Missed your calling?

How many times have you heard “You missed your calling!” from a friend or co-worker?  It usually comes right after they see you do something extraordinary that has nothing to do with your day job… like when you exhibit some long dormant talent that rarely gets dusted off and used in public. 

I think it is meant as a compliment, but the implication is that your current job is NOT your calling and that you may be wasting your time and talent.

This phrase has religious origins… the concept that you get “called” by God to perform one big special mission in your life like writing a book, starting your own company or helping the needy. At some point in your life you hear this call and you’re supposed to answer by pursuing it.  This word “calling” has now become part of our broader vocabulary, and you most often hear it when someone thinks you’re missing it.

Here’s the thing… I’m not sure we get just one great call in our lives.  I have felt compelled to do many things outside my day job or comfort zone. I have answered a few calls and let a few others go to voicemail. I have had people acknowledge me for moments of creativity that brought me no financial gain, and moments where I’ve sacrificed to help others without telling a soul about it.

The point is… just because your creative flourish or altruistic effort is not your full-time job doesn’t mean it’s any less significant.  Why not answer a part-time calling in the midst of a full-time career?  Perhaps your talents are meant to bring joy and impact others exactly where you are right now.

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19 Comments on “Missed your calling?”


  1. Thank you for posting this. Particularly because I’ve heard this ‘you’ve missed your calling’ phrase more times thank I can count. What’s interesting is that our parents era used to believe like Colonel Sanders — just do chicken right, thus just one thing right and do it well.

    Well, times have changed. And no longer is there the time where you only do one thing – not just for work, but even for enjoyment. In our world of ‘multi-tasking’ is it even possible to miss a calling? Aren’t we all doing 10 different things and trying to keep all the plates spinning? And if we are managing this, aren’t we doing a few things well?

    I love how you pointed out what you did about creative talents. I believe everyone has a creative talent that they don’t choose to do for a living, simply because then the pressure to make money at it actually takes away the real pleasure of doing it for the right reasons…. for pleasure. So thank you for sharing this, David. Amen to many callings…… oh, you’re phone’s ringing…..!!

    • davidgoad Says:

      Thanks Stacey! I have heard this from many “amateur artists” – that the pressure to make a living at it can spoil the enjoyment. However, this does not excuse us from trying to find our passion in our full-time, bill-paying job. Because just working for the money is not very enjoyable either.

  2. Khoder Baydoun Says:

    The key thing is try to stay healthy, mentally and physically, so we can do the things that we want to do then and now and more specifically after we retire. Any minute and any day is our calling when we put our minds to it and have interests to drive our plan to acheive the goals that we covet. Those who are employed have an advantage over those who are not because they are at liberty to pick and choose which goal to accomplish first.

    I like your bloggs. I feel they are all intertwined and connected. This blog is connected to the previous blog about coping with unemployment and the one before it. Your blogs have become essential to my life. I appreciate your thoughts and what you bring forth. You will reap the fruit of your efforts and calling in big ways. Everything that you do, whether for money or not, will help you become a better person, mentally and physically, preparing you and getting you ready to answer that call in the right place and time. We cannot prepare for an opportunity overnight. It takes years of hard work and persistence.

    Khoder


  3. You know, David – this is true. But don’t you think this has more to do with the idea of being a hamster on a wheel?

    Years ago, one of my friends was talking about happiness in the day-to-day cycle. And it has more to do with the alignment of who you are and what your core values and principles are and how you examine the daily grind of work, isn’t it? For example, one of my friends loves numbers. So she became an accountant. But then it became stale, because she was ‘told’ what to do with numbers, she couldn’t exactly be in control of the numbers. So then she tried sales. But then this didn’t work for her either, because she didn’t like the manipulative spiel of what she had to say to do sales. It seemed tricky and unethical. Then I told her ‘you’re looking for core values within a job – your core values are WITHIN YOU….. no job is perfect, and neither are any of us. But you can’t put your total self-worth into your job, just the JOB YOU DO…….and the quality of the job you do……the job is not ultimately you, just your performance.’ This shifted her perspective about expecting passion within a job that couldn’t technically exist because she was expecting the company she worked for to have the same values as her. But it couldn’t. It’s just a company…. made up of a collective of individuals who may not necessarily see eye-to-eye in how things should be approached or done.

    One of my other friends said “To make money for the sake of making money is pointless, because at the end of the day, how many chandeliers does one actually need? In the end when you die, it’s not about stuff… you have to feel your value.”

