Myths—half-truths and made up stories that blind us to reality—are robbing us of a clear, whole-life, confidence building sense of calling.  For you our readers, we want more. We want you to have clarity regarding your vocational path and confidence that you are in the career and job where you are meant to be. And so we’ve been exposing calling-robbing myths, lies really.  We finish with two that relate to the process of finding your calling.

Myth #7: Calling Is a Once and Done.  

“Once and done” is a terribly unhelpful idea about calling. It goes something like this: “calling is something I discover once, and if done correctly, is a settled question for the rest of my life.”

Remember when you were a child and people would ask you: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many of us are doing those things?

I have four or five friends who went into veterinary medicine, and they each had this vision since their childhood. Now that’s a calling. For them. Most people I know are NOT doing what they imagined when they were kids. But that doesn’t mean they are not called.

It is possible that for some of us, we’ll have a clear, straightforward, and consistent career calling most or all of our lives.

Yet this is increasingly infrequent as many of us will work 8-10 jobs in 3-5 different career fields over our working lives.

I want you to know that we are in good company. Moses in the Bible was a prince, a shepherd and a then a revolutionary. Jesus was a carpenter for 30 years and then a rabbi.

The idea that we are once and for all zapped with an instant sense of life-long work-purpose is a myth.

Discovering and realizing purpose is an iterative process that unfolds over the course of our lives.

One of my mentors, Bobb Bhiel, suggests that the target for having it all come together with clarity, focus, and momentum is the decade of our 50s, and setting us up for our years of most significant impact and earning, 60s to 80s! So relax and learn to embrace the process of finding and following your calling for now.

RELATED: 8 Myths That Can Ruin Your Sense of Calling (Part 3 of 4)

Myth #8: Your Inner Voice is the Key to Calling.

How do you find your calling?

We are told, “listen to your heart.” The Oracle of our day is this inner voice, the unencumbered self. And so, this voice is the primary source of wisdom and direction when we are sorting out what we should be when we grow up. Where does this affinity for the inner voice come from and why is it a calling myth?

The inner voice has replaced external ones because most of us have been taught to trust no one but ourselves. Authority figures seem to topple from their pedestals daily. Parents, teachers, and clergy let us down or worse—hurt us deeply.  Cultural institutions coopt our voices for their respective agendas. And so, experience says trust no one but yourself.

Here’s the sad irony.  We let ourselves down, too.

Have you ever found your inner voice (your gut), to be in error? Have you thought that new friendship, romance, gadget or app was going to be amazing only to find out that it was a disaster?

We see this with clients all the time; they end up in jobs they hate. They didn’t think they’d hate them when they signed on the dotted line.  Their inner voice was wrong.

Point: Even your inner voice is suspect. Be careful when discerning the next step in your vocational calling journey: the only sound you hear may be your own.

The myth says “just listen to your inner voice to find your calling.”

Reality says, find wise ways to combine the multiple voices with your own as you discern your calling: the voice of others, the voice of objective assessment, and the voice of God.

How About You? 

Has the once and done myth tricked you into thinking you must have missed your calling and it is too late?  Has the inner voice myth sent you on a wild goose chase? What does it look like to push past these myths and settle into a wisdom-shaped process of seeking God’s plan for your work?

Dr. Chip Roper is the President and Principal Consultant of The VOCA Center. VOCA’s vision is to make work better for individuals and teams by transforming secular jobs into sacred callings. Trained in Executive Coaching at Columbia University, Chip tackles the vocational challenge from 30 years of experience as a small businessman, a pastor, a career coach, and a business consultant.