Jobs, Careers and Callings

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!



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9 Responses to Jobs, Careers and Callings

  • Agnes:

    Great article and study. I live in Ottawa, Canada’s national capital. There is a high percentage of government workers who have jobs! Living for the weekend and living for retirement and I find it so hard to relate.

    I started off with a career, loved what I did, was dedicated to what I did but not sure it was a calling but definitely a lifestyle.

    I’d say now I’m part career and part calling. I coach many people who have a calling but can’t make it work. They put their calling before their own needs. The fundamental problem with that is that if you don’t take care of yourself then you can serve people with your calling.
    Heather Cameron recently posted…Midweek Spark – 7 Ways to Grow Your ListMy Profile

  • Excellent post Agnes, thanks for sharing.
    Merle Gibbins recently posted…Anti Virus Is Very ImportantMy Profile

  • I can relate to this very well Agnes. I spent a large part of my life doing something I was very good at, but it bored me silly and I really got no inspiration from it! I will do the online stuff for as long as it takes to get where I really want to be, even if I die trying. That’s the difference between doing something you hate or something you love. It’s easy to do and not a struggle because you love to do it anyway.
    Good post. Thanks for sharing
    Barrie Evans recently posted…How To Fix Your Self Image So You Start Making Money.My Profile

  • very good article, and awesome advice!

  • Agnes it’s sooo good to find what you’re passionate about and love. I guess I’m the sort of person who’s always changed when a job got boring and moved to another. But…. I completely understand people who go to work JUST for the paycheck at the end of the week/month.

    Somehow it feels so secure!! … even though it might not be!

  • I’ve never thought to separate the career-minded from the people with a calling before, but that absolutely fits. I’ve been in all 3 categories. Thanks for the eye-opener!

  • Great post Agnes. I’ve found my calling too, and I agree with you, when it feels right, you’ll do it even when you’re not getting paid!
    Helen Willsher recently posted…Feeling Stuck in a Dead End Job?My Profile

  • I love what I do – I’m not sure I’d call it a calling but I don’t have that TGIF feeling as I often work on Saturdays (because I choose to!)

    I do however have a TGIWineTime – does that count?
    Lorraine McNulty recently posted…Google Plus Cover Photo Size Changes Again!My Profile

  • Great post, Agnes. Although I do like what I do and the people I work with at my J-O-B it’s not as rewarding to me as my online business I’m building. I want to have a sense of purpose and I’m getting this in my new found journey.
    Mark recently posted…Your Starting Guide For Your Online BusinessMy Profile

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