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Psychology : Applied

Unlocking the Secrets of Transformative Career Change Part 3: Finding Your Calling

A person walking through a grey city landscape with bright colours in the distance.

A sense of professional thriving is best achieved when there is alignment between your personal values, creative mission, and your professional life. While this isn't easy to achieve, creating a flourishing career is possible. Here's how you might better find your calling and activate career transformation in your life.

Vocation, Not Just Vacation

One good indication of whether you are flourishing at work is how you respond to vacations and holidays. Do you count down the days to your next break? Do you experience dread as your holiday is coming to an end? At weekends, do you experience the "Sunday Scaries"?

While there's no avoiding stressful periods and challenges in your professional life - there is a big difference between that and experiencing daily dread in relation to your work. The better aligned your work is to your personal mission, the more it is a vocation, that is, satisfying on its own as a meaningful expression of your time. You'll still enjoy vacations, but you won't need them quite so much to get away from an unsatisfying work-life.

What follows are some key pointers that Nathalie Nahai and I have learned through conversations with folks who have found ways to integrate their vocation and calling into their work through our podcast Time To Show Up. You can check out parts one and two of this series in this very blog. In this, Part Three, we'll be looking at four different kinds of "burn" from which we may be able to tune into our higher calling.

The Hot Burn

The "hot burn" may be the one we are most familiar with. With a hot burn the calling is very clear and loud - so much so that it cannot be ignored and we are often compelled to listen to it. This burn is one we associate with artists and writers, but also entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. It is almost the fairy tale version of vocation - drawing from the original meaning of the word as being a call from God.

For those of us that find it hard to hear a calling, we can feel envious of the hot burn. Yet like most things, the hot burn is a double-edge sword. While a hot burn can strongly direct us towards a calling, it can also prevent us from attending enough to other areas of our lives. We also need to keep an eye on that burn as what we are burning for may change over time. Our interview with Brian Solis is a great example of the power of a hot burn. In this interview we discuss his relationship to a drive that burned so hot that couldn't not be aware of it - so much so that he plowed professional furrow that was uniquely his own. Now he's in a different phase of life, he's exploring how the burn may look forward from here.

You can learn more about Brian's perspective on our interview here on his blog. You can also watch our Review Episode that goes deeper into the themes and practices we picked up from this interview.

The Slow Burn

It might be that readers are more familiar with the slow burn - this one is quieter and may take a long time to express itself. We usually become aware of it little by little - some interests or passions from childhood that disappear for a while before returning. In the case of our interviewee Lisa Marchiano it was a matter of finding a voice that was once there and lost confidence. Through a series of synchronicities Lisa was slowly lead back to her voice that encouraged her to write and publish her first book Motherhood: Finding and facing yourself and her recently published The Vital Spark: Reclaim your outlaw energies and find your feminine fire.

You can also watch our Review Episode that goes deeper into the themes and practices we picked up from this interview.

The Burnout

Sometimes we have to burn out before we can burn ourselves back in. This can happen for a number for reasons. For example, a hot burn that goes on relentlessly is not really sustainable and can drive people to burnout if they are not keeping an eye out to nourishing other important parts of one's life. But burnout can also come when we push ourselves to hard, something that happens a great deal when we are perfectionists, or give ourselves a hard time.

Sometimes it takes a real crisis to wake us up from an unsustainable way of working, which is what happened to author and founder of Bracket, Alison Coward. In this interview you can hear for yourself how Alison was forced to re-evaluate her life and work after being diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune condition. She has fortunately made a full recovery and shares her learning from that experience as well as how she applies that to her work. You might want to check out her new book Workshop Culture. You can also watch our Review Episode that goes deeper into the themes and practices we picked up from this interview.

The Creative Burn

Sometimes the vocational calling speaks to us with a different voice that doesn't offer us quite a straightforward integration into the rest of life. This came out from our interview with Hamed Sinno, composer, musician, and former lead singer of Lebanese pop sensation Mashrou' Leila.

Hamed's creative voice comes from a vulnerable emotional space in which he has learned to process his emotional sensitivity through music, lyrics, and poetry. He eloquently describes how problematic it can be to express of his internal emotional experience into an art form that will be publicly consumed - and what he's learned from those challenges, how he's become more resilient, and what he's learned about identity, emotional distress, recovery, and so much more. You can also watch our Review Episode that goes deeper into the themes and practices we picked up from this interview.

Many Paths, Many Practices

How we learn to incorporate our calling in to our working lives with be an individual puzzle for each of us to work out for ourselves. It's a gory but true expression that there are many ways to skin a cat, and when it comes to applying that to our professional lives, we'll need to incorporate different models and practices that suit our journey. While some of this will be practical things from the world of productivity, others will be more psychological and philosophical - asking oursleves the question of why we're doing it in the first place and for what. Our guest Oliver Burkeman has spent a lifetime exploring this stuff - and in this interview he shares not only his knowledge, but what he's learned about himself in the process.

Thinking About Your Own Transformation

We have conducted these interviews so that listeners can draw their own conclusions from them, and use those conclusions to support them along their journey to a flourishing professional life that is better aligned with their personal vision. While our roads may be different, Nathalie and I have pulled out some general stages to be mindful of while working towards activating your vocation in your working life. These include:

  1. Discovery

  2. Readiness

  3. Resistance

  4. Risk Taking

  5. Accountability

  6. Re-evaluation

We are currently running a Transform Your Career Bootcamp where we're taking our membership through each of these in order to help them along the way to their desired transformation. We've created a mutually supportive community where shared experience and skills can be deployed for all members' benefit. Following the example from an unikely demographic - bees - we hope to have created a community where members can synergise and learn from each other:

Unlocking the Secrets of Transformative Career Change:

For those of you who want to take an extra step and get the guidance and support to make the changes you want to make in your professional life, we are running a Transform Your Career Bootcamp as part of membership of our online community. You can try it out for two weeks free. If you use the code AARONSBLOG at registration we’ll throw your first month in for free too.

We know that unlocking the secrets of transformative career change can be a risky endeavour, so we made this first step risk free. So why not give it a go?





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