The Lost Vocation
This article is based on my
ebooks and .
Some people reserve the word
"vocation" for religious calling. Modern career planning
encourages people to think of a "life purpose" that
guides and gives meaning to a life, regardless of career.
Many people speak of being "called" to a career. There
is a sense of "inevitability," that, "I was meant
to do this." Some say, "This feels right."
Self-help books, career coaches and counselors are available
to help people who want to discover their sense of purpose. In
reality, all any of us can do is stir the pot: create an environment
where vocation can be discovered and grown.
It can be more difficult to deal with losing a much-loved career
that gave meaning to a life. Sometimes the vocation can be taken
away when a job is lost or a market disappears.
Often, however, people feel no external push out the door. They
just realize, sadly, that they no longer love what they are dong.
Or they no longer believe their work has value. And, they ask,
Losing a vocation is not the same as "burning out."
Burnout, a well-defined psychological condition, results when
people feel they are giving more to their work than they are
getting back. They begin to see clients as ungrateful and undeserving.
Burnout requires healing: deeper personal relationships, creativity,
and time off. A lost vocation cannot be healed. It may return
in a different form but people must recognize that it is a real
loss that will be grieved.
the way home
There is no simple formula for dealing with the lost vocation,
but I suggest these four
First, not everyone experiences
severe grief symptoms -- sleeplessness, self-destructive actions,
loss of appetite -- but if you do, see a licensed therapist or
Second, when you are ready, introduce new
actions and activities into your life. In the early stages, do
not worry about finding a new vocation. Just begin to act.
You may want to keep a journal or embark on a creativity program,
such as The Artist's Way. You may enter a temporary setting,
such as the Peace Corps or a university degree program.
Third, honor what you
lost. A part of you will always reside there. A dancer-turned-business-student
uses the discipline or dance to excel in her studies. A teacher-turned-flight
attendant can handle restless passengers.
Fourth, realize you have a wonderful gift:
the capacity to find meaning in life and work. Begin working
towards a new future, realizing that one day you will be caught
up in a new adventure.
new vocation will come as a surprise,
perhaps when you give up looking. It won't be the same but you
will feel rewarded, happy, fulfilled and stronger.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*