Job vs. Calling

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve struggled this year with trying to figure out what I want to do.  I started my own small business which has gone nowhere because I just can’t seem to find the time or energy to do what I need to do to get it off the ground.  I’ve also struggled with defining what I want that small business to look like. Right now, I think I know what I don’t want it to be which is good to define too.  I’ve struggled at work because I just don’t feel valued.  So I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts and listening to books on audible while I commute to/from work.

Recently, I ran across a podcast interview where the guest was talking about pivoting in your career and find work that you’re passionate about.  My ears perked up immediately.  She went on and said something that made total sense to be and has actually helped change my attitude about what I do everyday.  Here’s what she said..

A job is how you make your money.  It helps you pay your bills and helps you do the things you want to do.

A career is for status.  For instance, when you’re at a party one of the first things folks typically ask when meeting someone new is what do you do?  If you say CEO for XYZ then it gives you a certain level of status in the world.

A calling is what fulfills you.  It’s what brings light into your world, helps you get up every day, and makes you feel like you make a difference.

Interestingly enough, she explained that one ‘job’ doesn’t have to fit into all of those categories.  You’re lucky if  you have a job that does but that’s not really the norm.  These thoughts really helped me be ok with where I am right now in my career and aspirations.  I know that my job is allowing me to do everything else that I enjoy like travel, have a condo in the city, a home in the country, and to have a nice retirement plan in place.

My calling…well I think I’ve figured that out too and it truly lights me up and gets me excited.  When I was going through breast cancer, I was so mad that it was happening to me.  Like most young women, I didn’t know why but I wanted to know why it was happening to me.  I had done everything right and everything I was supposed to do…but it still happened.  But now I know that I can use that experience for good and help other women go through it.  I do a lot of advocacy work within the breast cancer world – I work with researchers to provide a patient aspect, I go to conferences to educate myself, I review grants, I facilitate support groups, and  I also volunteer in the breast cancer clinic where I was diagnosed.

I hate to say it but when I volunteer in the clinic, I feel the happiest.  I think it goes back to when I was in the clinic and waiting (and waiting) for what my future would hold, I was the most scared I’ve ever been in my whole life.  Now, I feel like I can try to comfort those sitting there waiting for the same answers.  My hope is I can help ease some of their fear.  I start by telling the person that I understand what they’re going through and they can ask me anything – about chemo, reconstruction, how to communicate with others, how to get support, anything.  I also mention that I’m now 7 years out to show that they can also get through this phase too.  When I run into someone my age or younger, I talk about support groups in the area that really helped me.  And sometimes, if I think it’s appropriate, I offer them my card to contact me after their appointment if they have additional questions that they think of.  Every once in a while, someone will send me an email.  But more often than not, they move on with their treatment, and that’s just fine.  I think about them from time to time and hope they’re doing well.

Another thing I want to mention is sometimes I do believe that the universe helps put us in a situation that makes us realize we were in the right place at the right time.

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to ride in Obliteride, 100-mile bike ride for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  It hadn’t rained in Seattle in 54 days but the day of the ride…feels like my luck, they were predicting rain.  I was panicking and feeling like I needed to outfit my bike with fenders so I didn’t get that mud strip up my back and could stay dry.  As a fair weather rider,  I wasn’t worried about the 100 miles, I was worried about 100 miles in the rain!  I walked to REI after work and left there thinking about my options and no fenders.  I wasn’t wearing the best of shoes and as I walked across the cross walk I sort of tripped but luckily caught myself and didn’t look too foolish.  As I kept walking, I saw a woman trip and fall in front of me and I immediately looked at her shoes and realized she too had worn the wrong shoes that day.  So many folks just walked on by her and didn’t stop.  I’m sometimes amazed how little people are phased by what happens around them. While I got closer to her, I thought I’d made sure she was ok but someone ahead me had already checked in.  She had scratched her elbow and was bleeding but otherwise ok.  I kept walking past her but as I thought about that woman and her bleeding elbow, I realized I had a Band-Aid.  So I turned around and asked if she wanted it.  She was so gracious and thanked me for stopping and offering the Band-Aid.

As we stood there, we both stared at each other and realized we knew each other.  We continued chatting to try to figure it out.   As it turns out, last year I had come into her room at SCCA as a volunteer and talked with her and her brother .  She mentioned that the impact I had made in those 5 minutes was so positive and really helped her over the last year and she had thought about me.   I immediately got chills and started to tear up a little because sometimes you just don’t get to know what kind of impact you make.  In that moment, I knew I had provided value and support to someone in need…and that feeling felt good.  The chances of us meeting again on a street that neither one of us typically walk on and just happened to run into each other felt more than just a coincidence. I was so happy to see her and that she was doing well and as we parted, we decided to meet up again.

I realized at that moment that my job is just my job and for now it’s paying the bills.  Sure, I still get frustrated but I am grateful for my current job because of the opportunities it provides beyond just the paycheck.   I also know what my calling is and for now, it’s ok that my job and my calling aren’t the same thing.  I feel good about going to bed each night knowing that I am living my mission of doing something bold every day.




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