Are you working a Job, Career or Vocation?

Many of us are taught from a young age that we should go through the standard path for our schooling and careers. The message is to get good grades in high school so that you can go to a good college and use that degree to enter the workforce and work for a reputable company. Few realize in our lifetimes that there is something greater than the traditional route of a job or career. 

What are the three types of work we go through:


A job is something we do to pay the bills and survive. Most people don't particularly enjoy a job, but understand that we need to make a living. A job is usually shorter term and if you stop working a job usually you go into another job that may or may not be in the same industry. An example can be a barista at a cafe or cashier. 


A career is an industry an individual has chosen for a longer period of time. Once an individual moves on from one company in their chosen career, they can utilize the experience to move on into another company in the same career path. For some a career can be very fulfilling and stable. For others they feel stuck and it is difficult to pivot into another career path because they will need to start at an entry level position in a different career.  Examples of a career are high tech sales, project management, or finance.  

Vocation or Calling

A vocation is a greater purpose to do work you feel you were put on this earth to do. Being able to align your passions, skills, talents with work that makes you feel alive. Vocation is the hardest to move towards because it may not fit into a box of a certain career. However, if one is able to find their calling that work is the most meaningful. 

I see many people in society that are in a job or career that is unfulfilling and only a minuscule percentage are living in their vocation. One test to see if you are in a career that is unfulfilling is to go on vacation or look at your weekends. If a couple of days before the vacation is over or on Sunday afternoon you are deeply dreading that first day back to work,  you a probably in a career that is sucking the life from you. 

Here are a couple of solutions for those feeling stuck in their job or career.

The first solution is if you feel that you will never pursue your calling  then it will come down to your attitude at your current job or career. Things like practicing daily gratitude in your job, having hobbies outside of work, working out, going to therapy, working with a coach or a religious or spiritual practice may help with the attitude in the job that is not quite meaningful. 

For those that have tried to become more grateful in their career, and have tried to shift your attitude and there is still that nagging inside to pursue a greater purpose in your career trajectory, here are some tips to explore that deeper calling:

1) Read

There are tons of books out there that are dedicated to helping you find your calling or a career that is fulfilling. Also don't just read the book, but do the exercises and apply what you have learned into taking action. Here is a list of some of my favorite books to find your calling:

48 Days to the Work you Love by Dan Miller

Finding your Own North Star: Claiming the Life you were meant to Live by Martha Beck

The Pathfinder by Nicholas Lore


2) Informational Interviews

If there is a somebody doing work that you can see yourself stepping into reach out to that person and ask to set up a coffee meeting or meal together. You can ask questions about what the work entails and how that person was able to move into that career. Reach out to more than one person because some may not be available for an interview and different perspectives are a good thing. Don't be discouraged if people are not available, just ask other people.


3) Understand your values

Finding your values will give you many clues into the type of work you want to do. If your value is independence you probably don't want to choose a career that requires a 70 hour work week in a cubicle. If you want support in finding your values you may book a free 30 minute consultation with me here. As a trained certified professional coach, I have resources and tools to be able to help discover your values and find work you love. 


4) Time Block

While you are working your current career and want to move towards your vocation, it is important to make intentional time. An effective strategy is to time block a set time each week to dedicate solely to finding your vocation. During that time you may read, set up and meet with people in your desired industry. I cannot stress the importance of making time each week if you are serious about finding your calling and taking action towards it. 


It is possible to find and move towards your vocation. If you think it is not possible take a look at people around you that do love their job. If they can do it what makes you think you cannot obtain that kind of career satisfaction. Before going into the thoughts of it not being possible because of bills, family, children, or circumstances how about shifting your mindset into possibility and taking little bits of action towards it. We only live one life and spend most of our time at work so why not make it meaningful.