Walking back to happiness: the resurgence of latent callings in later life

Jane Sturges, Katie Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Working in a domain to which one feels called has been heralded as a source of deep meaning and fulfilment, but not everyone is able to pursue their calling through paid employment. Current thinking positions such abandoned occupational callings as a source of regret, stress and disappointment but, by focusing on the perspectives of those still in mid-career, extant research has overlooked the potential for a calling to re-emerge in late adulthood. Drawing on life history narratives from retired individuals who felt called to music at an early age but did not pursue a musical career, we contribute to the corpus of work on unanswered callings by proposing the construct of latent callings to explain how callings may be held in the individual’s identity set primed to re-emerge, and reveal the mutable calling identity scripts that re-awaken the potential to live out a calling later in life. Our research shows how latent callings may be resumed via accommodation, deferred and emergent pathways and highlights the potential for a previously unanswered calling to become a source of social connection, deep happiness and enjoyment late in life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256-1284
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

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