that you would work as an apprentice in your younger years before taking over the family’s vocation.If you came from a musical family, it was natural for you to be exposed to music from a very young age and to become a musician yourself. The famous Bach family (or rather the Bach dynasty as it is often referred to) produced a number of talented musicians, most notably including Johanne Sebastian Bach.

Living in the modern age means that we have more choice and we can take a diverse range of career paths. Choice is helpful. It gives us more freedom than people could have envisaged in previous centuries. However, more choice also means that we spend more time analysing our options. Many of us end up in a state of ‘analysis paralysis’ (overthinking and overanalysing).

Many of us find the search for the perfect job a frustrating one. We also assume that if we do find that perfect occupation, all will be well and we will live happily ever after. Five year career goals can be impossible for many to create because of the fast pace of change in the professional landscape. Instead of chasing that grand calling, vision or perfect career, why not take a more light-hearted approach? Instead, ask yourself the questions below:

  • What work would be exciting to do in the next one or two years?

  • What would be a fun project to work on?

  • Note down your answers and search for work which you would enjoy

You might be surprised to hear that career preferences can be described by the ‘honeybee’ and the ‘mole’ attitudes. Both approaches are equally valuable and they may suit different personality types.

Moles and Honeybees

Honeybees crave variety and they love being engaged in a range of diverse projects. Flexibility, creativity and continuous learning energises them. Honeybees make excellent freelancers as they can develop a diverse and colourful palette of work often working in different sectors (e.g. part-time, contractual and seasonal jobs).

Moles like to stick to one career path and dig deeper. They like to choose their subject area carefully and develop a well of knowledge, skills and expertise in the field. Moles like to build a specialism and may resist career change. For them, creativity and variety is less important. If moles choose their specialism carefully, they can foster deep expertise in their subject area and a lifelong passion for their work.

Would you describe your current preference as a honeybee or a mole? Whatever your answer, do not be tempted to consider your career approach permanent. Many people change their preferences as they transition through different stages of life.

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Henrietta Nagy is a seasoned portfolio worker with over 10 years’ experience in the UK education sector. Henrietta writes educational content, designs academic courses, delivers university lecturers, mentors entrepreneurs, and provides career development coaching. With 9 years of higher education studies internationally (including an MBA), she has worked with CEOs, academics, scholars, managers, women entrepreneurs, academic administrators, and other consultants.

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