Zhang, C., Hirschi, A., Herrmann, A., Wei, J., & Zhang, J. (in press). The future work self and calling: The mediational role of life meaning. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-15, doi:10.1007/s10902-016-9760-y
Research on calling prevailingly focuses on the positive effects on well-being and career development. However, explorations of the predictors and emergence of callings are sparse. We tested a model in which clarity about the future work self promotes one’s sense of calling through increased life meaning. We sampled 473 Chinese college students with a three-wave panel design over 1 year. Using time-lagged analysis, we found that the future work self at T1 significantly predicted increased life meaning at T2, which, in turn, significantly predicted increased calling at T3. This indirect effect was significant and supported the hypothesized longitudinal mediation model. The reverse effects of one’s calling as a predictor of self-clarity about one’s future work life or life meaning were not confirmed. Our findings suggest that among Chinese college students, self-clarity about one’s future work life and understanding one’s life meaning are two important steps in the development of one’s calling.