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    Pivot to Purpose: Moving from a Career to a Calling

    What were you doing as a teenager that really excited you and that you continue to do today?

    Concept of a man follows the right way

    i-Stock, natthapon

    A speaker asked this question years ago while talking to a group about understanding their strengths and passions in life. Several years later, when I was at a pivot point in my career, trying to decide whether to take the “safe” route, which required less faith, or the “risky” route, which required a lot of faith, it helped me make my decision. I recognized four key things I did during my teens that I was passionate about and how I continued these themes later in life.

    Writing – When I was about 14, I decided on my own to read 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Bible and write down, chapter by chapter, what it meant to me. I was analyzing and trying to understand it and relate it to current life. Thirty years later, I continued that theme by writing a book of insights reflecting a faith- based approach to leadership. And I’ve followed that by writing a monthly commentary for individuals, teams and organizations focused on development of successful leadership skills. For me, the creativity of writing is intellectually stimulating and has become a passion and a priority in life.

    Speaking – When I was a senior in high school, my aunt encouraged me to enter the Michigan Junior Miss Pageant. I had to decide what to do for the “talent” portion of the competition. Traditionally, contestants sing, dance or play an instrument. I knew that I didn’t sing or dance well enough. Though I had taken piano lessons for years, I wasn’t really good at it. So, I decided to do a dramatic reading. One of my high school teachers coached me, and I received a standing ovation! I realize that I get an emotional rush when I’m on a platform before a group with a powerful message to deliver. I focus on connecting with them and am excited to positively impact their lives.

    Processes and organization – All through high school, after classes, I worked in the office of a company doing clerical work. I became very knowledgeable of all the processes and assumed a lot of responsibility within the team. In college I became the business manager of a singing group, handling bookings, travel arrangements and all administrative duties. Again, I enjoyed organizing things and thinking through the processes, and I calmly handled the pressure and demands of the various roles. During this time, I gained an appreciation for well thought out approaches to business, a skillset that I continue to rely upon.

    Consulting and coaching – In college, I initially wanted to be a therapist, until I realized that I wasn’t gifted in dealing with more acute personal issues.  Then, I instead recognized the consulting and coaching opportunities embedded in Human Resources/ Organizational Development functions. I was able to support leaders and teams of all sizes in their growth and development and leverage my process focus. I also gained valuable organizational observations that became the foundation for my passion around leadership.

    Career vs. Calling
    Once I recognized these areas of passion, I knew I had to take the “risky” route, the leap of faith. My 30-year career became a valuable stepping stone where I developed these skills in a particular context. Now it was time to pivot and make it the primary focus of my work. I was moving into my calling.

    You may be wondering whether you are working in your career or your calling. Well, simply put, if you’re working for recognition and compensation, you have a career. If you’re working for something bigger than yourself, and accomplishing more than you imagined, you have a calling. A calling is work that you “can’t not” perform. It’s work that comes with great passion and excitement, where you don’t count the hours, and are not primarily driven by your income.

    Finding You
    So how do you find your calling? Begin by answering these questions.

    1. Identify the themes from your teen years. What problems did you naturally solve? What did you spend time doing that no one had to make you do?
    2. Identify the things you do that add value and generate compliments from others. These are typically your strengths. What is it about how you do it that generates positive feedback? In the roles you’re in today, how do your strengths compliment your responsibilities?
    3. Write down your biggest dream; even if you can’t figure out how to get from here to there yet.
    4. Describe the most challenging life experiences you’ve overcome, and identify how they’ve shaped you.
    5. Write down the things you do because you’re passionate about them. These are activities where your creativity blossoms and time passes quickly. You smile when you think about these topics and can excitedly talk to others about them at length. You may fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning thinking about these things. Others might think of it as work, but for you its energizing and enjoyable.

    Now What?
    It may take you weeks or even months to think through and write down your responses to these questions. Sometimes it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion as you go through the process of discovery. The only wrong answer is when you’re thinking about what others expect you to say and do and not being truthful to yourself. When you’ve reached the point of breakthrough, you’ll know it because you’ll have an “aha” moment. Then it’s a matter of making sure that decisions about your work align with your understanding of your purpose. It’s a step by step process, and often the closer you get, you recognize there’s more opportunity for greater impact. Working in your calling brings you to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, where you’re achieving your full potential.

    So, if you’re not already there, take the journey to “finding you” and pivot to purpose.

    Copyright 2017 Priscilla Archangel

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