Job, Career or Calling

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There are people looking for greater career challenges and growth. For these individuals, it’s about achievement. There are people who want to have greater fulfillment and impact on the world through the work that they do. For these individuals, it’s about contribution. For others, their job is simply about a paycheck. What are you looking for in your work?

You might think that the main motivation for why people work is a matter of  life circumstances. We all have bills to pay. A lot of individuals would argue that the reasons for working are not that important, they are personal and as long as the person is ‘okay’ with the job, it’s all ‘fine’. However, I truly beg to differ. It’s important to pay attention to the reasons why you work, because the perspective you hold directly affects your overall career satisfaction, and possibly your paycheck too.

Regardless of the level of satisfaction that a person has with their career right now, I would be willing to bet that every single individual would desire a more meaningful and fulfilling career. If given a choice, I think most people would want to be in a job that would make them happier. This is true, even if they do not actively seek it. However, many people remain feel trapped in jobs that they do not enjoy. These people stay in a demoralizing work environment, stuck in endless rows of cubicles, feeling underchallenged, bored, stagnant and completely uninterested with their day. There is no point to work, beyond the paycheck. Unfortunately, many people stay in these jobs because they never choose with intention to have a more conscious, open and aware perspective of the many other important reasons to work, beyond pay.

Your Work Perspectives Matter

The way a person views his or her work, either positively or negatively, is not just about the job itself. Perspectives about work are about the individual, as each and every person can experience and see an identical job in very different ways. It’s important to realize that your own individual perspectives lead you to seeing your work in either a positive or negative light. You must begin to understand your own individual perspective, because it can help you to experience your work with greater joy and fulfillment. Research has supported that people can view their work in one of three ways: job, career or calling.

Researchers in the field draw some major distinctions between these 3 categories. People who see their work as a job, are usually only interested in material benefits such as salary and perks. They do not seek to gain or receive any other type of reward from it. They see work as a means to allow them to acquire resources to enjoy their time away from the job. On the other hand, there are people who have a deeper investment in their work, and value more than just monetary gain. They may value higher social standing and empowerment. These individuals value achievement, seeing their work as a career. In the third perspective, there are people who find their work inseparable from their life. They feel that their work is a calling. People in this category are looking for fulfilment from their work. Some people assume that the word calling as one that is religious or spiritual. However, this term is more related to work that is socially valuable or beneficial.

Studies have demonstrated that the perspective you have with your work, leads to very different outcomes. Research has confirmed that out of all the categories, in general, callings are associated with greater life, health and job satisfaction. Evidence confirms that people who reported having a calling as having higher life and job satisfaction than people who noted their work as a career or job. One study also found that people who reported having a calling had higher income, as well. These findings contradict the idea that the reasons for having work are unimportant and is simply a matter of individual preference. The perspective you have of your work directly impacts how satisfied you will be, and it’s very important that you evaluate how you view your work. Try the following to gain a deeper understanding:

1. Intentionally Change the Perspective of Why You Work.

It’s easy to stay in a job, believing that it’s mainly about the money and security. I don’t claim this to be untrue. However, you should ask yourself, “How do other people find jobs that are more deeply satisfying and meaningful, while still being able to pay their bills?” If they can achieve greater career fulfilment, why can’t you? I would argue that it is your career intention that is different. There is a saying that goes, “Seek and you shall find”. If your intention in your work is only about money and security then that is what your job will turn out to be. However, if you broaden your job perspectives to include other important reasons to work, you will start to look for them. Change your perspective to seek greater job satisfaction and joy, and you will keep pursuing this goal. Eventually, you will find these vital career qualities. Reevaluate and explore all of your job choices, question your intentions.

2. Seek, Don’t Wait

Many people stay in a job as opposed to seeking a calling because they simply wait. I understand that this is intuitively obvious, but it’s amazing how many people will remain in a job, never even beginning to look at other possibilities around them. Many people wait, hoping that the piano of motivation and inspiration will magically fall on their head. Unfortunately, attaining a very fortunate and successful goal rarely happens without energy and effort. When you think of getting to the top of a mountain, how do you get there? If you intend to get to the top, you cannot wait around for inspiration and motivation, or a magical wind to blow you there. To get to the top, you must consciously decide to climb it. Getting to a particular goal requires the same energy and effort, and so does achieving a more satisfying career. To attain highly rewarding work you must seek it out, as it will not fall into your lap by accident or coincidence. Make constant career exploration, networking and searching a top priority of your career management habits. Continue to seek until you attain the level of joy and fulfilment that you want in your career.

3. Examine Your Values

You career values can be defined as your personal principles that assist you is defining your ideal professional environment. These values can help you identify your most ideal work settings and important role activities, and they frame what is truly important to you when you work. They are also a source of stimulation and enthusiasm for work.

It’s very common for people to continually grind it out at work, using up high levels of motivation and energy to be productive in jobs that are misaligned with their values. Unfortunately, this misalignment becomes a sore point, and they lack what is needed to make a job enjoyable. These unmet needs also become obstacles to productivity. Therefore, finding a role that meets your needs and aligns with your values is key. When this happens then you can better to focus your energy on mastering your job activities that you enjoy and also grow your skills.

Identifying what matters most to you such as your specific type of work environment, job activities, professional development, management styles, social connections, and work-life balance will help you find the exact role that enhances your professional satisfaction and joy.

4. Extrinsic versus Intrinsic

We all need to work for a paycheck, this is a given. However, there are other factors that are as important to having a fulfilling career, and how you are motivated is an essential part of this satisfaction. Psychologists have examined the different ways of thinking about motivation. They view motivation in one of two ways, either a person is motivated extrinsically or intrinsically. Extrinsic motivation is when a person is motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity because of a reward or punishment. The motivation is generated from an external condition, outside the person. Intrinsic motivation is when you perform an activity because you find it rewarding on its own. You are generating motivation from within, internally. As a result, you are performing an activity for its own sake rather than from the desire for some external reward.

When you are searching for a job, it’s important to focus on the internal rewards, just as much as external ones. It’s important when evaluating a position to ask questions related to achievement, creativity, autonomy, challenge and personal development. Finding out what specifically motivates you, so that you can thrive and attain a satisfying career is an important as salary and benefits. Understanding how you are motivated will deepen your self-knowledge about where you are most productive, identify areas where you can accelerate learning, and find activities that are the most rewarding and satisfying.  

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