    Okay, that is true. But if you know your value and you know your worth and you know your passion, performance, work ethic, and who you are as a person and that you arrive with integrity — at that point, isn’t that enough to be happy? Why must a ‘job’ define this?
    I ask generally speaking why human beings expect this to provide all.

    But then I guess when you spend more than 3/4 of your life working, and you invest your blood, sweat, tears and soul into what you do, you’d expect in the end to be happy. But shouldn’t the end result of being satisfied with how one shows up in life be the happiness central hub for self-satisfaction, gratification and well-being?

    I think about this, often with a disturbed session of ping-pall in my head as this ‘idea’ is swatted around between two universes. It is something that plagues those who suffer with the itch on both sides of the left and right brain wanting to equally be scratched.

    It’s intriguing to think that even those who have put their right foot in and taken it out and shaken it all about to figure out what the heck the hokey pokey is all about are plagued with the idea that what we process as human beings as meaningful, has different meanings.

    I go with the concept that a job does not define anyone.
    The job they do is about character and that’s what does.
    I go with the concept that one’s passion must come from
    one’s soul… and if the soul is applied to anything we do,
    and we do it with gusto and soul… we can feel good about ourselves even if we are in jobs we aren’t happy in.

    It’s about perspective.
    It’s about living life to the fullest.
    And realizing work is work.
    Play is play.
    And being creative is pure freedom of expression.

    The rest is simply tasty gravy over garlic mashed potatoes.

    🙂


  4. David,

    That’s kind of what my “job” is and has been since roughly 2000. I’m just lucky that I was blessed enough to have my volunteering turn into a job and was supported by my husband in it. Heaven knows I could be making a much bigger contribution to our college expenses right now, but Craig’s completely supportive of my efforts and he and the kids pitch in to help as well. God put my former boss (deceased now) right in my way and gave my whole family a true gift with his inspiration and friendship. Now I have his legacy to continue and while it may not pay much in cold, hard cash, it gives us all so much more in fulfillment and satisfaction. And that’s not a bad thing at all…


  5. David,

    From one who worked as a technical writer for 20 years and is now looking for my real “calling,” I am finding that there are several areas I could apply my talents. This makes it nice and confusing at the same time.

    I think many humans need to feel they are here for a purpose, whether or not they believe in God’s will.So, just choosing one thing can make it difficult as it might be the wrong “calling.”

    For this reason, I enjoyed your article about allowing oneself to maintain a course while helping in some way outside their current work. Reentering a whole new field is very difficult. I am learning that lesson after a redirect of raising two fantastic kids. It was nice we were able to do it; however, now finding a new “calling” is tough.

    Thanks for taking the time to boost our feelings.

    MJoyMeyer

    • MJoyMeyer Says:

      David,
      Just want to let you know that I have found a “calling.” It might not be my permanent one, and yet, for now, I am enjoying tutoring students in English – written and spoken. My students range from a third grader struggling with writing stories to adults writing and speaking properly for their work. It is enjoyable, I feel good in helping people, and keeps me thinking, especially when it comes to the irregularity of the English language.
      Thanks again for a great article.
      MJoyMeyer

    • davidgoad Says:

      That’s fantastic! Serving others does not have to be grandiose. I have found that real change happens more often in 1:1 interactions.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Roland Says:

    There are always more callings.
    They are logical,and also intuitive, but not necessarily both at once.
    Sometimes the callings won’t make sense until the time is right.
    It’s all about discovering self,not making us into something.
    What we do is not the sum and total of what we are.
    If our spirits are open, we will find inspiration.
    We must do everything we can, with what we’ve got, from where we are.
    Just be happy! It will lead to greater enlightenment!

    Roland.

  7. Bec O'D Says:

    great explanation of this saying thanks!

  8. Roland Takaoka Says:

    Dude, do you know two Roland’s? or did I post that comment above in my sleep? LOL!

    I was wondering why I agreed so much with the bullets! LOL!

    You recieved some interesting feedback on this one. here is what I will add to my previous bullets…

    What other people think regarding to “our calling” is somewhat immaterial. “Thanks for the compliment…” It’s about what the calling of our heart indicates that matters. Being good at something is great. It’s not necessarily where we will make the greatest positive impact on family, friends, associates, community, and humanity.

    A calling is not an end all, it is a temporary shift in focus and direction. Some directions take us further along, and some, shorter distances. There is no rule to this, other than follow, and lead. If you do neither, you’re just in the way, and not being a part of our Universal expansion.

