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Understanding How Callings Develop: A Phenomenological Study of Millennials' Lived Experiences in Discerning a Calling through Meaning-Making Open Access

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This phenomenological study seeks to explore the lived experiences that have led Millennials through a meaning-making process to discover their callings. The primary research question framing this study addresses what the relationship is between Millennials' meaning-making process and the discovery of their calling. Secondary questions address how Millennials who have found their calling define and conceptualize the concept and sources of calling, what the lived experiences are that have led Millennials to discover their calling, and how Millennials make meaning of the experiences and influences that have led them to discover their calling. Perceiving and living a calling is associated with various life and work outcomes such as life satisfaction/meaning, job satisfaction, and meaningful work. However, little is known about how callings develop. Furthermore, there remain conflicting views on the conceptualization and source of calling. In addition, the existing research on calling is focused primarily on previous generations, university students, and individuals of religious-based backgrounds. It is important for researchers and practitioners to understand how members of the Millennial generation develop a calling, because this generation is currently in the workforce and is reported to be the biggest U.S. generation yet. While there is significant research on the career expectations of Millennials and how they value meaning in their work, there is little known about what experiences lead them to develop their callings and how they make meaning of those experiences to discern their callings. Thus, this study extends the body of research beyond these groups to Millennials who are currently in the workforce and living their callings in order to ensure that their perspectives and experiences of calling are incorporated into the literature. Eight Millennials who are currently living their calling were selected for participation in this interview-based study. The findings of the study are presented within the following three main themes: the conceptualization of calling, the lived experiences in developing a calling, and the meaning-making process as it pertains to developing a calling. Bases on these findings, conclusions were developed and implications and recommendations are suggested.

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