I recently delivered a speech to 6th Formers at one of our local Academies. When I finished the speech I realised that the whole thing was just as relevant to people in business as it was students. I did a bit of career advice, but if you know me, you would know I didn’t do it in the traditional way.  I talked to them about finding a role with Meaning, that gave them Pleasure and that they had the Skills for.

In his, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), Baz Luhrmann said

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”

There’s reason that some 40 year old’s don’t know what to do in life, they haven’t found their calling yet. They do a job that doesn’t give them pleasure, or meaning or they are simply not very good at it.

If you thought the pursuit of money would be the answer, think again. Many successful people are rich, and many rich people are successful, this much is true, but according to Gallup Healthways in their 2008/9 study[1], they found that in America after income reaches $75,000, there is no noticeable change in a person’s happiness. Daniel Kahneman the lead Nobel Prize winning psychologist and best-selling author said, not only was the link statically robust, it was one of the flattest lines he ever seen statistically. You see our primary needs have all been met at that level then we are just earning more money, to buy more stuff we don’t actually need, just want or desire.

I am explaining this to the 6th Formers and then going on to explain the MPS Process[2] by Dr. Tal Ben-Shalar. This simple process takes the three things I mentioned at the beginning;

  • Meaning – What gives you meaning, what do you care about
  • Pleasure – What do you enjoy doing
  • Skills – What are you good at

In a table you simply list as many things as you can in each column, and then look for the common ground amongst all three, for instance you get meaning from helping children, you enjoy reading and you are very good at English. This could mean that a career as an English Teacher could be your calling.

I am fortunate that at 45 I have gone through that process and found my calling.

As we all go through the inevitable New Year’s resolutions, may be its time for you to really think about what your calling is?

[1] The study, by economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who has won a Nobel Prize for Economics, analysed the responses of 450,000 Americans polled by Gallup and Healthways in 2008 and 2009.

[2] The MPS Process was created by Harvard professor and best-selling author, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar, and was published in his book, “Happier.”