Jobs, Careers, and Callings



“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”  — Émile Zol

One theory of work is that people tend to see themselves in jobs, careers, or callings.

Depending on how you view what you do, this impacts how you show up, how engaged you are, how meaningful your work is, and your intrinsic rewards.

What if, instead of a job, you are living your mission?  Or pursuing your calling?  That’s a very different mindset than showing up for a paycheck. And there are lots of ways to transform jobs into careers and careers into callings.

But it all starts with you, your story, your strategies and your mindset.

I was reading “A World Without Work”, by Derek Thompson, in The Atlantic, where Thompson talks about the theory of work about jobs, careers, and callings.


If you see yourself in a job, chances are you are focused on just making a living and paying the bills.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:
”Individuals who say their work is ‘just a job’ emphasize that they are working for money rather than aligning with any higher purpose.”


If you see yourself in a career, chances are you are focused on achievement or status, and making progress in your field, and moving up the ladder.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:

“Those with pure careerist ambitions are focused not only on income but also on the status that comes with promotions and the growing renown of their peers.”


If you see yourself in calling, chances are you focus on fulfillment.  You treat your work as a chance for self-expression and a way to give your best where you have your best to give.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:

“But one pursues a calling not only for pay or status, but also for the intrinsic fulfillment of the work itself.”

10 Ways to Transform Your Job

I’ve had many odd jobs throughout my life and played many drastically different roles.  Along the way, I’ve always focused on working myself out of the job and transforming the job into something so much more along the way.

I’ve also treated each job as the ultimate dojo for personal growth.  If you treat work as a chance, not a chore, it’s amazing how many opportunities even the most seemingly trivial job can open up.

Here are some of the ways that I’ve found especially helpful for transforming jobs into so much more:

  1. Treat work as a the ultimate form of self-expression.
  2. Use each job as a chance to improve skills to become better, faster, and deeper.
  3. Use each job as a chance to learn new skills and stretch in new ways.
  4. Use each job as a chance to grow your network.
  5. Use each job as a chance to learn new ways to improve collaboration.
  6. Use each job as a chance to learn new ways to deal with conflict.
  7. Use each job as a chance to practice a job well done.
  8. Use each job as a chance to learn new self-motivation techniques.
  9. Use each job to find ways to spend more time in my values.
  10. Use each job to create new adventures and make more moments that matter.

Have you answered your calling?

Ring, ring.

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  1. JD,
    This posts makes me think of the work of Erik Erickson, the developmental psychologist who posited stages of child development. One of things he noticed is that work of a healthy adult would mirror the play of a healthy child. I know you love quotes. Here’s one from Erikson. “The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love and play.”

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