Did you know that many people use the words, job, career, and vocation synonymously? Are you one of them? These words are actually very distinct with distinct definitions.
The Dictionary says of these:
Job – A paid position, responsibility, or piece of work.
Career – Time spent in an occupation for a significant period of one’s life.
Vocation – A strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or a person’s main occupation.
When thinking about your work, how do you see yourself positioned? Many newbies to the workforce see themselves in particular jobs for the money. Yet studies have shown that after 5 to 10 years, money is not the prime motivator many thought it was. Many lack passion in what they do, but it pays the bills so they stick it out in an environment they dread returning to each Monday morning. Today, employees are asking themselves if they are truly making a difference with their lives in regard to work. After all, in the western world, work is such a big part of one’s life, you cannot help but wonder if there is any lasting impact. “Is this all there is?” many are asking.
So, how about you? Are you in a job, a career, or a vocation?
Dan Miller offers the following definitions as you think about your life and its purpose as related to work. Read on.
Job – A job is the most specific and immediate of the three terms. It has to do with one’s daily activities that produce income. The average job is 3.2 years in length, meaning the average person will have 14 to 16 different jobs in his/her working lifetime. Jobs will come and go….
Career – Career comes originally from the Latin word for “cart” and later from the Middle French word for “racetrack.” In other words, you can go real fast for a long time but never get anywhere. That is why in today’s work environment, even physicians, attorneys, CPAs, and engineers may choose to get off the expected track and choose another career. You can have different careers at different points in your life.
Vocation – Vocation is the most profound of the three, incorporating calling, purpose, mission, and destiny. This is the big picture many people never identify for themselves. It’s what you’re doing in life that makes a difference and builds meaning for you, which you can review in your later years to see the impact you’ve made on the world. Stephen Covey says that we all want “to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy.” Our vocation will leave a legacy. The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call.” It suggests that you are listening for something that is calling out to you. Everyone has a vocation or calling. (48 Days To The Work You Love, pages 38-40)
Anyone can do a job. The question is, have you been listening for your vocation? Are you fulfilling a purpose beyond the weekly grind? Are you proud and excited about the legacy you are leaving?
These are not easy questions to answer. They will take some introspection but in the end you will find the time you took was worthwhile. You will approach work with exuberance.
You will have fun.
You will find yourself content.
Contentment is not a word used much anymore. Yet, isn’t that something we all want at the end of the day – contentment?
Go. Pursue your vocation and at the end of your life you will find contentment!