    I would also add to Mr. Baydoun’s comment, that it starts with spiritually healthy, to mentally healthy, to physically healthy… that is how I perceive the order of experience in life. It starts with the deepest of intention as we start our life, and expands with what we feed it, and create from it, including our mental and physical selves and our experiences. This is life’s path of self-discovery, and self-realization… and eventually, self-actualization – the action of who you are, not the monument in one’s mind.

    I see any calling as a re-steering of the vessel in life, not a road to a single destination.

    Great concept that has helped me in my endeavors, especially today.

    Thanks, Dave.
    Roland.

  9. tasha Says:

    I just heard this phrase today “you missed your calling” and I usually dont let these things bother me but it was said to me by a bishop at a church i just so happened to of picked today to stop at.
    So all day I wondered when he said I missed my calling I should have done missionary work. When he said that i asked him I do a random good deed for stranger’s everyday and just ask them to pay it forward is this recognized as clicking the call and sending itt o voice mail in god’s eye’s or does it actually amount to something at the point where I awnser. What if the calling we are missing is something we just missed due to up bringing ect?

    • Roland Says:

      A silly phrase. You can’t miss your calling. You are called when your spirit (YOUR SPIRIT, not an observer’s…) feels the call, and not when someone else, ordained or otherwise, says so. They can have their opinions, but don’t let that cause you to feel like “less than,” or missing something in life, or like your failing to do your duty, or some such nonsense. Your only real duty is to listen to your heart.

      We can break ourselves free from hereditary patterns, cultural codes, and social beliefs, and decide for ourselves who we become. All that matters is how you are attending to your values, not anyone else’s. Once in tune with your values, the right action will naturally occur to you – never too late, and right on time. “Everything happens when the time is right!”

      Your calling will present itself to you, and no other. :o)

      Roland

  10. MJoyMeyer Says:

    I love these comments. The concept of just going by your heart is great. When I asked someone the other day how she knew what her passion was in order to find the “right” job, she said that whatever she is feeling at the moment that she must do something about is what directs her to her work. There was not, “Maybe I should be or do this.”
    I must add, though, that there is the reality factor: Is there a need for money? For if you truly go by your heart and no one is offering pay…, well, then, it can be hard. I guess you can get creative, however, the latter is hard if you have a family to support and no income to put into a creative venture.
    Thoughts?

    • davidgoad Says:

      Thanks for your comments Joy. You are correct that it is sometimes hard to make money at what you love. But hard does not = impossible, and there are so many ways to make money. The main point is that your joy will drive great work, and great work usually finds an audience willing to pay.

    • MJoyMeyer Says:

      David, Thank you; very nice words. I wonder if there is a difference between “need” and “joy.” When I decided to return to work after 12 years break from technical writing (good money, but not a joy), I did not want to return to tech writing. I consulted a life coach and said out loud that I want to do something in which I help people. I looked at what skill I had to combine with this need, and a business unfolded. I was amazed at how successful it became and allowed me time for my family. I do enjoy helping a student learn to make their writing clearer and more interesting to read. However, something is still missing. My problem is that I get twisted in what is my one joy as I enjoy speaking, landscaping, acting, helping a community improve, recycling and environmental efforts, and fighting for causes politically. And, where do these fit with my need to save the world – help starving children, get rid of trafficking and homelessness, and so on. Yikes! How does one choose between the joys and differentiate between need and joy!? Some people seem to decide by passion, others by money, and others by what pops into their lives. You say find the joy; what if there are many joys? Sorry – should I be paying you for counseling online? <:

    • davidgoad Says:

      Well, I am not a professional counselor or doctor, so take anything I offer accordingly 🙂 I benefitted from tackling things one at a time, setting no more than 3 big goals per year. That kept me from getting overwhelmed and started the action in the right direction. Pick one and go with it, Joy!

    • MJoyMeyer Says:

      David – Thank you. Marlene

  11. Darla Says:

    After getting my new camera and photographed a nice couple, the man told me that I’d “missed my calling” ….as a photographer. I responded, “I didn’t miss my calling, I AM a photographer.” It was taken as an insult inside my heart, thinking he meant that I was too old to be dabbling, or that I should have started earlier. I do many things well when they are placed in front of me. When people say that I missed something, they are grading me in some way. It is hardly meant as an upgrade, more of a downgrade. I suppose I am too sensitive.


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