Today we are linguists. We will define and illustrate four words that are used – somewhat interchangeably – when it comes to professional development. This knowledge can help us clarify our current situation and future intentions, can reveal new opportunities and give us a few permissions.


how to recognize whether you have a job, a career, or vocation? The safest test – if your work place gives you nothing more than a monthly paycheck, it’s a job. If you don’t engage some of your creative energy at the workplace, if you are not enthusiastic about the process or at least about the result, if you don’t have friends at work, most probably you are in a job situation. And your talents, inspiration and creative flows, you use for hobbies, personal projects or are not aware of their existence.

A job is quite often an instrument in achieving a career objective or a professional dream – you work to support yourself through university, you work to pay for drawing classes, you work to put something on the table while writing your first novel.

Another option would be you have a job that makes you unhappy and unsatisfied. You are in a place where you don’t give much thought to the difference between job and career and you crave change but can’t really define it. For these job cases, you need a career consultant who will help you analyze the situation and make some important decisions about your professional future.


A career, on the other hand, is a professional relationship in which you are a conscious participant. You like what you do, have a career goal and a plan to achieve it. You use your talents and strengths and – for the most part – you feel satisfied and successful. You enjoy going to work, have a nurturing professional environment and get along with your colleagues and your manager.

Of course, it’s quite possible and even expected that, during the course of your career, you will work for different types of companies, on different positions and with different teams and you will feel better at some and not so good at others. You will doubt your career choices at times and you may even wonder whether you’ve chosen wrong. Sometimes you will realize that it’s time for a career shift. And that’s ok – you grow, you change, you learn and develop skills and acquire self-knowledge.


Vocation, contrary to popular belief, is not necessarily the one and only passion in life you’ve had since you were 5. There are the lucky people who are into Math since early age, continue to grow in the field, get a PhD in Physics in the States and then engage in interesting theoretical and practical projects in which they put their heart and pour their creativity juices. Like my first cousin, for example. Then, there us the rest of us – the not-so-lucky people who don’t have any of the vocation powerful calling. And that’s ok.

You can find your vocation or purpose at a later stage in life by following the critical milestones in your life story and the topics that spark your interest. Life leaves us traces and with curiosity, perseverance, and dedication we can interpret them – identify our calling and use this information practically.

I’ve had a coaching client who was very much into circus as a boy. As a teenager, he was so funny that his friends often suggested he became a comedian. His professional realization was in marketing and PR and hiking was always a big portion of his life.  Through a series of coaching sessions, we’ve established that his life theme – or his vocation – is to thrill people. Following through the traces together, he did the necessary soul searching and research, and now he has his own business organizing extreme and exotic travels.



Hobbies are most rarely confused with the other three, but are still included in the professional mix, because many people – mostly after having read a popular self-help book, decide to inventorize their hobbies and see whether they can make money out of them. Because “when you find the job you love, you won’t have to work a day in your life.”

Hobbies are enjoyable precisely because they are not burdened with the money-making expectations. Hobbies are what we do for the joy of doing it. We enjoy the process and are not so interested in the end result, don’t have deadlines to chase and customers to satisfy. Hobbies fill us with energy and temporarily relocate us to a different world. Whether it’s a small garden on our terrace, cooking, knitting, or taking pictures, this is our creative world, which brings us nothing but pure joy.

Of course, sometimes we can turn our hobbies into profession, but before going down this road, we should answer a good deal of questions. Would I still enjoy creating jewelry if I do this every day? Would I love knitting as much if I expect it to provide my monthly salary? Do I know how to popularize my guitar lessons? And they should be good answers.

If you are considering a review of your hobbies with the purpose of picking one, which will turn you into the person who won’t have to work for the rest of her life, make sure you discuss this idea with a friend, colleague or a career consultant.

Reading through the definitions and the examples, have you picked your word? Do you have a job, manage your career, follow your vocation, or plan to go through your hobbies with the hope of making one of them a profession? If you need a guide on the road, get in touch with me to discuss how can I be of service.

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