What Defines You, a Job or a Career?

When I was a younger man, my goals, outside of doing the best that I could to provide for my family, was to work my butt off to move up that corporate latter, snag that corner office, have a six-figure income with a magnificent “Golden Parachute” and become a force to be reckoned with in the business world

Now that I am older and, depending on who you ask, wiser, my whole attitude of achieving everything described in the above-mentioned paragraph (outside of doing the best to provide for my family) is “Meh”.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe wholeheartedly in working hard for my employer. Doing the very best that I can so that earn what I am paid. But the whole concept of “moving up the latter” so to speak has lost its luster to me. Is it because I am older and I don’t see the point of accumulating a massive amount of debt just to go back to school to obtain a degree that may, or may not help me promote in the limited time that in my working life?

See, you have to remember, I am in the 50 plus club. I am more of the tail end on my so-called “Professional Work Life”. So I keep asking myself, “What’s the point?” Now if you are also in the 50 plus club and you do decide to go back to school, trust me, I support you. I think it’s awesome that you are doing something to either better yourself professionally or even personally. I am a firm believer in education and what it can do for a person’s life and I wish you nothing but the best. But as for me, I just don’t see myself doing that for my job.

Now for my career that is a different story altogether.

Because one day I was having a conversation with my best friend and we were having a discussion on jobs and careers and we got on the topic of “Can you have a career that is different than your job and if so, what do you tell people you do?” This conversation really made me really sit down and think about who and what I am.

If you were to look at my resume, you would see that I’ve had a lot of what people would call important and interesting jobs. But to be honest with you, there is really not a single one of them would I consider my career, nor would I identify myself with any of them as to what I do or even who I am.

What I’ve come to discover is that a job just pays you for your time to perform certain tasks or functions somebody else deemed important enough to be completed. But a career is something YOU feel passionate about. And here is something that I believe is totally foreign to conventional thinking: You don’t have to get paid at something to have a career. 

All you need to have a career is a passion to do what you love.

See, I’m a writer. That is who I am. That is my career. This is what I tell people I am because it is who I know I am and what I do. Yes, I have a job that I get paid to do for an employer, but that’s all it is, a job. But when people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. Because nothing in my so-called “Professional Life” has meant as much to me as what I am doing at this particular moment. Putting words down on paper/screen/blog/whatever that people will read, think about, hate or love.

See, we shouldn’t let society define what we call our Career/Lifework. For Example, how many times when somebody as a mom what she does and she responds with “I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom.” That the other person responds with “No, I meant what do you do for a Career?”

Huh Hello!? Being a Stay-At-Home Mom IS a career! Who was the genius that came up with the concept that in order to have a career you have to get paid for it? That is one of the most moronic thoughts/concepts forced upon society I’ve ever heard. Stay-At-Home Moms never are paid what they are worth for what they do, yet they do it just the same. And do you know why? Because they have a passion for it. They love their children and their families and to them, they could not see themselves doing anything else. Now, maybe in the future, she may want to enter the so-called “workforce” and get a job, but if you really think about it, being a Mom is a career.

Now if your job is also your career then that is fantastic. I am very happy for you and wish you all the success in the world. But for the rest of us, if our career isn’t paying the bills and we have to get a job, there is nothing wrong with identifying yourself by your career instead of your job. Promote who you are and have some fun doing it too. Go ahead and have business cards made up that say your name on it, your career with your phone number and an email address or website promoting yourself in your career.

The point is that life is too short to be defined by what you have to do instead of what you are. So tell people, and be proud of it too, what your Career is: Writer, Stay-At-Home Mom, Juggler, Gardner, Circus Clown, whatever. But just don’t tell them what you are, do it as well. You may never get that corner office with the six-figure income and that “Golden Parachute” while being a force to be reckoned with in the business world you thought that was so important when you were younger, but you will have gained/earned something a lot more important.

And what is that?

Well, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. But you will never know until you start identifying, being, acting and working on who and what you really are.

I know return you to your regularly scheduled life…already in progress.

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