Choosing a career isn’t easy – though some people make it seem that way. You know the type: they say they love their work, and that their work does good for the world, and that they’re good at it. But how many of us can really say that our career is a calling? It’s easy to see the good that great doctors or charity works do in the world, but can we all really align our passions and talent to do good through our careers?
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What draws us to our work?
First, it’s worth looking at what draws us to certain types of work.
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Well, there’s the money, obviously. That’s why people head to jobs they hate, day after day: they need to pay the bills, or maybe they’re already paying the bills, and they want to grow rich. Fair enough!
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But there’s also the passion, the joy you get from doing good work. You probably have a hobby that brings this out in you.
And then there’s helping people, which we all wish we could say about our work. But can we?
Your career and helping people
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One good way of looking at your career as a calling is to examine that last factor – helping people – and see how it interacts with the other two. After all, it feels good to help people, so it’s an easy thing to get passionate about. And people usually only want to give you money if they think that they’re getting something in return, so we can assume that with the exception of scams, crimes, and other shady things, most money-making enterprises help people in some ways.
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With this sort of attitude, we can see the ways in which just about any type of job can fulfill all three of our criteria. All it really has to do is fulfill the last one in a way that we can really believe in!
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Every service provided by every professional helps someone, and they each set off a chain reaction that helps people down the line. Cannabis lawyers in Los Angeles help medical marijuana dispensaries get on their feet, so they clearly help those business owners – but they also help the patients themselves, in a way. Garbagemen help make garbage disposal easy for homeowners, so they clearly help homeowners that use their services – but they also make it easier to recycle, which helps all of us!
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You can work backwards from an existing career to find a calling, but you can also work forwards from a hobby. If you love speaking to people about their problems, then you might want to consider a career as a psychologist. You’ll need a degree from an accredited institution (such as this San Diego psychology program) in order to monetize your passion.
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Of course, this idea of monetizing a passion is how many of us think of careers as callings. We then conclude that our passion can’t be monetized, because we love model trains or video games or something else that we can’t make money at. Putting aside that all of these industries can and do make money, we also need to remember that we can work the other way, finding passion without existing careers.
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This is the biggest myth of careers as callings: that we each are born knowing what our calling is. The fact is that many of us find our passions late in our careers, in unexpected places while working jobs that don’t have the obvious passion-appeal of, say, founding a charity. But these careers aren’t any less of a calling just because we took a while to figure them out. When you someday realize that you enjoy your job, it’s easy enough to see that you’re also helping people, and voila – you’ve found your calling.