I have had an awesome two weeks. I have travelled around Australia, speaking to some amazing people who work for an incredible global organisation about living their best life. Lots of things were discussed, from mindset to resilience to the power of routine and, like every organisation, there were people there who loved what they did to earn their income and others who needed some convincing. I asked them a question about how they considered their employment: is it a job, a career, or a calling?

If you are actively engaged in generating income for your life right now, I would like to ask you the same question. You may be asking, what does it mean and what does it matter? I am about to explain what it means, and what it matters is… everything! Let’s face it, for many decades of our lives, we can spend more than half our waking hours in an income generating pursuit, or pursuits. Do you know anyone who drags themselves out of bed and then painfully endures the day, every day, for years and years and years? I do. What a miserable existence. As I say time and time again, we only get one shot at this life and then it is over, and it’s far too short to spend doing something that has no meaning and does not bring joy. Wouldn’t you agree?

I am currently reading The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, and in it he discusses the difference between a job, a career, and a calling. They are worlds apart. There are people who work purely for money, and they endure their work simply for a paycheck. For them, it is a job. There are people who like what they do and feel their work is important. They have a career. Then, there are the far too few people who are passionate about what they do because of the meaning it has for them and the difference they feel they are making in the world. This, my friend is a calling.

The vast majority of people I spoke to over the last two weeks were mechanics and engineers who spend their time getting greasy, putting together and repairing bus and truck engines. It is gruelling work, the hours are long, the pressure to deliver is high, and the unexpected challenges that come their way are plenty. Even so, some of these people see what they do as a calling.  Sadly, however, there are also many of them who see what they do as a job. So, I discussed with them how to move the meaning of their work through the job-to-calling spectrum.

I asked them to think about what they did, and how they would describe it to someone who asked them. Those with a job, said they fix engines, and it is frustrating and tiring work. I then asked them to think about the bigger picture and the ripple effect of what they did. At a basic level they fixed engines so the bus or truck could run smoothly, but what they were really doing was enabling the transportation of people and products around the country to places where they could make a difference.

They never saw beyond the bus or the truck leaving the workshop. The reality is that the buses moved people to reconnect with loved ones, to attend inspiring workshops, to do a job that would positively impact lives, or help people make a new start in their life. The trucks moved products that would help people be healthier, make people’s life easier, enable the production of new and amazing initiatives, and keep the world moving forward in a powerfully positive way. So, really what they were doing was being a critical link in the process that positively impacted millions of lives. This is how you can take a job and turn it into a calling.

How would you describe what you do for a living? If it’s a job or a career, can you see how to start moving it towards becoming a calling? The other day, I was out exercising at 6am when the garbage collector came to empty the bins in the street. As he stopped to empty a bin, I said, good morning. Thanks for what you do, it makes a difference and certainly makes my life easier. He initially didn’t quite know how to respond, but then said, thanks. The chances are he sees what he does as a job. Just a garbo. But he is way more than that. He keeps the city clean, he helps to keep people healthy, and he makes many people’s lives easier. He is making a massive difference. Even being a garbo can be a calling.

I want to challenge you to think about what you do, and see how, whatever it is, it makes a positive difference in the lives of others, even if indirectly. The difference between having a calling and having a job is worlds apart and will positively impact every area of your life. In my podcast this week with Tor Roxburgh and Patrick Bonello called Put some tech in your step, we discuss all of the amazing technology that is helping people to live healthy and happy lives. You make a difference. Your work is meaningful. If you really stop and reflect, I know you could take your job and move it to a career and then to a calling.