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The Difference Between Your Career and Your Calling

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

You’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do. We’ve all heard it before, but how effectively have we applied this to our lives?

If you’re like most people, your life’s purpose, and what you do for a living are two completely different things. There’s nothing wrong with that separation, but if you want to live a life that you can fully enjoy, it’s important to look for ways to bridge the gap.

I spent many years after graduation trying to find a job that I could even tolerate, let alone enjoy. Which of course made my transition out of football even more difficult than it already was. This is not to say that my time spent in these roles was a waste of time. It’s actually quite the opposite.

I brought value to several different organizations, helped a lot of people, and gained a ton of experience that I still carry with me to this day. There were many bright spots during my time in these roles, but ultimately I knew they weren’t aligned with the type of impact I wanted to make in the long run.

Some people are fortunate enough to find their calling at a young age. For the vast majority of us, we find ourselves “ending up” places more often than choosing them. That includes our careers, our relationships, and even the way we utilize our free time.

One of the patterns I've noticed when working with former athletes is that we tend to put everything we've got into our jobs the same way we did in our sport. This approach often gives us an initial burst of success, but can eventually lead to burnout if we find ourselves in the wrong career down the road.

I used to think finding your calling was something that happened by accident. I thought one day I would wake up and hear a voice telling me, “Taj, your purpose is to be an elephant tamer in the circus” or some other strange profession. I’ve come to realize that a calling isn’t necessarily something that hits you out of the blue. In most cases, a calling is developed with time and experience.

I’ve always been good at helping people uncover the things that inspire them the most. It took me years to realize that helping people find their calling, was my calling. I really enjoy making an impact on others and watching peoples’ faces light up when they discover a new business they want to build, or a career path they’re excited to start.

When you’re truly inspired by the work you’re doing, most days you don’t even need an alarm clock to get you out of bed in the morning. Deep down, I think this is the kind of life we all want. Not just a successful life, but a life of significance and fulfillment.

So how do you start the process of developing your calling? You start by developing yourself, every single day. You build up your skill set. You build up your mindset. You find the intersection between making a valuable contribution to others, and doing things you love to do. Things that you would do for free.

If you find yourself having trouble identifying that intersection between making a contribution and doing what you love, try enlisting the people in your life to help you out.

Think of at least 5 people who know you better than anyone else. These people could be your parents, spouses/significant others, friends, or coworkers. Ask if you can “interview” them for a project you’re working on (the project is you). Then ask the following questions:

1. What are my strengths?

2. What are my weaknesses?

3. What excites me? What do I enjoy most?

4. How do you envision me making a contribution to the world?

Getting feedback from the people who know you best is a great way to discover things about yourself that you may be overlooking.

Having this new insight empowers you to go out into the world and start creating a life that you love. Don’t be afraid to fail! Just like in sports there will be many times when you’ll get knocked down, all that matters is that you keep getting back up again. Here’s to your future!

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