Hobbies, Jobs, Career and Vocation

I have been continuing the What is Creative Living? online course hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and several other books. The second portion of the course involved some videos on the difference between hobbies, jobs, career, and vocation.

The second assignment was to sort through my daily activities and distinguish between hobbies, jobs, a career path, and a vocation. So, I’ll premise my finding with a brief overview of what each of these terms means.

A hobby is something you do purely for pleasure. The stakes are zero–you don’t need to make money and you’re not seeking fame. Nearly all creative endeavors begin as a hobby.

A job is a necessary evil that helps you pay the bills. There’s a material and a spiritual world , but they don’t necessarily interact. Your job doesn’t need to be awesome or fulfilling. It just needs to be a fair exchange–time and effort in exchange for cash.

A career is a job that you’re passionate about. In a career, you’re willing to make sacrifices in support of a mission you believe in. You don’t need a career. If you truly hate the career path you’re on, you might consider quitting and getting a job that will pay the bills without draining your creative energy. A career is something you’re supposed to love, not just something you “have”.

A vocation is a calling or a divine invitation to use your talents. A vocation is the highest possible pursuit–no one can give it to you or take it from you, unlike a job. It means you’ve discovered something that you want to do for the rest of your life, even if nothing comes of it. Guess what. You can pursue your vocation while you have a job or career, just like thousands of creative thinkers before you.

So, onto the exercise:

What activities do you currently participate in daily? Itemize what you do on both the typical weekday and weekend.
  • Work projects (auditing, compliance, process improvement, training, etc.)
  • Writing (blogging, journaling, short stories, etc.)
  • Reading (books, articles, blogs, research papers, etc.)
  • Cooking
  • Spending time with my boyfriend
  • Listening to podcasts during my commute
  • Exercise (yoga, cardio, weightlifting, etc.)
  • Visit the farmer’s market
  • Run errands
  • Read books
  • Journal
  • Visit family
  • Lunch or board games with friends
  • Experiment with new recipes
  • Exercise (yoga, cardio, weightlifting, etc.)
  • Sunrise hikes
  • Road trips and low-cost travel to beautiful locales
What are all the activities that you wish you could do more of that might not be included on your existing list?
  • Attend yoga classes more frequently
  • Teach a yoga class on the weekend
  • Meditation
  • Work with a mentor
  • Attend meetup groups
  • Attend evening classes to learn a new skill
Now draw a chart in your notebook that has 4 sections: Hobbies, Jobs, Career, and Vocation. Determine which category each activity falls into.
Hobbies Jobs Career Vocation
Reading books, articles, blogs Day job Freelance writing Writing
Cooking Compliance Research
Spending time with my boyfriend Auditing Continuous improvement initiatives
Listen to podcasts Technical document authoring Project management
Farmer’s market Contractor interface
Visit family, friends Time management training
Travel, road trips
Attend meetup groups
Teaching yoga
Board games
Is it feasible for you to move any of your hobbies towards the career category? What will that take? What risks and rewards will be involved?

Yes, I could pursue additional freelance writing. The move would require networking, marketing, and defining a unique niche for myself in order to stand out.

The risk is a mismatched vision between myself and the client, as happened repeatedly when I first took up copy writing. An additional risk is lack of payment for my work.

The reward is the satisfaction of a happy client, the opportunity to build up a portfolio, and some extra cash.

If it is necessary to keep your day job, are there ways that you could carve our adequate time to pursue your creative hobbies on the side? What trade-offs might that require?

At this stage, keeping my day job (or at least a day job) is necessary. Unless I build up a large clientele quickly or increase my rates, I don’t think freelance writing will offer a steady and sustainable income at this stage.

Some ways I could make room for creative hobbies include waking up an hour earlier to work on projects, carrying a voice recorder on my commute to capture ideas, and building my creative schedule around my boyfriend’s busy schedule so we can balance spending time together and accomplishing our individual goals.

Trade-offs might include reducing time allocation to other secondary hobbies, such as travel and cooking. I would likely also limit superfluous entertainment, such as watching television, and try to spend my “relaxation time” reading or having interesting discussions that expand my creative thinking.

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