Job, Career or Calling?

calling career meaningful work purpose Mar 05, 2019

Is work for you just a way to pay the bills? A climb up the ladder to more money, power and status? Or is it about fulfilment and making a positive difference?

Traditionally, work for most people has been mainly about two things.

The first, a means to an end to make money to live and support loved ones. There it doesn’t really matter what the job is about. What is important is that it pays. Success here is mainly about safety. Making sure you have a roof over your head. That you can eat and pay for the essentials. And if possible have enough extra money to go on vacation.

The second is a career. Here what is important is climbing the ladder to the top. The main motivation is getting the next promotion - so that you can get higher up the hierarchy. The idea is that success is all about status and power.  The focus is to have a ‘good career’.  And the holy grail is to become the boss and have a good standing in society. Then you have ‘made it’.

I don’t know how choosing your work went for you. But this is how it went for me.

I was with my grandfather. I was choosing what I wanted to study at university. This was our conversation...

Me: ’I think I want to study psychology at university, because I really want to work with people.’

My grandfather: ’You know I have worked with people for over fifty years, it’s not that great. People are difficult. What is important is to have a good career. And there are only three real careers - being a doctor (he was a doctor), a lawyer or an accountant.’

And as I didn’t like numbers, nor science, but loved people and writing... I became a lawyer.

This brings me to having a calling...

Calling is a combination of being aligned to what matters to you and having a positive impact. It is about both personal alignment and meaningful contribution. Research tells us that once you have what you need to survive - having a calling is what makes your life truly rich. It is the fastest route to fulfillment.

The thing is that that is what we focus on the least. And even if we do there is this idea that you can’t earn money from it. So it gets relegated to ‘you can have a proper career or you can save the world - which actually means earning no money and working for an NGO’.

Nobody asked me... ‘What do you really love?’... ‘What is truly in your heart’... Or ‘what difference do you want to make in this world?’

Ironically I found out later that my main driver is indeed to support people. And that studying psychology would have been perfect for me. For my grandfather I learnt that his greater calling was deep scientific exploration. He wanted to know what the universe was really made of.

So it turns out that both of us had great careers on the outside, but that we were missing our calling. I solved it by doing a career change. He bridged the gap in retirement.

Others have their day job and live their calling ‘out of hours’.

However you do it, it is important that you align to your calling...somehow...somewhere...

Calling ultimately is about contributing a piece of you on this planet. It is about truly expressing what you are made of. Touching the world with your unique presence - and leaving your mark. You need it for your own sanity - to have no regrets and to make your life truly worthwhile.

And selfishly, we need you to live it. Because you are an essential part of the jigsaw and you count. And you doing your bit is the only way that humanity will find its way.

Until next time,


Louise Le Gat is an experienced facilitator, retreat leader and executive coach, and creator of the ‘Positive Energy Leaders’ Journey. She helps leaders who are at a pivotal moment in their careers get inspired, align to their real purpose and step into their true leadership.