Have You Found Your Calling, But Hate Your
When Your Job In Your Chosen Field Is Not What You’d Hoped For
by Leslie Godwin
I got a call recently from Bonnie, a 32 year-old third grade teacher in the
Southwest. She loves teaching. She loves working with her students. But she
hates the “breakroom politics” that make her feel lonely in a job that she
thought would be full of camaraderie and of sharing ideas with her peers.
“This IS my calling,” Bonnie explains. “But I can’t handle working in this
environment much longer. It’s burning me out.”
What do you do when you’ve found your calling, but actually working a job in
your chosen field is not what it was supposed to be?
What To Do
The good news is, you’re still in touch with your calling and you care about
doing something rewarding. Here are some tips to help you figure out your next
move before you get more burned out. Or before you jump into something else out
of desperation that will pull you away from your calling.
1. Find out if all opportunities to work in your field are as unhealthy
for you as your current workplace.
I asked Bonnie if she had explored local private schools, other public
schools, or even opportunities to teach adults.
Teaching is her calling, but she was somewhat flexible about the population
she taught, as long as she felt she could make a difference in their lives.
2. Try to change your working environment, if possible.
Some workplaces are simply toxic. That’s not your fault. But think about what
you might be doing to make it worse for yourself, if anything. For example:
- Are you overly sensitive at times with others?
- Did you have a falling out with someone that can be repaired?
- Can you align yourself with your supervisor’s goals, and not take their
narrow-minded pursuit of them personally?
- Do you hope that well-documented nasty people at work will suddenly see
the light and treat you properly?
3. If you can’t change your working environment, and it’s not helping to
take a different mental approach to your job, you probably have to take a step
back from thinking of a particular job description as your calling.
Boil down what your calling really consists of. This brainstorming exercise
A) Set a timer for 10 minutes and get out a pad and pen.
B) Start the timer and write as fast as you can all the things you feel are
associated with your calling. What key words come to mind (teach, develop,
research...) and what populations seem interesting (seniors, children, parents
of toddlers...)? What time in the lifespan do you want to intervene (pregnancy,
infancy, toddlerhood, school-age, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults,
seniors...)? Just keep writing!
C) When the timer goes off, take a look at your ideas and circle the ones you
really feel drawn to.
D) Finally, brainstorm at least ten career possibilities that could include
some of the most important ones. (This is to help you see that you’re not tied
to any particular job description.)
Now would be a good time to draft an initial Mission Statement (You can
email me for my free worksheet at
firstname.lastname@example.org) now that you have some new ideas about what you
want to include in your career path.
Pick one or two of the most promising ideas and start writing an actual plan
to pursue that idea(s). In my experience, the best opportunity will come up as
your pursuing one of these “good enough starting points.”
Use your imagination, or your intuitive mind, to solve this part of the
problem. Wait until the actual planning phase to put your rational mind to work.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful
servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the
- Albert Einstein
Leslie Godwin, MFCC, is a Career & Life-Transition Coach specializing in helping
people put their families, values, and principles first when making career and
life choices. Leslie is the author of, "From Burned Out to Fired Up: A Woman's
Guide to Rekindling the Passion and Meaning in Work and Life" published by
Health Communications. For more information, go to