By Tanis Helliwell
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” —Frederick Buechner
Most of us spend over fifty percent of our waking hours working, and so, to live healthily, it is essential that we like our work. Work, at its best, is a calling from our higher selves that we respond to in joy. However, there are two other ways that our society views work that can send us, at worst, down a dead end and, at best, into a limited view of what work is. These are identifying ourselves as having a ‘career’ or a ‘profession’. It is helpful to actually examine the derivation of these two words to better understand the pitfalls that we may encounter in our relationship with work. Only then can we see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is to view our work as a ‘vocation’.
The word career is derived from the Latin word for road and before that the word for vehicle. Therefore, having a career implies that we go along a path, or take a series of steps, that leads to our ultimate goal. Because we think that we will attain our desirable goal, we agree to undergo all sorts of hardships and pain along the way because in the end it is worth it.
The danger in seeing career in this light is that we may not enjoy the present jobs we have in our career and delay gratification only to find that our final goal is empty and bereft of value. If we are defining our life by our career this could lead to great unhappiness. It can be even more disillusioning if only obtaining the final goal will satisfy us and for one reason or another we never achieve it. We never become the head of the organization, or franchise our own business.
The word profession comes from Latin meaning to profess openly. During the early Middle Ages the word was used when taking religious vows and later on was adopted by people who had professions such as law and medicine which required years of study and high ideals. Therefore, the idea of having a profession is accompanied with the idea of commitment to service to others rather than to just self-interest, which we have seen with the word career. Whereas having a career can be a good thing in that it develops our skills and interests, when a career is combined with having a profession we additionally ask ourselves, “Who benefits from my work?”
A problem may arise with having a profession when we idealize or worship our work because we see it as noble. We can become workaholics and overachievers and it is not uncommon for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and business executives to do this. Also, by viewing our work as a profession we may see ourselves as better than people who do other—less obviously noble—work. There is almost a spiritual good about having a profession in service to others.
Vocation derives from a Latin word meaning a call or summons. It has the connotation that God or our soul has called us to a particular kind of work. Vocation is much broader than having a profession and any person—be it a carpenter, mechanic or writer—might have a vocation. Also, unlike a career you feel good about the present moment and are not living for a future goal in work. A calling is unique to each of us. There is no predictable path to follow unlike career paths—to be a lawyer for example. A vocation involves more than desire, our calling must also fit our skills and temperament. It gives us a sense of energy and enjoyment that is self-directed. This may not be the case for either career or professions where we define ourselves based on how others view us.
When our work is our vocation there is a higher purpose for what we do. Work is, and will always involve, either physical or mental exertion. We still have difficult days and may not like all activities in which we are engaged, but with a sense of purpose we have more energy to do these difficult or even unpleasant tasks.
Tanis Helliwell, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions. Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which offers programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.
Tanis is the author of The High Beings of Hawaii, Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Hybrids: So You Think You Are Human and Decoding Your Destiny.
For information on Tanis’ courses, click here.