I was reading a new book written by a friend where he goes into more depth on finding your vocation. This is something I find to be quite powerful when working with clients on career decisions.
A vocation is much deeper than a job or even career; this word conveys the sense of enduring engagement and commitment. But it’s quite OK if you’re a bit fuzzy on exactly how the word is used, because it’s really more important to understand the concept.
You might get educated in a particular field, then spend your life in a number of jobs which relate to that education or perhaps diverge off in different directions. Perhaps you can identify periods of time where you have a career, meaning that there’s some sense of similarity and progression towards an objective.
Many will think of that objective in terms of money and increase in lifestyle. No problem with that, but more and more people are finding that this isn’t necessarily the path to a life you’re proud to have lived.
This is where the concept of vocation can be useful. To determine whether you have (or want) a vocation, here are some useful questions:
- What are your natural born talents?
- Where do you want to make a difference in the world?
- What are you passionate about?
Let’s imagine that this has caused you to recognize and articulate some important decisions. There’s one other dimension you need to work on: Does anybody actually need it?
That’s crucial, because you have to figure out how you want to exercise your vocation.
Let’s imagine that I have a deep and abiding passion for carving children’s toys. If I want to make that a hobby, great, no one will stand in my way. I’ll be limited on the time and money I can put into it, but I’ll be pretty free within those constraints.
I’ll also need to go out and get another job, because it’s hard to eat when I’m making no money.
So I could look into making a job or career out of it. I can work for a toy company, or start my own business. In either case, I’m constrained by whether a sufficient number of people want to buy my product. If there’s no market, or if I’m delivering the wrong thing, or doing it in the wrong way, it just won’t be sustainable.
That’s why this central diagram, while simple, is so powerful:
If you’re interested to find out more, check out The Boomerang Approach for much more detail. Especially if you’re feeling a bit lost in your career direction.