For the maths minded like me. There is nothing like a good Venn Diagram to help understanding.
A Venn is used to describe how concepts intersect, described below via the wonderful medium of pancakes!
In “Born for this: How to find the work you were meant to do”, Chris Guillebeau advises searching for three things: Something that gives you joy, something that pays the bills and something you are really good at.
Looking at things from an alternative perspective, I always remember this quote from Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, about seeking balance if not a calling:
“Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.”
Then there is the popular internet meme of life purpose by Andrés Zuzunaga. This is often wrongly referred to as “Ikagai” after the Japanese term that tries to capture the spirit of a sense of purpose or reason for living.
Personally, I think it’s simpler than that.
Three elements of a true calling:
- PASSION: Let’s assume that a calling is a profession or something you do that gives you a sense of purpose. Then I don’t think it’s about what you are good at. It’s more about what you’re passionate about. You can learn skills, but you can’t fake passion. Doing something “you are good at” sound like careers advisor talk from pre-internet times.
- PAYS: Secondly, a calling should be able to wipe it’s own nose. It should allow you to make a living from it. You could be doing “your passion” as a hobby or side hustle, as Charlotte Cramer argues in “The purpose myth”, which suggests you don’t need to find purpose in your day job. But you will spend most of your time on earth earning a living – why not follow a calling if you are lucky enough to be able to? Anything less is a compromise and lacks ambition.
- PROBLEM: Thirdly, I think a calling stems from fixing a problem bigger than yourself. This is suggested in the purpose Venn above with “What the world needs”, but I think it goes beyond this to an issue that needs fixing. Mark Manson, in his provocatively titled “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck” says:
“For us to be happy, we need something to solve. Happiness requires struggle, and it comes from solving problems.”
The point is to find the problem you enjoy solving. That in the longer term once our initial primary needs are met, people get the most satisfaction and fulfilment from helping others.
Therefore a true calling is:
- Something that pays a salary, so you can commit the majority of your time to it. This might be working for someone or creating a business that serves a purpose.
- Something that you are passionate about, why live a life ignoring your passions?
- And finally something in the world that needs fixing, focussing on something greater than yourself.
Do you agree? Please let me know in the comments