Work has been an important part of my life as it’s of many people. If you are not satisfied with your current job, you are not alone. Many Americans struggle to find meaning and fulfillment in their work and sometimes it takes a lifetime to find work that has meaning. Read on for the difference between a job and a calling.
When I grow up
If someone would ask my younger self what I wanted to be when I would grow up, I probably would have answered either a journalist or an entrepreneur. I guess it was in many ways the kind of life I wanted to live. For me it was the ultimate dream – meeting new people, going to new places, getting paid for reading books and finding ways to improve the world we live in and make a change.
Since business, books, societal topics and technology have always been part of my life and interests, it’s no surprise that I ended up doing something related to that. At some point I have fallen in love with blogging, although I truly don’t know how to explain it other than that I was obsessive about it. In many ways it was the perfect opportunity to share the things that I have lived through with others. In other ways it was the ultimate chance to share stories and to express my thoughts on topics that often remain unspoken.
As long as I can remember, I have been writing and keeping journals. When I started with my personal blog, I made the commitment to write with an audience in mind – women. It could be from a fleeting observation to just thoughts to share. Most importantly, the topics had to inspire me in some way, empower me or inform me, or make me laugh a little bit.
When it comes to my blog, it is simply a record of my own curiosity – of my personal journey into what matters in the world and why. Because of that, it’s hard to determine what is actually “work” – as it’s my life as well. I can have a conversation with someone that gives me a dozen ideas to think about, to learn about, and thus to write about. Most of the times the topics are already in my mind and as a matter of fact I’m already paying attention to them – only now I’ve found a way to actually share those thoughts.
Ever since I started creating content online, something clicked with me. It was very clear to me that it brought me a lot of excitement and that I had to find every possible way to keep on doing it. So I fully focused on creating more. More blogs, more videos, more stories. If only my mom and some robots would come to my site, then I wouldn’t really care about that. I remember that I wanted to do it and I wanted to become better in doing it.
The fuel of your work
I know from my own experience that doing work that you’re passionate about is a real privilege. It’s a real privilege to be able to do what you love to do every single day. Passion to me is about that strong desire to do more of that something you truly care about. I often describe it as a state where you’re fueled by the energy of your work. The real joy comes from doing that thing and the more energy you put into it, the more energy you get back from it. It is worth your time, and it’s something you love to do, even without getting paid for it. Not only does passion gives you joy and meaning, but it also gives you the determination to push forward. Even when you are having harsh days at work, you still love to do it.
Therefore, I believe that when we work hard for something we don’t care about, we end up being stressed out. Work becomes hard when we have to force ourselves to do it, and we have to force ourselves when it’s inherently boring. But working hard for things that are worth you’re time will give you energy. When we commit ourselves to do something that we are naturally interested in, we start an immediate feedback loop that strengthens quickly. We will respond by offering our blood, sweat and tears because we want to be part of making things thrive. Although passionate work will likely make you tired often, it never drains or exhausts you. The key is to find things that you deeply enjoy spending your time on.
At last, the drive that I have is not the hunger from ambition and wanting more – it’s the ambition of passion and doing things that are worth my time. My drive stems from this desire to learn more, and I like to see how many great things I can do in that sense. It would be great for example, to reach as many women as possible from all over the globe every month with my blog posts. I’m curious if I’ll achieve my goals. If not, what would be the worst thing that could possibly happen? Most of the times I am able to live with the worst-case scenarios and that it’s worth it to take the risk and put in the effort.
The value of a purpose-driven life
The roots for a purpose-driven life stems mainly from the spiritual and religious area, but there are a handful of studies too that tend to prove the positive impact it has on our life. According to the study a life with a purpose can be defined differently for different people. But in general it indicates that you have an aim in life and goals. This purpose would help to make it more likely that you will engage in behaviors that are good for your health.
In other words, it makes you more likely to protect your health, to reduce stress, or inflammation. In fact, having the ability to reframe bad experiences and trauma is what sets the purpose-driven person apart from someone who feels aimless. When you feel you can’t do anything, what’s the point of even living? Besides the fact that purpose is still an active field of research, the potential benefits can serve you in different ways.
Job, career, passion
Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at Yale School of Management, has spent her career researching how individuals identify with their work. As a result, Amy distinguishes three categories of work.
The first category is the job. A job is what we do to make a living. We need money to support our lives, and most of the times it is considered as a means to an end. People who view their work as a “job” are working for the money and contain their time at work. All of the people in her research show little satisfaction and meaning in what they do. They are generally looking for something new.
The second attitudes individuals can adopt towards work is the career. A career is the path that you take in order to realize a certain position for yourself. A career not only helps to pay your bills, but it also gives you the opportunity to grow. One of the limitations a career can have is the sense of meaning. Once you reach the top, you might realize that that top feels meaningless to you.
Thirdly, individuals can also consider their work as a calling. A calling is about passion. It’s about spending your time to something that connects with you. The people who view their occupation as a calling are deeply aligned between their work and who they are as a person. People that consider themselves to be part of this group are often the ones who are the most satisfied with what they do for a living: they like the way they spend their time. As this article describes:
“A calling is an activity you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it — often to the detriment of your life outside of it.”
I’ve been in all of three categories and once I found that calling it was powerful. At this point, there is no sense in putting energy into activities that don’t feed my purpose. Which helped me to turn down a lot of work in order to focus and direct the course of my life.
As Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski has identified, there are three different ways of how individuals identify with their work. Some of us will have a job throughout their life. Others will have a career, and just a few of us will be blessed with the opportunity to have our career and our calling come together.
But as my writing describes – there is no “best way”. Neither a job, career or calling is better; they’re just different and there is something to be said for each option. You may have a job you enjoy (or can live with) yet know that what makes you feel passionate and powerful is not your job, but outside interests and experiences. I think the key is to follow a path – either personally or professionally – that lights you up on the inside, and motivates you to be all you can be.
For example, I’m convinced that women can be aged and sexy at the same time. We can be both highly financially successful and be a warm and loving mom too. Since I always encourage myself in this, I want to do the same with you. If that’s your dream, then never limit yourself – or let others or society limit you. Every step along the way there will be people saying you can’t be or do something, or that you can’t have all the things you want.
However I create content for this platform, I will also be creating content for other platforms too. And although I’m a creator and writer, I like to be in business too. I enjoy working on different projects and never let anyone pigeonhole me, or put me in a box. The approach to my career is to basically select my projects based on what I feel personally attracted to, and then just stick with that initial feeling. Let me know in the comment section below if you have found your calling or how you approach your work.
In this section you can find more blog posts I wrote about the meaning of work. But you can also pick the ones below: