I just read Adam Grant’s research on how people pursue their calling (interests/passion) in the work setting or in leisure.
Two findings from his research really struck a chord for me: “Pursuing unanswered callings through job and leisure crafting techniques increases the likelihood of experiencing stress, such that (a) individuals with missed callings are more likely to experience frustration, whereas (b) individuals with additional callings are more likely to experience overload.”
“Pursuing unanswered callings through job and leisure crafting techniques increases the likelihood of experiencing regret, such that (a) individuals with missed callings are more likely to experience long term regret, whereas(b) individuals with additional callings are more likely to experience intermittent regret.”
If you are like me and have additional things in life that you really want to explore it sometimes does get frustrating and overwhelming since there is only so much time in a day to pursue other things. At times, I have felt regret for not paying more attention to these callings and making the time in my life to pursue them.
However, it is super important to keep in mind that there is no reason to regret the past because all of your experiences culminated into who you are today. Like the butterfly effect, If any one thing was changed in the past you may be an entirely different person today with different regrets.
I would even hypothesize that if you were able to go back in time to change events so that you wouldn’t feel regret, you would probably experience some other form of regret today. The most important things about the emotions of stress, overload, and regret is to acknowledge them, figure out why you feel a certain way, and then make changes in your life going forward.
These emotions in some ways are great because they provide an opportunity to develop in ways that you probably wouldn’t have pushed yourself before. Just remember there is a fine line between allowing these emotions to knock you down vs. learning from them and applying them to your own life.
I think what is most cool about Grant’s research is that almost everyone has unanswered callings and are trying to figure out how to pursue these callings in day to day life. Deep down there are passions that people are trying to express.
Unfortunately, the way that we as a society currently structure “work” makes it difficult for the majority of people to pursue multiple callings. From my own work experiences and conversations with others I definitely think there is an opportunity for organizations to take an active role in helping employees to pursue their callings. I would even guess that this would increase productivity and make economic sense for businesses using a similar argument that Jeffrey Pfeffer made in the blog post I wrote about earlier.