Working for a living is a fact of life. Money is exchanged for goods and services; that’s how our economy works. The age-old concept of supply and demand creates jobs, which provides people with money to buy the necessities, which puts money back into the economy… It’s a never-ending cycle.
But while we all have to work for a living, not everybody has a career. Some people have jobs and haven’t chosen or found their career yet. Some say that a job is what you do, and a career is what you are, but that’s not entirely true. We, as people, are more than what we do for a living, so how do you tell whether or not you have a job or a career?
A big first indicator is how good you feel about what you do. Are you excited to tell people about what you do for a living? Or embarrassed? Do you look forward to that part of an introduction, that inevitable question, “What do you do for a living?” Or do you dread having to tell people how you pay your bills?
Do you enjoy going to work? Do you enjoy the time you spend with your co-workers? You don’t necessarily have to get giddy and bounce up and down with glee at the thought, but when you wake up in the morning do you think, “I have to go to work?” Or, “I get to go to work?”
3. Would you do it for free?
There’s merit to the age-old question “If money weren’t an issue, what would you do for the rest of your life?” Despite being the staple of high school guidance counselors, a lot can be gleaned from this idea if you just tweak it a little. Think about your current job and ponder whether or not you’d do it in your free time. Would you do it as a volunteer, or for-hire/freelance? Ask yourself, do you do it because you have to? Or because you want to?
4. How long do you want to be doing it?
There are people who can easily picture themselves in the same place, doing the same job, for the rest of their lives. Conversely, there are people who can’t wait for the weekend simply because it means they won’t have to come in to the office (or store, or restaurant, or whatever). Which one are you? Picture what you’ll look like in ten years, and place that image at your current workplace…do you like what you see? Or does it terrify you?
So if you ever find yourself pondering whether or not you have a “career” or just a “job,” give yourself that moment to think about what you do for a living, and how you feel about it. There are a lot of people in the world right now who go to work, enjoy what they do, make a decent living at it, and have no desire to change or do anything else—people who have careers and don’t even know it. If you’re one of them, stop worrying. If not, consider making a switch into something that fits the bill. You’ll be happier and more satisfied for it.