By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.” ~ Sam Keen
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl
“It is not more vacation we need – it is more vocation.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
The search for your calling or vocation is different from identifying an occupation. While occupation has more to do with earning money, paying the rent or satisfying one’s ego or pride, vocation or calling are tied to one’s sense of meaning and life-purpose. As people age and mature, the search for meaningful life and fulfilling one’s calling become more important.
The search for one’s calling or vocation invites people to look at four areas of their lives: Their gifts, talents and ability, what gives them joy, pleasure and satisfaction, in what areas they are disciplined, and finally, their assessment of what the world needs more of and less of.
Following are three sections that will, hopefully, guide you in your search for meaning.
- Set A will help you explore the uniqueness of your gifts, skills or talents.
- Set B will take the quest for your calling to the next level by identifying what constitutes a vocation: gifts, joy, discipline, and needs. (Questions #1 and 4 in Set A are similar to questions #1 and 2 in Set B).
- Set C will help you evaluate your current situation and brainstorm about what changes you can institute with relative ease in order to work in a more satisfying way.
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. While it is good to be realistic in your assessment of yourself, this is still a completely subjective questionnaire geared to clarify your perceptions and thinking.
Evaluate the quality and range of your gifts, talents and abilities. These can be inborn, innate gifts or abilities acquired and learned during one’s life.
Level 1; Identify areas (skills/talents/gifts) at which you excel, are better than most people or are much above average:
Level 2: Identify areas (skills/talents/gifts) which you are good at. While you are somewhat above average, still many other people are as good as you in these areas:
Level 3: Identify areas in which you are average or below and many people are more talented or more effective than you:
Level 4: Identify areas in which you are pretty lousy and much below average:
This set explores the most pertinent questions in regard to calling.
1a: What are you very good at? Identify your gifts, talents and abilities at which you excel. These may be inborn gifts or abilities acquired during your life. (This is a similar question to set A question #1)
1b: What are you not at all good at? Identify that at which you do not excel and in general are not your gifts. (This is a similar question to Set A question #4)
2a: What kinds of tasks or activities give you joy, delight, or pleasure? What do you like to do a lot? It is related to the question of what you would do if you had all the money, time, health, and love you need.
2b: What kinds of tasks or activities deplete or bore you? What do you hate to do?
3a: In which areas are you very disciplined? With what type of activities are you consistent and methodical and do not procrastinate or regularly avoid?
3b: What activities do you regularly avoid, delay or procrastinate doing? In what areas are you not disciplined?
4a: What, in your opinion, does the world, the region, the state, or your community need? What types of contributions are needed by the world, the environment, people, children or animals in these times?
4b: What, in your opinion, does the world need less of these days?
Take some time to figure out how you can make changes so that you spend more time and energy at the higher levels and as little as possible at the lower ones. While spending some time even at level #4 is inevitable in most situations, spending most of your life at level #4 can breed in one deep dissatisfaction, bitterness and a sense of a wasted life. The changes may take the form of transforming how you work or the way you spend your free time, or they may require you to reshuffle your priorities or allocate time differently for different aspects of your life. Some changes may even require quitting or changing your job or relocating.
Evaluate the percentage of time that you spend at each level (Section A) in your life at the present time:
Level from Section A: 1 2 3 4