It’s not unusual to dislike your job or feel like it’s time to change careers. Nearly everyone experiences these types of thoughts from time to time. What is unusual, however, is to take action on career advice and do something to actually change your situation. In this article, we’ll look at how you can go about changing your career path, not by focusing on upward mobility but by discovering your vocation.
Understanding the Difference Between an Occupation and a Vocation
If you’re looking for career advice, the chances are that you need to start by thinking about what your vocation is. There’s a big difference between the words “vocation” and “occupation;” understanding the difference is the first key to unlocking a career that suits your personality and fulfills your life’s ambitions.
“Vocation” originates from the Latin word vocare, or calling. Your calling in life is about your purpose, your reason for living. Your calling might be to help others, invent something useful, commune with nature or raise amazing children.
Your occupation, on the other hand, is what you do that occupies your time each day. Your occupation is the job that pays the bills.
People are most satisfied with their lives when their vocation, or higher purpose, matches up with their occupation, or the way they spend their time each day. While it is certainly possible to enjoy a fulfilling, meaningful life even if one’s occupation and vocation aren’t the same, strive to put your vocation and your occupation together as much as you possibly can.
Start By Articulating Your Vocation
Before trying to find a career that matches up to your calling in life, you first need to articulate clearly what that calling is. Ask yourself the questions, “What is the most meaningful thing that I could do with my life? After I’m gone, how do I wish to be remembered by my friends, family and colleagues?”
To take one example, you might decide that your calling in life is to contribute to peace in the world by protecting others from harm. Once you’ve decided that this is your vocation, consider occupations that match up both with your calling and your individual talents.
You might be interested in questions of fairness and justice, which may lead you to fulfill your calling by becoming a human rights lawyer, a child advocate or a professional mediator. You might be physically strong and enjoy an active lifestyle, which may lead you to fulfill your calling by becoming a fire fighter, police officer* or military serviceperson. Alternatively, you might enjoy talking with individuals and helping them solve their problems, which may lead you to fulfill the calling of protecting others by becoming a counselor, doctor or social worker.
Only Focus on Upward Mobility Once Occupation and Vocation Match
There’s no point in being upwardly mobile in your career if there’s a wide gulf between the higher purpose in your life and your occupation. For example, someone who cares deeply about protecting others but works as a cashier in a movie theater is probably never going to feel satisfied with his or her occupation. Therefore, there’s no point for that person to focus on working his or her way up the ladder into a managerial role.
All too often, we are given the advice that we need to “get ahead” in life, which typically means we should seek advanced positions and higher pay. However, this advice is only worthwhile if our occupation and our vocation match. If they do not, the more we “get ahead,” the more we’ll start to feel left behind. Frustration and dissatisfaction about the direction of our life will start to mount, leading us not only to depression but also poor job performance.
If you’re not sure what occupations match your vocation, get in touch with a school advisor. A school advisor, such as an admissions representative at a college or university, can help you brainstorm what types of careers would help you fulfill your life’s calling.
Conclusion: Heart First, Wallet Second
Always remember that all the money in the world is incapable of making you happy if you are not satisfied with the person you are and the way you are using your life. Being a schoolteacher may never earn you as much money as being a marketing executive, but if you feel called to work with children and teach others, the pay cut will be worth it. Alternatively, becoming a lawyer might be something that everyone has warned you is too difficult to achieve, but if you decide that fighting for people’s legal rights is what you truly care about, you can find a way to make your dream come true. In short, put your heart first when it comes to choosing a career path; put your wallet second.
*Law enforcement agencies may require additional training.