When Callings Are Calling: Crafting Work and Leisure in Pursuit of Unanswered Occupational Callings

When Callings Are Calling: Crafting Work and Leisure in Pursuit of Unanswered Occupational Callings

By
Justin M. Berg, Adam M. Grant, Victoria Johnson
Organization Science. September
2010, Vol. 21, Issue 5, Pages 973-994

Scholars have identified benefits of viewing work as a calling, but little research has explored the notion that people are frequently unable to work in occupations that answer their callings. To develop propositions on how individuals experience and pursue unanswered callings, we conducted a qualitative study based on interviews with 31 employees across a variety of occupations. We distinguish between two types of unanswered callings—missed callings and additional callings—and propose that individuals pursue these unanswered callings by employing five different techniques to craft their jobs (task emphasizing, job expanding, and role reframing) and their leisure time (vicarious experiencing and hobby participating). We also propose that individuals experience these techniques as facilitating the kinds of pleasant psychological states of enjoyment and meaning that they associate with pursuing their unanswered callings, but also as leading to unpleasant states of regret over forgone fulfillment of their unanswered callings and stress due to difficulties in pursuing their unanswered callings. These propositions have important implications for theory and future research on callings, job crafting, and self-regulation processes.