do you have a job, a career or a calling?



Many of us grapple with the idea of a calling. Is our job our calling? Is a career a calling? If we have a calling, how do we find it? So where are you right now? 

Recently I have been studying the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky a Professor at the University of California, Riverside. Sonja is an integral part of the positive psychology movement and her work centers around the idea of happiness. 

In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja argues how the pieces of our happiness break down. Form her studies she believes that 50% of our happiness comes from our genetic set point. Another 10% of our happiness comes from our circumstance. And a bold 40% of our happiness comes from intentional activity - what we do and how we think. In other words, we have control over 40% of our overall happiness. 

This idea is the basis for a lot of Sonja's arguments. 

When it comes to our work life, she had some interesting insights on the matter. 

According to Sonja, and I have to say I agree, we tend to categorize our work life into one of 3 categories: a job, a career, or a calling. 

A job is seen as a necessary evil. It is simply a means to an end. A paycheck. It is not necessarily a positive or rewarding experience. Work is hard and unenjoyable, and one works as a means to enjoy the time they have away from their job. 

A career is a step up from a job. It is a job with room for advancement. It may not be a major positive part to someones life, but there is opportunity for growth - making it far less stagnant that a job. When people find themselves in a career, they are more likely to invest time and effort into what they are doing - instead of just going through the motions for a paycheck. 

A calling is the cream of the crop. Those who consider themselves to have found their calling genuinely enjoy their working life and find what they are doing to be fulfilling and useful. People are no longer working because they have to, but because they want to, regardless of financial success. It becomes an integral part of daily life, not a separate necessary component. 

Finding your calling sounds absolutely dreamy. It is truly what we are all reaching for. So why is it that so many people find themselves stuck in bottomless jobs or careers? Driven purely by money, rather than genuine interest or passion? 

Dan Millman's book, The Four Purposes of Life, sheds some additional light on the topic:

"The primary difference between a career and a calling is that we pursue a career primarily for income and a calling primarily for innate satisfaction." 

But there can be overlap. A career can become a calling, and a calling can become a career.

You may begin a career mostly for the money and experience, but find that a deep passion begins to form from what you are doing - making it a calling as well. 

The same goes for the flip side. You may be pursuing a calling, something you are truly passionate about, with no income in sight. You do it purely for the joy of it. But eventually, that passion begins to bring in money one way or another. In turn making said calling into a career. 

Ultimately, we need far more to sustain us, and build greater happiness than just a career with room for advancement. A career can give us a great sense of potential, with its room for growth. But is there any purpose or passion? 

"Pleasure is not enough to sustain most people's interest and commitment for extended periods of time. Value and meaning are vital." - The How of Happiness

I could not agree more with Sonja. If you are looking to find a calling, or even just deeper longterm enjoyment in your every day work, you need to have a deeper level of value and meaning to the work you are doing.

Success, growth, and even enjoyment can sustain us for a period of time. But eventually we grow stagnant. Without something deeper driving us forward, we will fizzle out or cease to find enjoyment from what we are doing. 

So where would you say you find yourself right now? Are you trapped in a job just to get by? A career with the promise for more financial success? Or have you found a genuine calling in your life? 


do you have a calling?



This question is one I get often. If you had asked me this just a few years earlier, I would have shrugged my shoulders and brushed off the question. For a long time I think I was searching for just that: a calling. 

A singular thing. That ONE BIG idea that I was put here to complete. A reason to get up in the morning, a purpose that transcends just keeping myself alive day to day. I was constantly search for something, but could never pin point quite what is was. 

Then one day the lights went on. 

It wasn't an exact moment, it developed over time. As if I had just woken up from a long car ride, and had that feeling of "how the heck did we get here?" 

I am still unsure of the idea of a calling. Perhaps because of it's religious context, it feels limiting to everyone at times. But I do believe we have things that we are put here to accomplish. Whether planned in advance, or found along the way. 

We all have a unique personality, strengths and weaknesses. Difference that separate us from anyone else on this planet today, before us, and after we leave this earth. There is only one of you

Because of that, we all have the ability, drive, and passion to do certain things that others may not. 

For me, it started with art. TO be honest, art was the only thing I cared enough about to pay for a college degree in. And at the time, society was telling me that I needed a college degree. 

But after years of missing something, all of a sudden, it just clicked. I felt a drive to change the way we look at life. A desire to help every person I come in contact with live a fuller, freer, more meaningful existence. 

Maybe one day I will have a word for it. That is part of all of this. Understanding how I was on of the lucky few who got to this point. 

But the reality is, we all have those moments. We all have the moments when we have a really good idea, a deep pull to do something. And it is our choice to listen to that deep desire, or let is pass us by. 

I have recently been making my way through Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. A life changing book if you have the time to read it. Here was her view on ideas: 

"I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us - albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven buy a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual" 

At first read, I thought Liz had lost it. Ideas floating around like butterflies, looking for the perfect victim to land on. Seemed a little too woo-woo crazy, even for me. 

But when I was able to think on the idea further, I began to wonder if this is why I struggle with the idea of a calling. 

A calling insinuates that we have one thing. One specific thing that we were put here to do. But I have a hard time with that. I have always been a flighty creative soul, floating from one project, one idea, to the next. So I have a hard time grasping this concept of a singular calling. 

That is why I was lost for so long. I was looking for only one thing, not realizing that there could be so many things that I could accomplish in a lifetime. 

When putting Liz's idea into perspective in this way, it was enlightening. Throughout out lifetime, we may be taken by several ideas. We may shift what we are doing - even if only slightly, like a ship captain adjusting to unexpected winds. 

We all have those moments of genius. Of clarity. Of an idea that we just know is BIG. But too often we let it go, assuming it is trivial, or impractical. Could we be missing out on our calling at that time? 

We will all have several of these moments throughout our life. So don't feel that it is ever too late to be that which you are meant to become. 

If you missed your first chance, or your second, or your tenth, the good news is that you will have many more chances. If you live to be 80 years old, that is over 29,000 days of living. That is a lot of chances to start over, being something new, pick yourself up after a failure, and to truly live you life to it's absolute fullest. 

We all may have several moments of calling throughout our lives. Our job is to quiet our fear long enough to listen. 

And above all else, JUMP. You only get to live today once. Make it count.