Let's face it: the traditional career advice of previous generations 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 and purpose. Regardless of whether we ever get paid for this work, our vocation points us to our sense of 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, in that it may encompass actions that we would not normally categorize as "work." We may be called to a particular place, to a way of life, to a sacrificial action, or to a particular relationship. We may even feel called to a course of action that we don't necessarily like, or that is difficult or uncomfortable for us in some way, sensing some deeper purpose 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 won't automatically provide you with a sense of fulfillment or purpose. To understand the big picture of how our work, our livelihood, and our sense of purpose fit together, it helps to first understand the difference between a few basic terms:
Because we live in a culture that values money, earning, profit, and success above all else, our lives are constantly defined by what we "do" for a living - our work, our achievements, 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 certain cases, it may even 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 the 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, these priorities will naturally change 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 the time to pause, and quietly reflect on the inherent value of life, then we 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 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 it 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 the context of "your one wild and precious life."
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.
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. I can offer the following services to support you in your career transition or vocational discernment:
Resume Design & Editing
Interview Skills & Preparation