Have you ever noticed that when you talk about your professional life to others, you talk about your “job”, “how’s your job going?”, “are you looking for a job?”. I was talking to someone the other day during which she lamented that too many young people are using their college education to prepare for a job as opposed to understanding themselves and the world so they can find a profession that is really right for them. I thought that was a keen observation.
Jobs pay the bill. They make surviving possible. They feel more like an obligation to fulfill. “Someone’s gotta make the donuts”. Are you living that life? How does it feel to live this experience, waking up everyday feeling burdened by a heaviness, an inevitable dread? Now, not everyone has the luxury of choice. There are people who must do with what they have. I respect them to the utmost. But if you have choice (and if you’re college educated, you have choice), why would you choose to live in dreaded obligation?
We all have the choice to practice our vocation, which is work we do that reflects an inner calling. Call it our true gift, our song, our passion. Yes we have obligation in our vocation – to do a good job, to achieve outcomes, to live up to our commitments. But if we have a vocation, our work is propelled by an inner pulsating energy that seems to drive us forward effortlessly. We glide. We dance. We are in excitement, creativity and joy.
I was just reading an article about the actress Lisa Kudrow who was going to do work as a medical researcher, in part because that is the work of her father’s. But out of nowhere, she started to notice sit-coms and how the actors acted. On an impulse, when she was almost 30, she took up improvisation and started to act. The road didn’t lead to automatic success and there were real skeptics, but it was clear that she kept on “following her calling”, taking little steps that seemed inconsequential, even against the advice of others, but which eventually landed her on the sitcom Friends. Imagine if she decided to just have a job, rather than practicing her vocation? On the outside, she may seem like she’s doing fine. Yet inside, it’s clear that her life would feel a sense of emptiness that no status, pay or fine living could fill.
Vocation is found by listening…to yourself. By seeing what moves you. By following a path you know is right without knowing the outcome. The calling is always there. The choice is to awaken to the mystery that will truly nourish you.