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My alma mater is UVic – the University of Victoria. Their alumni magazine is called The Torch and an article in the latest edition really hit home for me.  

On page 14 is an article by Brad Buie, BA ’99 called The Meaning of Work. It is primarily an article about Professor A.R. “Elango” Elangovan and his work and I want to share the highlights with you here. I’m hoping you leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

Fifty-two times a year a chorus trumpets “Thank God It’s Friday!” in coffee-rooms, cubicles and office corridors everywhere. It’s as though we have swum all week through inhospitable, dreary waters to get to the tropical desert island of the weekend. Considering that our work life can occupy the greatest portion of our waking hours, how we feel about it inevitably colours the meaning we assign to our lives.

Professor Elangovan and his colleagues are researching this issue. “We approach it as either a job, a career, or a calling.”

Those with a job orientation look on their work as a bit of a slog, performed for a paycheque, narrowly bound by contract and job description.

The career oriented are motivated by the challenges of their work, the sense of achievement, and various rewards: not only a good salary but also prestige, recognition and a clear set of rungs up the ladder.

Those who view their work as a calling are operating on another quantum level entirely. External validation and rewards don’t figure so largely in their motivation. Instead, the passion that drives them comes from the fulfillment of the work and a sense their efforts are making the world a better place. Emotionally, they feel “in the zone,” fully integrated, almost mystically as though they are living out their destiny…

“When it hits you, you know it in your bones. It shapes every decision you make.”

That’s exactly how I feel about my on-line business. I do know it in my bones, and it does shape every decision I make!

I have said it before but I love doing what I am doing to the point that if I was not making money with my on-line business I would do it anyways. The satisfaction at the end of every day is huge. And I do try to check in with my business every day… because I want to!

If you have not yet found your calling, Professor Elangovan has a suggestion: If we aren’t willing to switch to another kind of work, then he advises us to reframe the work we do. “Shine a light on this trade-off. If you’ve put your ladder against the wrong wall, then try looking at the wall differently.” Seeing through this “calling lens,” we can determine what aspects of our work can fire us up.

In closing he quotes Henry David Thoreau:

“Better to start exploring this question now rather than wonder what could have been.”

Do you have a job?  or a career?  or have you found your calling?

Do you want to make a change?  Can you make a change?  I’m interested in your thoughts!