Four Suggestions for Navigating Vocational Change

What do you do when you feel like you’re being called to embrace a new identity, a new call on your life? How do you embrace a new role?

I was talking to a friend of mine this week who believes she is going through a change in her calling. She is leaving behind the familiar rhythms and demands of what she’s known for a while, and choosing to embrace the mystery of this new thing that God is doing in her life.

She asked me the other day for some practical ways to embrace this new thing in her life.

  1. Adjust your schedule. When my call was wrapped up solely in music and songwriting, a portion of my week—usually on Wednesday—was dedicated to songwriting. In 2009/2010, my call began to change to teaching; in response a portion of my week became dedicated to study. When your call begins to change, you need to dedicate time to reflect this new call.
  2. Adjust your information. While I am the pastor of musical worship at my church, it’s my responsibility to seek out new music and new sounds. I need to challenge myself with new sounds and new approaches. However, because I take my call to teach seriously, I’ve begun making sure that I’m consuming information and ideas that push me forward as a thinker and communicator. If you are moving into a new area of vocation and/or ministry, you need to first label that new area (“teaching”, “leading”, “writing”, “leading worship”, etc.), and then go seek information (one of the most valuable resources for me with this is Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature).
  3. Adjust your conversations. As you are able to identify and name/label your new identity and call, seek people who (you think) are already in that role to have lunch or coffee. These meetings do not always need to involve direct, “Tell me how to live this out” questions. Often, they can begin with simply, “Tell me your story.”
  4. Be open to a disruptive experience. Don’t discount the fact that your new call may need to be reinforced or confirmed by an experience that is disruptive or different. Spiritually and emotionally, place yourself in a position of openness, and watch and listen. Often, we receive confirmation and earth-shaking revelations through conferences, prayers, or even concerts and films. Allocate resources (time, money, etc.) to put yourself in a position to have a disruptive experience that might just be a game changer for you.
  • Have you ever had to navigate a major vocational or identity change? What helped you move into this new area of calling?

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2 thoughts on “Four Suggestions for Navigating Vocational Change

  1. I’m currently going through this very thing, and have been for about three years. Recently, I went through this six month workshop at work on career management. We had mentors, had informational interviews, mock interviews with recruiters, and we also read this book called Working Identity by Heminia Ibarra–I highly recommend reading it. It expounds on what you’ve said here with many case studies of people making very big career changes. Those stories are very encouraging as you’re walking through the paths of change because…

    It’ll feel really crazy/split while you’re in your current place while trying to move elsewhere. The process is a lot more cyclical and curly-que than going from point A to point B, and the more you allow for that sort of process, the less stressed you’ll be. But a lot of times, you’ll be surprised, but pleased, at where you end up, as long as you give yourself time and don’t rush it. Apparently, we make about five career changes in our lifetime. So if you’re there right now, embrace it and embrace getting to know your new self and calling. Great post, Eric!

    • Exactly what I’d say Deborah! Vocational changes can be short seasons or long ones… and the “in between” season can be brutal… Thanks for adding your thoughts!

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