I love helping people find their calling in life. Unfortunately, I have not always chosen the wisest routes when it comes to avoiding common vocational pitfalls! I am sure that I am not alone in this!
Seven common vocational pitfalls that you should be aware of are:
1. Setting sights too low- This one breaks my heart. How many people are out there taking abuse in jobs that they hate? How many high quality, talented, personable people are getting beat up in corporate cultures in which they are not valued? How many people could be the boss but are unaware of it or too afraid to achieve a higher level in life? My friend influenced my thinking in this regard. When it came to his education he did not ask “What is the cheapest community college I can attend?” Instead, he asked “How far and how high can God take me in my educational journey?” In the end he studied at Oxford and through a divine appointment built a personal connection with a member of the British royal family. Instead of setting your sites low, what might happen if you opened yourself to God taking you to a greater level of influence?
2. Working for money rather than to fulfill calling- The time when I saw the futility of this approach first hand was in a season in which I needed short-term employment. Our family was waiting for our home to sell before embarking on a three month sabbatical. In my infinite wisdom I thought to myself “I like working with wood. That’ll pay the bills for a few months.” So off I went into a variety of construction jobs. Well, that might as well have been a prison sentence for me as I derived no enjoyment from the work. Dan Miller of www.48days.com offers brilliant advice on this point. He urges people not to run out and find the quickest job when they need employment, but rather to pause and consider how they can get into work that they love for the long-term. Most people have a ‘worst job’ story to tell, but those jobs should be a stop along the way rather than our destination.
3. Not finding a match in culture and values- Within any field or industry you can find yourself in a work place that either matches or runs contrary to your values. It is not just a matter of working within your field of interest, it is also important to find the closest match in terms of priorities. For example, is the culture of the organization progressive or staid? Is integrity valued or are indiscretions tolerated for the sake of the bottom line? Are whiners and complainers catered to or are leaders honoured?
4. Not understanding the components of job satisfaction- Michael Hyatt (www.michaelhyatt.com) asserts that the three components that must be present for you to experience job satisfaction are: (1) you must have passion, (2) you must be competent and (3) you must have a market. If you have all three of these components—passion, competence, and a market—you experience satisfaction. Few things in life are more rewarding. However, he says, you have to be wary of having only two:
Passion + Competence – Market = A Hobby
Passion + Market – Competence = Failure
Competence + Market – Passion = Boredom
5. Getting timing wrong- No job lasts forever and eventually you need to discern when it is time to transition out. Often people leave a job prematurely before they have gleaned everything they could have gleaned. On the other hand, it is possible to stay longer than you should in an unhealthy situation. If and when you feel it is time to transition out of your current role it is crucial that you surround yourself with wise counsel. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” (Prov. 11:14)
6. Burning bridges- It is normal to hit points of frustration in your work life, and there are times that you need to move on to something that is a better fit for you. However, far too often people take shots at the organization- or the people they were working with- as they are on their way out the door. In our thirst for vengeance we burn the bridge and close the door to relationships and opportunities with those people. This is not a calculated decision! There is little thought given to the fact that you may need a reference from that company, you may be branding yourself as a complainer or you may need to return to the organization at a later date. I have lived long enough to see work relationships that did not seem ideal at the time become instrumental at a future date.
7. Working for someone else’s dream- You have a limited number of years on planet earth, so I want to impress on you the reality that you are running out of time! In the last couple of years God has been impressing on my wife and I a sense of urgency. The choice was ours. Either we could continue to invest energies in the values and priorities of others or set out and do what what we were designed to do. We chose the later and have not looked back.
May God richly bless you in your vocational journey! Drop me a line if you feel you would benefit from vocational coaching at robparkman [at] live [dot] ca!