You may have heard this before from Zig Ziglar, from Dan Miller, from Michael Hyatt - I’ve mentioned that I try to read uplifting and encouraging authors to help me stay motivated. Some things never get old nad bear repeating. With each of the above authors, they’ve put their personal spin on this. LIkewise, that’s the key element here. My life plan should be unique and different from anyone else’s life plan.
Work is love made visible, and if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half a man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
All work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. – Kahlil Gibran, THE PROPHET
How do we determine a clear path, a clear direction for our careers? First of all let’s define the difference between a job, a vocation, and a career.
JOB - what you do day-to-day to earn money to pay the bills and put bread on the table. It’s the most specific of the terms, and is essentially what your daily activities that produce income is.
I’ve held many jobs over the course of my life. I’ve worked as a waitress, a pizza delivery person, a day care worker, a secretary, a receptionist, a mapping technician, a cartographer, and a mortgage loan officer. I never intended the waitressing to be my career, it was what I did to earn money while attending college.
CAREER – a line of work, a specific “track” such as nurse, physician, attorney, engineer, etc. You can have different careers at different points of your life. My first career was as a cartographer working for the defense department. At certain times I really miss the financial security that career brought. My second career was being a stay at home mom – the stay at home part never happened. My third career is a hybrid mix of my Mortgage Loan officer job and working hard to build my writing career. In the vein of “calling”, I feel in my heart that writer is my “calling”. Just as years of college prepare us for “track” careers, life has been building and preparing me for my “calling” of writer.
VOCATION - This is the most profound of the three. It combines your calling, your purpose, your personal mission, and your destiny. This is the big picture view that many people never take the time to examine for themselves.
We want to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy, but how do we ever leave a legacy if we don’t get out of the daily rut to examine the bigger picture? this is how people get trapped in dead-end jobs. By the time you go to work, put in 8 hours or more, deal with life at home you’re tired weary and don’t have the energy to pursue other things. Then the cycle continues, and the longer it continues the less energy you have to break out of the rut.
A job will never give you true satisfaction. A career will not necessarily give you satisfaction. But when you combine your life passions, the desires of your heart with a vocational direction – you’re well on your way to leaving a lasting legacy. Vocation then is not so much of pursuing a goal as it is listening for that inner voice. HOw can I tell my life what I want to do with it when I don’t even know who I am?
Ah, here’s the secret litmus test. You have to “find yourself”. Listening to your own heart, your own desires, your own dreams and letting them be your guide to set your sights on that distant horizon.
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Vocation should combine these three critical areas:
- skills and abilities
- personal tendencies (temperament)
- values, dreams, and passions
You’ll never truly be satisfied with your career choice, or your job unless these three areas overlap. Without the combination you’re stuck on the hamster wheel of the workforce.
Work is necessary to provide income, income is necessary to pay your bills, paying your bills means you’re a productive part of society. The key is seeing beyond the daily grind, and not letting it grind you down in the process.
Write on my friends, write on.