Have I found my career calling yet?

career calling
The difference between a job, a career and a calling

There comes a point in life where we start getting restless in our professional lives. This can happen after looking at the professional standing of an old friend or classmate. Or due to an internal psychological churn, or an experience at the current workplace that forces you to take stock of the situation. Whatever the reason, once this line of thought begins, it increases in intensity until an answer or course of action is found. 

Whether you are here because that churn has started for you or you are someone who is on the verge of taking an important career decision.. Let’s see if there’s something we can do to help you decide how to move forward.

For a major part of my work life I have been into various corporate jobs – short term as well as long. The shortest one lasted for 3 days and the longest and final one was for 11 years, 11 months & 11 days (a coincidence just!) During these 19 or so years I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of people – peers, seniors and direct roll-ups or indirect team members. These were people at various stages of their jobs, career or calling, had different operating styles and brought varied values to the table.

Derived from the experience of working with all these different people. And, from my own work life I’ve tried to put together what I learned.

Job: This provides – money, benefits, perks. The prime motive is to earn that paycheck. This is something they do for others and work here is just but a means to an end. Emotional connect is low or nil, they are okay with status quo and are not necessarily looking to learn more or develop newer expertise (unless the very job they do is under threat).

Career: There is a certain sense of self in the work that people in this category do. While the pay check here does not necessarily lose its importance but they are people who constantly aim higher. They are self-motivated, driven and competitive. They definitely exhibit a certain passion and drive in their affairs.

Calling: These are people who have a connection between what they do and their inner self (who they really are). Satisfaction level (material return included) is usually the highest among these people. Not necessarily in terms of earnings but in terms of satisfaction. They are also extremely passionate and competitive but not in a cutthroat way.

These categories are not necessarily exclusive to each other. I have seen people move back and forth and even depict different traits in different situations. Also, this is something which is from within; one change in approach, some realization and a job could become a calling or even vice versa. Further, in real world scenarios at times one has to let go of calling and be stuck in a job. A lot of times we have to make decisions about our occupation which are not necessarily choices we want to make. However, none of these states are final, not even calling. What one feels is a calling today might cease to be tomorrow. Therefore, the next time you get restless where you are and start to wonder ‘am I really following my calling?’ ask yourself these five questions instead and you’ll know what to do:

  • What do I need right now?
  • Do I have everything I need at this stage of life and I want something more (because needs and wants are different)?
  • Can I afford to let go of what I currently have in pursuit of what I want?
  • Can I stay where I am and yet engage in a higher pursuit by better managing my time and options?
  • What is my short term goal with respect to my new wants?
  • How do I build the right skills?

Happy brainstorming!

Contributed by Udit Bothra, founder of the unique travel company WonderPath, ex-corporate slave, a motorcycle enthusiast, vagabond and a thrill-seeker. You can follow his page on Instagram at @wonderpath.travel and him @udit.bothra

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