30: New Research on Life Calling | Stephanie Shackelford


Overwhelm from decisions in how to move forward can come through as analysis paralysis and FOMO. Suddenly you’re wondering if you are still grounded in your original purpose. Want to hear data-backed answers to better live in your purpose? Today, we discuss new research in Life Calling.

Dr. Stephanie Shackelford is a writer, researcher, and coach who specializes in the topic of Life Calling. She’s the author of a new book called  You on Purpose: Discover Your Calling and Create the Life You Were Meant to Live, which reveals new research by the Barna Group. Stephanie is a senior fellow at the Barna Group primarily studying vocation and calling. She is also a contributing author to two other books on similar topics. She received her Doctorate from Northeastern University and is an Adjunct Instructor at Vanderbilt University while running her own career coaching company, You on Purpose Coaching.

We’re all created on purpose, and for a purpose. Stephanie always wanted to help people. She started out in nonprofits, yet found herself later forging a career for Life Calling. She works to help people recognize that every life is its own story, and is part of a grander journey. She describes it as people being designed and created for specific activities that really speak to who they are individually, and how they can use that in service or benefit to others.

When people aren’t engaging in work with a purpose-driven orientation, the ripple effect can be draining for individuals and teams. During our conversation, we explore why the context of your life can influence your calling, ways to integrate small-scale trial and error in testing your Life Calling, and what is the overall aim of pursuing a Life Calling. Take time to get to know yourself, your context, and your times, so you can determine your next move in this intentional process.

Time stamps:

  • [00:18] - Stephanie Shackelford says that she wrote the book she needed to read.
  • [02:48] - An elective course during grad school led Stephanie into a career studying Calling.
  • [04:29] - Life Calling is about using your gifts for the benefit of others, and that can show up in multiple ways.
  • [06:52] - Listen as Stephanie gives the background of the new research.
  • [08:49] - Who is engaging work in a purposeful way?
  • [10:35] - The idea and reason attached to work make the difference in how people show up.
  • [12:41] - Stephanie shares why the context of your life informs your Calling.
  • [15:25] - What are ways to test different paths of Life Calling? 
  • [17:38] - Explore projects and take small bets towards your Life Calling on your own time.
  • [19:26] - Why do people sometimes not take steps towards their Life Calling?
  • [21:25] - Living your passion will still have ebbs and flows. It’s Life Calling that makes embracing challenges worth it.
  • [24:10] - Stephanie gives her thoughts on “Happiness” being the overall goal of living purposefully.
  • [26:25] - How does Stephanie’s faith impact her view of Life Calling?
  • [29:07] - Get to know yourself, your context, and your times, so you can determine your next move.
  • [31:26] - Think about the desires you are drawn to, and understand any pain you experienced.
  • [33:54] - Stephanie discusses the power of our motivations under the work we complete.
  • [35:42] - How can you find the overlap of self, your context, and your times?
  • [37:31] - Stephanie shares which three questions can give you more clarity around Life Calling.
  • [39:29] - Stephanie explains a time she felt she was being called by something bigger than herself.


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