From time to time, when I’m coaching someone about their career development, they’ll wonder what’s next for them in terms of a position. It’s a fair enough question, and one that needs to be explored as part of your development plan. It’s also a little sad to me how much emphasis people place on position within their organization.
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Bill Barnett, entitled “Make Your Job More Meaningful”, describes three very distinct attitudes about work; jobs, careers, and callings. According to Barnett, if you can identify your own attitudes and perspectives, you will have a better chance of achieving what you want from your professional life.
People who look at their work as a job are typically working because the money provides for the basic necessities and affords them a lifestyle they can be comfortable with. They don’t necessarily take much satisfaction or meaning from the work. They show up and get it done.
Once you move past the job category, a career is the next stop. In addition to money, people who report having a career, also feel like the work they are doing is visible and important to their organization, and they feel there is sufficient complexity to the work they are doing so that they don’t feel bored or get burned out performing the tasks.
Finally, there is a calling. People who have a calling talk about purpose and meaning to their work. These are the individuals who claim that they would do the work they were doing, even if they didn’t get paid for it. And, you would believe them. With a calling comes a sense of pride in everything you do. Good enough, is not in your vocabulary. Things can always be done right and there’s time to do them right.
So ask yourself this question. Where are you today? You don’t have to share, just give it some thought. Once you can identify your current state, it’s much easier to start to determine what it would take to make the move from job to career, or from career to calling.