Let's face it: the traditional career advice from previous generations just doesn't always apply in our rapidly-changing gig economy, where entire industries are in the process of redefining themselves, academic and professional standards are constantly in flux, and the future of technology is transforming the very nature of how we understand "work." While there are more opportunities than ever nowadays to start your own business and "follow your bliss," it's also becoming harder than ever to keep up with the rising costs of tuition, healthcare, housing, and living expenses.
How do we find a sense of purpose and meaning, while also making ends meet?
Living our way into a holistic and sustainable "answer" to this question entails a lot more than just an individualistic "self-help" approach, which may motivate us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps for a while, but often fails to address the social and relational complexities of our lives, or the economic and structural barriers many of us face, which require us to dig deeper in our discernment of purpose.
Job: A set of tasks that you do in exchange for money. From an old Frankish verb meaning "to strike or peck," the term originally meant "a piece of work," or a "temporary occupation." In other words, a job is work that occupies a set amount of time.
Career: Your life's work, or, the aggregate of all your jobs. From a Latin word for "chariot," pointing to advancement in a race, in the 19th century it came to mean "the course of one's public or professional life." Its modern definition implies a long-term occupation with opportunities for progress.
Profession: A paid occupation with formal training and qualifications. From the Latin professio meaning "to publicly declare," the term profession indicates a community of people who profess and uphold a set of ethical standards within a discipline or industry (i.e. law, teaching, business, etc).
Vocation: The work that you are "called" to do. From the Latin vocare, meaning "voice," a vocation implies the voice of God or the Divine. Our vocation is the work we do which aligns with our deepest sense of self. Regardless of whether we ever get paid for this work, vocation points us to our purpose.
Calling: A strong inner impulse or urge toward a particular course of action. While often used synonymously with "vocation," a "calling" is much more broad. It may encompass things that we would not normally categorize as "work." We can be called to a particular place, a sacrificial action, a certain relationship, or a way of life. We can even be "called" to undertake a course of action that we don't necessarily want to do, simply because we sense some deeper value in it.
The truth is, you don't have to be in a job you feel "called" to in order to lead a meaningful life! Also, having a successful or meaningful career doesn't automatically provide you with a sense of fulfillment or purpose. To understand the big picture of how work, livelihood, and our sense of purpose all fit together, it can be helpful first to clarify the differences between a few basic terms:
Because we live in a culture that values money, earning, profit, and success, our lives are constantly being defined by what we "do" for a living - our work, our achievements, our income, and our level of professional advancement. But it is important to realize that our vocation may not necessarily correlate with our job, career, or livelihood. In many cases, it may be preferable not to conflate one's vocation with one's professional life, since our deepest sense of purpose cannot always be monetized or expressed within a single career path that is available within an existing culture. For some people, having a job that occupies a set amount of time - where they can "clock out" at the end of the day - is an ideal situation, because it offers the stability and the security to focus on other activities and pursuits that give their life joy and meaning. For others, having a profession that aligns with their sense of purpose is an important value. For many people, these priorities shift over time.
Who we are is about so much more than what we do to pay the rent. Ultimately, vocation is about how we are uniquely called to give and receive love. It can be difficult in our cultural context to remember that we are human be-ings, not human do-ings! When we take time to pause and quietly reflect on the inherent value of life, then we can begin to find our way into deeper questions of purpose, like:
Who am I really?
When do I feel most fully alive?
What do I value most in life?
What parts of myself have I ignored or lost touch with?
How do I connect most deeply with myself and my sense of purpose?
What wisdom have I gained through my unique struggles and limitations?
How might the fullest expression of who I am be of benefit others?
What do I uniquely know that no one else knows?
My goal is to create sacred space in which you can explore questions related to your story and sense of purpose in a listening context that encourages you to value your inner wisdom and listen for the voice that is calling you to your next step, whatever that may
be. Through a series of exercises, personality and skills assessments, short readings, reflection questions, and guided meditations, I will walk you through a process of self-awareness to help you think more holistically about who you are, your unique purpose, and what you might be called to "do" in this current context of "your one wild and precious life."
Career & Vocation Support
I draw on a variety of self-awareness and assessment tools that seek to address the practical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of vocational life. In addition, I can offer the following services to help support you in your career transition:
Resume Design & Editing
Interview Skills & Preparation
Set up a free one-hour consultation
My fees vary depending on whether you are looking for longer-term vocational discernment through spiritual direction, or more practical, short-term coaching sessions to assess a possible career change or prepare for a job interview. Fill out the contact form below to set up a free, one-hour consultation so that we can assess your needs and discern how I can best support your personal and professional life.