What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s been first and foremost on and in my mind lately. I finished reading her book “Big Magic” and fell in love with her all over again. Moments later, she, yet again, put beautiful words to my thoughts with her post about hobby, job, career, or vocation. You can read her entire post here.

As an Accidental Lawyer turned Career Transition/Success Coach, I support women with this very issue. In fact, it is this very issue that led me to want to coach others. Ms. Gilbert states, “For anyone out there who is seeking purpose and meaning and direction in their lives, I thought it might be useful today to define and differentiate four very important words that relate to HOW WE SPEND OUR TIME IN LIFE.”

Let’s take some time to really figure out how we spend our time in our life. Most of us don’t really stop to think about this, and why would we? Our days are FULL of errands, tasks, quick coffee breaks, lists, pick-ups, drop-offs, meal preparation, and on and on. It’s rare to find a quiet moment to breathe, let alone analyze how we spend our time in life.

I concur with Ms. Gilbert, however, that making the time to figure out how and where we spend our energy and our time in life will bring with it some incredible awareness of how we can change things to feel more fulfilled and on purpose. I will excerpt for you the basic definitions of these four words; while used interchangeably at times, as Ms. Gilbert points out, they do not mean the same thing.

1) HOBBY — A hobby is something that you do for pleasure, relaxation, distraction, or mild curiosity. A hobby is something that you do in your spare time. Hobbies can come and go in life — you might try out a hobby for a while, and then move on to something new. [ . . . ] The stakes are SUPER low with hobbies. Sometimes you might make a bit of money out of your hobby, but that’s not the point — nor does it need to be.

2) JOB — You may not need a hobby, but you do absolutely need a job. Unless you have a trust fund, or just won the lottery, or somebody is completely supporting you financially…you need a job. [ . . .]  I believe there is great dignity and honor to be found in having a job. A job is how you look after yourself in the world. I always had a job, or several jobs, back when I was an unpublished, aspiring writer. Even after I’d already published three books, I still kept a regular job, because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the responsibility of paying for my life. [ . . . ] Now, here’s the most essential thing to understand about a job: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AWESOME. You don’t need to love your job; you just need to have a job and do it with respect. [ . . . ] Of course, if you absolutely hate your job, by all means look for another one, but try to be philosophical about why you have this job right now. (Some good philosophical reasons for staying in a crappy job right now include: You are taking care of yourself; you are supporting your beloved family; you are saving up for something important; you are paying off debts. The list of reasons to have a job — even a bad job — goes on and on, and honor abides within all those reasons.)

3) CAREER — A career is different from a job. A job is just a task that you do for money, but a career is something that you build over the years with energy, passion, and commitment. You don’t need to love your job, but I hope to heaven that you love your career — or else you’re in the wrong career, and it would be better for you to quit that career and just go find yourself a job, or a different career. [ . . . ] Let me make something very clear about careers: A career is a good thing to have if you really want one, but YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE A CAREER. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going through your entire life having jobs, and enjoying your hobbies, and pursuing your vocation, but never having “a career”. A career is not for everyone.

4) VOCATION — The word “vocation” comes to us from the Latin verb “vocare” — meaning “to call”. Your vocation is your calling. Your vocation is a summons that comes directly from the universe, and is communicated through the yearnings of your soul. While your career is about a relationship between you and the world; your vocation is about the relationship between you and God. Vocation is a private vow. Your career is dependent upon other people, but your vocation belongs only to you.

Excerpts taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s post, found here.


I’ve tried to make hobbies into careers, and careers into jobs, and vocations into hobbies. It wasn’t until I sat down and made sense out of the way I spend my time, aided by these definitions, that I brought some clarity into my life.

I invite you to take these definitions, a cup of tea or coffee (or wine, whatever floats your boat), and a good hour or two of quiet time. Spend some time writing out how you spend your time. Decide if those activities are a hobby, job, career, or vocation. Decide if activities can be rearranged under a different category to bring you more joy and fulfillment. For example, once I moved “attorney” from the career category to the job category, I lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. I then moved “coach” from the hobby category to the “vocation” category. Joy began filling my heart. Much like Ms. Gilbert, I know that even if my vocation doesn’t always pay the bills, it will always bring me immense joy and fulfillment. And that is how I am choosing to fill my time in life.

How will you spend yours?

Hobby Job Career or Vocation