Thursday, October 15, 2009

Job vs. Career vs. Calling

I am the first to admit that I have not found my Calling.  I think everyone in this world one way or another is looking for that holy grail of "why we are here?"  A famous designer Stefan Sagmeister defined the work we do into three distinct segments.  Job, Career, and Calling.
  1. Job: done for money, 9:00 - 5:00
  2. Career: advancement and promotion
  3. Calling: intrinsically fulfilling.
My first couple positions out of college was essentially a job.  I didn't learn very much, I couldn't wait to get home and I dreaded going to work everyday.  I had the revelation that instead of chasing the money for myself to be happy I need to chase my interests.  Not having been an engineer and not likely to design cars anytime soon, I understood I needed to figure out a way to combine my interest with what I both studied as well as trained in.  The lateral leap I made was from finance to Mergers & Acquisitions for the internet space.

For the past few years I was driven by advancement and promotion.  I no longer paid attention to my hours and worked endlessly to increase both my performance as well as my learning and professional growth.  I have had some amazing bosses and mentors during this period of time -- many at the top of their industry and profession.

Right now, a "Calling" is as mysterious to me as when I had a "Job" and was trying to envision a "Career".  A Calling is a very foreign concept that I conceptually understand but do not yet know how to achieve. 

One way others have reflected and both found and achieved their Calling is through "time off".  Taking sabbaticals from their work.  Stefan describes how he closes his New York Studio 1-year every 7-years in order to explore and experience new things.  The head chef/founder of el Bulli in Barcelona take sabbaticals as well.

I believe traveling for me can and may have the same affect.  One action item I need to pursue is to spend less money on material possessions/ car related events and more traveling to parts of the world I have never seen. I have never been a big vacation individual.  I worked throughout the first 8-years of my life not taking any vacations and racking up my PTO.  The two week long vacations I have taken during this 8-year period were to Maui and Europe.  The vacations came years apart, and Maui wasn't really anything different.  Fortunately, I came out of my travels to Barcelona and Italy with a new-found understanding of the world as well as a feeling of there are so many things to learn and see -- I can only imagine what waits beyond the borders of other countries.

My own translation of this concept is that if you're doing the same thing day-in and day-out, things get stale very quickly and no new ideas or experiences will happen.  This is because there will be a very low chance one will experience anything new in the same environment.  Once in a while, a break from your job/career can translate to higher performance and more success in the long run.  But the key to taking time off is there needs to be an action plan of what you wish to experience or explore.

I have frequently experienced a "Job" and more recently experienced a "Career". Hopefully one day I will experience my "Calling" following this process.

What's your calling?

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