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Living Your Purpose: Life Satisfaction and Career Calling


Some people profess that they have a “calling,” a specific job or purpose that they have been called by a higher power to do. In the modern sense, a calling is a profession that someone feels is purposeful, helps others, and serves as a channel for his or her passion. Research has shown that having a calling is an important factor in life happiness. But how does knowing what your calling is compare to actually doing it? To answer this question, Ryan D. Duffy of the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida recently led a study that examined how living one’s calling related to life satisfaction.

Duffy theorized that participants who were living their calling would be more satisfied with their jobs, more committed to their careers, and have higher levels of overall life satisfaction than participants who were not actively living their callings. He examined a diverse sample of adults, some of whom were indeed living out their life purposes, and others who felt called but were in jobs that did not allow them to pursue their purposes. Overall, Duffy found that living a calling was strongly associated with positive outcomes. Specifically, although having a calling and knowing what one is meant to do in life did increase life satisfaction slightly, living a calling led to significantly higher levels of career and life satisfaction.

Duffy also examined how job satisfaction affected life purpose and discovered that those who were living callings and highly satisfied with their jobs also felt that their lives had more purpose than those who were not actively engaged in their callings. Additionally, those who were living on purpose were more committed to their careers than the other participants. Duffy believes these findings have many implications for individuals and employees. Organizations that want to have committed, passionate workers should try to align employees with their preferences, those activities that they feel most compelled to do. Employees could work with career counselors, mentors, or spiritual and religious advisers to help discover their callings. Duffy believes these results also provide critical information for clinicians. “On the basis of the present study’s results, it is anticipated that if a client’s sense of living a calling increases, so might her or his satisfaction with life,” he said.

Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., Autin, K. L., Bott, E. M. (2012). Calling and life satisfaction: It’s not about having it, it’s about living it. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030635

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  • tamara December 16th, 2012 at 7:54 AM #1

    “But how does knowing what your calling is compare to actually doing it?”

    I think knowing what your calling is gives a sense of a fixed goal and satisfaction to know that you are aware.But actually living it would be marvelous.Its not going to be a superlative experience though,because when you only know there is satisfaction but when you set out to do it you have got to face so many challenges and stumbling blocks that may come in your way.that would dent a bit in the satisfaction levels I’m sure.

  • celeste December 16th, 2012 at 9:50 AM #2

    The hardest thing about all of this is that I think that I have finally found my true calling. . . but now I am a wife and a mom and have a household to support, so how am I supposed to have the time or even the courage to go back and start over again to pursue this dream?

    I really wish that I could have found that calling sooner :(

  • Space Onion December 16th, 2012 at 2:35 PM #3

    Well,considering the fact that people generally rate job satisfaction higher than even compensation,and also that a job that you’re happy in leads to a better feeling of satisfaction,I am not surprised at the findings.I would personally do anything to do what my heart says for just enough money rather than slave away in a little cubicle all my life for much bigger money.

  • runninfast December 17th, 2012 at 4:08 AM #4

    show me the money
    i can be happy with anything

  • GABE December 17th, 2012 at 9:52 AM #5

    ^^ You would be surprised at how many people have given up on well paying jobs because they we not happy in them. Yes, the charm of money may draw you to a job at first but when you have been there for years without any interest in it when you know your calling is something else, that is unbearable.

    I’ve been there done that and its not pretty.It took me some time to realize it but yes I did leave a well paying job too, maybe a little later than others but I have finally realized that your dreams and vision are more important than a fatter pay check.

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