Be sure to answer the right calling

By Helen Frances

A change of heart can get a jobseeker into the right position.

When he was 28 Andrew Young left a promising career in journalism to follow his heart.

"I was being groomed for a role in the Wellington gallery as a political reporter, often regarded as the pinnacle of journalism. But I was approached about a media/communications role with the Starship Foundation and immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. As a reporter, I had been inspired by the Starship every time I went there to cover a story - the patients battling complex medical conditions being cared for by these incredibly dedicated doctors and nurses in an amazing child-friendly environment. How could I say no to that?" Young says.

Taking an initial cut in salary, even with a large mortgage and house renovations to finance, he worked five years as communications manager at the Starship Foundation, seven years as CEO of the foundation and the last 1 years as global marketing director for Les Mills International.

But family now takes precedence and he decided to contract/consult to establish a more fulfilling work/life balance with his wife and three children. "I want to be an awesome dad, not an absentee dad," he says.

For Young, a calling is when professional skills, career ambitions, personal interests and values fuse together.

Job satisfaction is exceptionally high, regardless of the demands on time and energy.

"You don't mind the hard work and sacrifice because you are totally committed to what you are doing. On the flipside if your job feels like hard work, which you resent then you definitely haven't found your calling. It's more about following your gut and your heart, rather than your head."

As a journalist he used his abilities to think quickly.

"But it didn't give me a deep sense of service like the Starship Foundation role, which was all about supporting and boosting the health and wellbeing of our country's children. It felt like an incredibly important need."

To discover what is right for them people need to be active and seize the opportunities when they occur, which can happen at any time.

"And it doesn't always mean an opportunity presenting itself to you. Sometimes you have to go and create the opportunity or go door knocking to make it happen."

An unconventional, entrepreneurial approach works well, he thinks. Entrepreneurs "back themselves, chase their dreams and create their destinies. And if it all goes pear shaped, they start again."

A calling is for anyone and everyone, he says, whether it's paid or voluntary work.

"If you are a well-paid stockbroker, totally in love with what you do and it lines up with your values and beliefs, then I'd say you've found your calling. A calling is a very personal thing, and it certainly isn't reserved for saints or Mother Teresa."

Business psychologist Jean de Bruyne has worked with hundreds of clients, but she says few make the - often radical - change required to discover or follow what they may be called to do.

"People want the safety net because we are brought up to believe the safety net is important rather than throwing caution to the wind," De Bruyne says.

And people may also be caught up in meeting more material aspirations.

Her own work is fulfilling, although when she chose psychology she was not fully aware what attracted her. She says psychology provides people with ways to discover more about themselves and their direction rather than "meandering through life".

Examples are all around in New Zealand, she says. The Mucking In programme on television "shows people who are called to be the kind of person they are in the community they live in. In turn they are expressing who they are - just everyday New Zealanders who aren't necessarily rich and famous."

- NZ Herald

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