Let’s start with a refresher on the difference between a vocation and a career. A career is something you choose; a vocation is something you are called to. A person choosing a career asks, how can I get the best job? A person summoned by a vocation asks, how can my existing abilities be put in service for the greatest good? A career is a job you do as long as the benefits are obvious; a vocation involves falling in love with something, having a conviction about it and making it part of your personal identity. A vocation involves promises to some ideal. It reveals itself in a sense of enjoyment as you undertake its tasks and it can’t be easily quit when setbacks and humiliations occur. As others have noted, it involves a double negative—you can’t not do this thing.
But a careerist mentality often replaces the vocation mentality. The careerist mentality frequently makes people timid, driven more by fear of failure than any positive ideal. Such people are besieged by the short-term calculations and often forget about their animating vision and long-term ideal.
People with a vocation mind-set have their eyes fixed on the long game. They are willing to throw themselves toward their goals imaginatively, boldly and remorselessly. People who operate a career mind-set, on the other hand, often put self-preservation above all. Nothing gets done because everybody’s doing the same old safe rigid thing. There is an open arc to vocation. People start with something outside themselves. Then, in the scramble to get established, the ambition of self takes over. But then at some point people realize the essential falseness of all that and they try to reconnect with their original animating ideals.
It’s possible to imagine a revival of vocation. Many of us secretly detest the careerist game and the way it is played. It would be amazing bravery if we could all strip away the careerist defense mechanisms and remember our original vows and passions.
REMEMBER, IT IS THE PROCESS NOT THE GOAL.
Ron Winnegrad has been a Perfumer and teacher for 46 years. As a perfumer, Ron has been able to express the world he sees through a rainbow of olfactive and emotive visions. As a teacher, Ron has helped others to see fragrance through his own multi sensorial lens.