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How to Find Your Calling, According to Psychology

20 Nov 09:00 by Kai Theriault

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By Christian Jarrett

Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion—what you really care about.” Barack Obama, as quoted by David Gergen (cited in Jachimowicz et al, 2018).

This Saturday Nov 17 in Newcastle is the first of two BPS careers events – “perfect for anyone looking to discover where psychology can take them in their chosen career.” A second follows in London on Dec 4. If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life – perhaps you are still unsure whether psychology is for you, or which area of the profession aligns with what you most care about – here are five digested research findings worth taking into consideration:

There’s a difference between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive passion
If you can find a career path or occupational goal that fires you up, you are more likely to succeed and find happiness through your work – that much we know from a deep research literature. But beware – since a seminal paper published in 2003 by the Canadian psychologist Robert Vallerand and his colleagues, researchers have made an important distinction between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive one. If you feel that your passion or calling is out of control, and that your mood and self-esteem depend on it, then this is the obsessive variety, and such passions, while they are energising, are also associated with negative outcomes like burnout and anxiety. In contrast, if your passion feels in control, reflects qualities that you like about yourself, and complements other important activities in your life, then this is the harmonious version, which is associated with positive outcomes, such as vitality, better work performance, experiencing flow, and positive mood.

Continue reading the rest of this article on the Research Digest Blog