Life Purpose and Your Career


Life Purpose and Career

What Kind of Work is Calling You?

If you’re like most people, you’ll spend about a third of your life in an occupation, and you’ll spend most of that time working just to pay the bills.  No matter how you slice it, your work is a huge part of your life. But finding satisfying, fulfilling work can be fraught with anxiety, frustration and disappointment. You want your life purpose and your career to be one and the same.

Take a moment and evaluate your current occupation. How do you refer to it? Do you call it: work, a job, a living, employment, a profession, a career, a vocation or a calling?

This simple exercise can reveal a lot about how you feel about your occupation. It is the latter portion of this scale — career, vocation or calling — that most of us idealize, strive for, or at the very least dream about.

Even among these positive descriptions, there are important differences in meaning. The dictionary defines “career,” for instance, as a job you decide to do for a living.  It also means running at full speed, which conjures visions of a horse race, with lots of competition and striving for advancement.

The word “vocation,” on the other hand, comes from a Latin word meaning “to call,” and carries the idea of a voice summoning you for a special or unique purpose. It can be argued that a vocation is what we all naturally seek — the thing we know we were meant to do.

Who’s Doing the Calling?

In short, you are doing the calling. It’s the voice within you that might say: “This is not what I want to do with my life. I have to get out, but what can I do? How will I pay the bills?” Or it might say: “I love my job, but I hate what I do.”  In other words, the overall concept of your occupation is great, but your actual job description does not resonate with who you are inside. Either way, it’s a nagging voice that reminds you that something is just not right.

Let’s face it, spending your life in a job or career you don’t like can be a formula for unhappiness. Instead of feeling trapped and unfulfilled in a career, why not discover your calling?

A career provides an opportunity to display our tenacity and loyalty, our intellect and talent, our leadership and creativity, and much more.   It’s where we can find our own personal version of happiness.

A career is more than just doing our jobs. It’s also a way of being, of living out our passions in life.

Being and Doing

Many have experienced the dilemma of liking their job and not what they do, or liking what they do and not their job. I have known Internal Revenue Service employees, for instance, who enjoyed “doing” bookkeeping, yet were secretive about “being” an IRS employee.

From another perspective, those who’ve been recently promoted may enjoy their new status of “being” a supervisor, but loathe “doing” some parts of the job, such as firing employees.

Both the being and the doing must be satisfying in order for an individual to find happiness in his or her career. How do you know both what you like to, and like to be.

Knowing Who You Are is Key

You must know yourself if you are to bring the facets of being and doing together into one satisfying job. You must know who you truly are and what truly motivates you. That is, if you are unhappy most of the time and feel a lack of direction, it is because you don’t know who you are.

You may know what you like and dislike, but not the tethering reason why. What we like and dislike are founded upon one single motivating factor: our Life Purpose.

Life Purpose

Life Purpose is demonstrated in all of nature and recognized in Zoology and the process of classifying animals. Consistent qualities can be seen in behavior.  Dog breeders can list canines by their consistent personality and behavioral traits, and can further classify the animals based on their own individual traits.

It is like saying the initial purpose of a dog is to express what it means to be a dog in the universal sense and properly use its tools for survival. We not only recognize the visual differences between animals, but also how they move. At a distance of a few hundred yards, a standing dog may look similar to a same-sized cat, but when it begins walking its identity becomes clear. The dog’s first duty is to act out what it was designed to act out.

The second purpose is to express the sense of dog that conforms to the dog’s unique and individual environmental construct.

Our own purpose is designed in the same way: We must express our human tools for survival in a way that ensures our species’ survival while preserving our physical and mental identities. These identities are highly unique and highly designed. When our identity and our job are lined up we experience our life purpose everyday we go to work.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs


Taking the time and effort to discover your life purpose and then create a career out of it is one of the keys to long term and sustainable happiness. Insisting on having a job in this sense makes it a vocation. You only have one life to live and it truly has purpose.



About the author

CEO of Authentic Systems, Degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley.

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