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Job, Career, Calling: Aligning What Works for You

Updated: Apr 16

What stories shape how you see yourself and others? Part 8 of our 10-part series.

Work can be done for family household maintenance or not, for financial compensation or other types of pay, by individual or team efforts, to benefit individual or collective well-being. 

These scenarios can coexist and no one choice is better or worse than the other. Our stories around why, how, and what we do is what matters

Likewise, choices made within these scenarios can vary in priority as we age and experience various life challenges and successes depending on what we’re seeking: a job, career, or calling. 



For some people, financially compensated work is a job: a transaction of effort for money whose primary function promotes well-being outside of work. 


For others, financially compensated work is a calling: an emotional experience of choosing careers or jobs for personal well-being at and outside of work; these choices are often rooted in goals to benefit others’ well-being as well, and if applicable, factor spirituality into decision-making. 


Any job or calling you consistently work in overtime that applies initial or ongoing education and training with a focus on development can be categorized as a career

Misalignment at Work and Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

A calling can house a career. A career can house one or multiple jobs simultaneously and or multiple overtime. For some, their holistic wellness depends on a self-determined mix of specific point-in-time functions of a job, career, and or calling.   

The problem that can happen is when people make choices to participate in jobs, careers, or callings that are misaligned with one or more needs that are important to that individual.  

For example, a person believes they are called to work in a given career but the job they’re currently in fails to meet physiological and or psychological needs deemed important by their cultural memberships. This can cause this person to feel hopeless about their current situation, fearful about the future, and or tense physically and emotionally. 

Career Wellness

Career wellness becomes important here to promote alignment in these needs - that is actively making choices within any job, career, or calling to ensure - to the extent within your control - your specific life needs are met throughout your lifetime. 

Regardless of what you believe the function of work to be, experiencing a sense of wellness in this and all relevant dimensions of wellness is ideal. Career wellness can be achieved proactively and retroactively, just like all other areas of wellness.

5 Tips to Promote Career Wellness

*Disclaimer: This is not a how-to guide to apply to specific jobs or market your skills to potential employers. This is an opportunity for reflection so you can increase your understanding of your personal needs to then direct your choices to participate in a job, career, or calling that meets your physiological, psychological, and or self-fulfillment needs. 

  1. Determine what’s important to you. What’s important to you for work is likely to change based on specific events throughout your life. These factors that are important to you are known as career values. Think about it, your needs for work at 35 years old may have changed slightly or even dramatically as compared to your goals for work at 25 years old. This is because, throughout life, we have different needs and therefore prioritize our work needs around our life needs. Examples of career values can be:  Money, Experience, Relationships, Travel, Stability, Life-work harmony, Spontaneity, Achievement, Spirituality, and/or Technology. For support in determining your career values, work with a therapist who can provide career counseling and help you make sense of your important life factors. Additionally, check out this online 20-card Work Values Matcher by Career OneStop from the U.S. Department of Labor.

  2. Write an exit plan before you need it. Quiet quitting may seem impossible due to microaggressions at work (For more information on understanding and applying cultural wellness read: An Introduction to Culture and Cultural Wellness). Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to start thinking about quitting your job. Craft your exit plan at least 6 months in advance to alleviate distress and ensure your relevant wellness needs are met. 

  3. Craft your amazingly unique career story. Follow these rockstar tips in a 10-step guide to crafting a career story that shows you how to describe your career and employer history with grace, professionalism, and enthusiasm to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

  4. Prioritize your mental health needs. Perhaps you’re in the calling that works for you, but the financial or emotional needs in your career and or job do not. Perhaps you’re in a job that pays well for your ideal standards of living but it is not what you want to make a career out of long-term (or even the short-term!). Even still, perhaps you’re in a once previously exciting career but now see a need to heal from depression, anxiety, or long-term stress due to being bored, burned out, or working in a bullying-toxic environment. Self-assess what makes you discontent about the current situation. Identify alternatives that might benefit from a “Frankenstein” approach to mixing and matching to meet your current life and career needs. If desired, work with a therapist who can support you in your efforts. 

  5. Volunteer. Volunteering isn’t just for young adults in the college space. Adults with full-time responsibilities can benefit personally and professionally from volunteer efforts whether they are in-person or remote. How exactly does volunteering help add fulfillment and control to your life? Read this Idealist article for practical steps to maximize growth, identify transferable skills, and clarify your interests for your next job or career move. Don’t believe that volunteering as a busy adult is worth your time? If leadership skills without long-term experience, being happier, and a longer life is of interest to you, then check out this Fast Company article for more information.

Closing Thoughts 

Life experiences change what matters to you when pursuing financially compensated work. These factors are known as career values which are expected to change over time. Active, ongoing self-reflection on your holistic life needs can help prioritize your focus in pursuing a short- or long-term job, career, or calling. Promoting career wellness means proactively and retroactively identifying what and who can help you to be well at and outside of work, depending on your career values, and ultimately your life values. 

Call to Action

Looking for more? Subscribe to the Grace Counseling and Wellness, PLLC newsletter, Saving Grace for insights about prioritizing yourself, having better relationships with yourself and others, and dealing with life when responsibilities begin to feel overwhelming. We aim to empower you to make sense of your life so you can live with grace and wellness. 

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