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Which Do You Have? A Job, a Profession, a Career, or a Passion?

A Job
A job is an exchange of work for money: for every hour you work, you get an hour of pay. Although you might derive some satisfaction from doing the job, and you might enjoy the people you work with, the reason you do the job is for the money.  If you win the lottery, the first thing you’ll do is quit your job, because, after all, you’re only doing the job for money anyway.

There’s usually very little advancement within a job. Maybe you’ll get a seniority raise if you stay in the job long enough. But for real advancement you’ll have to change jobs. You’ll have to get “promoted” from one job to another higher-paying job.

Jobs can be tedious, frustrating and dull. But most people put the job behind them at the end of the day when they go home to their family and friends. A job is something you compartmentalize — there’s the job, and then there’s your life.  The two are quite different, and often unrelated.

A Profession
For many people, a profession is a glorified job. That’s true whether you’re a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, a policeman, a fireman, or an executive. You still get paid for each hour of work you do, although that fact is often disguised by a “salary” that is paid to you every few weeks. The salary makes it possible for your employer to ask you to work more than 40 hours a week without any extra pay. Successful professional people rarely leave their work at the office at the end of the day. The work is constantly on their minds, and their personal lives may be interrupted by work issues at any time of the day or night.

There are three primary distinctions between a job and a profession. First, a profession usually requires more training, and likely an advanced degree or certification. Second, a profession has more prestige than a job. People who have a profession are more likely to be regarded as being successful. Third, a profession usually reflects a personal choice in the type of work you like to do, where a job is more associated with finding the highest-paying available position.

A Career
When people use the word “career” they are usually referring to a progression of professional positions, starting with an entry level position and then moving up to higher-level positions with more responsibility, more prestige and higher pay. A career may reflect a conscious plan for advancement, but more than likely a large part of a career is determined by accident. You’re in a certain position and another position becomes available. You jump to the new position, and your career “advances.”

People often refer to a career in hindsight rather than looking forward. I seldom hear a young person talking about a career choice (which is a shame, since people seldom achieve what they really want without a plan). You’re more likely to hear an older person at a retirement dinner talking about his or her career, with that career being viewed through the rear-view mirror. A career is often a reflection of what we did during our life, viewed from the endpoint.

A Passion
What are you passionate about? What gets you excited? What do you enjoy doing that you can do for hours without noticing any time passing? That’s your passion.  All of us have  one, but many of us ignore our passion to focus on a job, a profession or a career. Why should this be? Does it make any sense for you to work 40 hours a week at a job while somewhere in the back of your head you’re longing to go somewhere else and do what you’re passionate about?

If you look at truly successful people (defined in just about any way you like: money, power, happiness, acclaim), you’ll find that almost all of them have figured out how to turn their passion into an income. Their time is focused on doing their passion, and doing it really well. And because they live and breathe their passion, they become really, really good at it. They become the best in their field, and that’s how they achieve their success.

To these people, their work isn’t a job. It isn’t a profession (except by someone else’s definition). And it isn’t even a career. It’s just spending their time doing what they truly enjoy.

Do you have a job? A profession? A career? Or are you pursuing your passion and getting income from it?

And if you’re not pursuing your passion, then why not? What’s holding you back?  And what are you going to do to change things?

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