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Editorial Team
09 Oct 2019



A Job or a Calling – What Do You Do?

low job satisfaction

Be it for money or be it for pleasure, but a job is something most people do. And working to pursue your calling is the ultimate place to be!

In the context of jobs, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”

Most, if not all, people look at a job as a means to earn a living. After all, you do need an income to meet (and hopefully exceed by a decent margin!) your expenses. And there will be plenty of expenses – food, clothing, rent, fuel, leisure, and tons more! Typically, there are four things you consider when choosing a job:

  • What’s available
  • How much it pays
  • Whether or not the job is in something you are interested in
  • Your passion/love for the particular field of work

It’s true – more often than not, you first look at what is available and what it pays. You then try to connect it with something you are interested in or you find something in it that you like doing. Over time, or right at the start itself if you are lucky, you develop an insatiable passion for the job, and it becomes a calling of sorts. That sure is a utopia of sorts! Interestingly, an August 2019 survey by CareerBuilder revealed that half the employees polled felt they had “just a job”.

What’s the difference?

How then do you distinguish between a job, a career, and a calling? Let’s look at the typical work orientations of the three:

  • Job: something you do essentially for the money, benefits, and possibly some social perks. It is basically a means of affording the things you love.
  • Career: something you have a deeper personal investment in, and where advancement and money are your measures of achievement. You tend to have a long-term vision for your professional future.
  • Calling: getting fulfillment from the work at hand, regardless of the quantum of the reward. You feel a deep alignment, a personal and emotional connect, between your vocation and who you are as a person.

Where am I, then?

There’s no denying that the ideal stage to be at is the Calling. After all, nothing could beat making money from what you love to do, what you feel is your purpose in life! Often though, it is hard to figure out which of the three stages you are at. The following questions might help:

  • What is the most meaningful part of your job?
  • Are you emotionally satisfied at the end of the day?
  • If it were not for the pay, would you still choose to work in the current position or role?
  • Are you looking to make it to the top of your career path? Or, are you satisfied with where you are?

On what basis do I make a choice?

The process of deciding the career to pursue is not an easy one; it is critical, though, as you could be in the chosen line of work for a good three to four decades at least, and you would not want to be doing something you do not find the least bit engaging or challenging. Ambiguous as it may sometimes seem, you need to find what is right for you, even though it is likely that your goals and values change with time.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What is that I like to do?: Consider interests that can be monetized i.e. a fondness for writing, sketching, playing musical instruments, tinkering with technology, and others too. The list of monetizable skills is ever-expanding and opportunities keep coming up.
  • What am I good at doing?: Put down your natural talents along with the abilities developed through education, self-study, or life experiences. Look at the skills you have taken on and map these with relevant work opportunities.
  • What style of work gels best with me?: There are people who prefer a more free-flowing work style, relishing the dynamism of quick changes and more than happy to work accordingly. Others, though, prefer routine and structure to the things they do. Similar questions could arise when comparing working in teams to working as an individual contributor, or a desk job as against a field job.
  • What priorities and goals do I have?: Certain jobs require a lot of travel or may have unpredictable or long work hours; others may involve little to no travel and “safe” return timings. It is possible that the work you want to do is not available near where you live, and might necessitate moving to an area with more likable job prospects. You need to figure out what is more important to you and choose accordingly.

Can I turn my job into my calling?

It is difficult, but certainly not impossible. And what could be better than loving what you do and feeling it is what you were always meant to do? You can try a few things:

  • Change your outlook: learn to feel good about the work you do and how it is integral to the success of the business. Challenging yourself to change your outlook can breathe life and a sense of purpose.
  • Play to your strengths: a job that suits your strengths is likely to make you a satisfied employee and to get you closer to your calling. Seek to redesign your responsibilities such that your strengths are better leveraged.
  • Look outside yourself: seek to connect with colleagues as well as other interesting people outside the workplace, as this can only broaden your perspective and let you focus on a different aspect of your professional life.

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