The Connection of Life’s Calling/Work and Personal Mission

by Atim Annette Oton


One of the first series of exercises I give when I counsel artists and designers is about the essence of who they are. I speak to them about how their work is not only connected to their self but the state of who they were when they dreamed of what they wanted to be or do and/or chose their path. I call it Life’s calling and Life’s work. And one place to start is to define their Personal Mission.


I met an architect when I was 9 years old and I chose to become an architect. I knew back then it was one of my life’s calling (some people can have more than one, and I know now it was my first). It fueled my interest in design and continued my studies in fine art. I came to the US and studied architecture, graduated and got into the field. Architecture became my first personal mission.


By 2000, I left it and went into academia – my second calling. I am a daughter of an educator and journalist, so both are in my blood. Along the way, I discovered not only I loved retail, fashion and product design, but I also love publishing and teaching others about business and entrepreneurship. They now embody my second personal mission.


Calabar Imports, my company, embodies all of my personal missions: retail, fashion, product design, publishing, teaching others about business and entrepreneurship. I recall when I sat down and crafted it into what it has become. On an early Sunday morning, I woke up early about 7 years ago and decided it was time to leave my job as Associate Chair at Parsons School of Design. My passion of teaching had moved out of that space, it was more in the community and in Calabar Imports.


This was the second time I had reached a cross road and recognized my power, not to be inline with everyone, but to walk my path. I had connected my life’s work with my personal mission, and no matter how logical the argument to stay in a 9 – 5 job was in my head, I knew my soul was not there. Life’s work and calling are deeply connected to your soul, it moves you and will change everything.


Your Personal Mission is the definition of your core, your life’s goals and objectives converging. It’s your road map, your personal philosophy, and belief that is the cornerstone of your soul. It gives you purpose and ambition and becomes integrated into your life’s calling. Are you living your life’s calling? Why not?


Interested in working on your personal mission,  I am available to help at


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