Talking Shop: Jobs, Careers and Callings

Talk Not About Shop

In my old financial crime prevention career, I would try to dissuade and distract colleagues from talking shop outside of work. When I departed the office, any interest and involvement in work departed me; save for thoughts about my colleagues and friends at work. 

Talking shop bothered me, to be honest. “Have you not anything better to talk about?” I would think to myself – and, the odd time, say out loud. 

In climbing the corporate ladder, I reached a rung at which one is expected to talk shop, which I did, always feeling somewhat disingenuous by doing so. Words rung hollow.

I loved training and helping and talking to people at work, and I was good at my job. But I never woke up feeling much excitement for my work; nothing worth writing home about, anyway – or talking about outside of work for that matter. 

Jobs, Careers, Callings

I’m reading a brilliant social psychologist at the moment, Jonathan Haidt, who writes about the difference between types of work. 

A job is something you do purely for money. Sure, there might be attendant perks – like nice colleagues and employment benefits and status – but, without dough, you go. You work to support a lifestyle outside of and completely apart from work. You leave work and work leaves you; or at least that’s how you prefer it. 

A career is something you invest yourself in, and that satisfies you in a deeper or wider sense than monetarily. Alongside the dough, you seek promotion and prestige, reward and recognition. Work is a part of your life, life might even become work for some. 

A calling is something you not only invest yourself in, but you feel like you are – you are doing you. A calling is a career in which you find meaning in the very work itself, so much so, you would be doing it whether or not there was money involved. It matters to you, and you think and talk and study it for its own sake. 

Looking at those definitions, which one of those might you fall into? Or sway towards more than the others? Perhaps you are stuck between two of them? 

My Old Job and Career

Myself – me, me, me, because this is my blog, pal – I started out in full-time employment with a job.

That job, over the course of a couple of years, started to morph from a job into a career, and then, after a hiatus at university and some growing up and a few years more work, it turned into a fairly good career.

I quite enjoyed parts of my job in financial crime prevention: it was challenging, often interesting, had a sense of camaraderie; I had great colleagues, many who are friends, many whom I still see regularly; and I had responsibility, prestige and half-decent dough. 

But never was it a calling. Never did it feel like a calling. 

I craved a deeper satisfaction, which I sought outside of employment in writing, competitive boxing and volunteering; out-of-work callings, if you will. Unpaid pursuits, and sometimes quite costly ones, at that. Nonetheless, they were, for me, satisfying and meaningful. Worth doing for their own sake.

Calling At A New Shop

Presently, I am three months into a new job; a job out of which I hope to make a career; a job that feels like a calling.

My role as a Youth Worker I have found to be intrinsically meaningful: many, maybe most aspects of my job, I would do for free, and some things I did do for free when volunteering in my former life; like mentoring, youth clubs, residentials, advocacy, playing, cooking, chirping, to name a couple. 

I get a third of what I did in my former career, monetarily speaking. 

In reality and with all things considered, I get a hundred times what I did in my former career. It gives my life meaning in a way that makes me giddily happy yet serenely content. The tone of my sighs after work are quite different in this new job.

Can I Talk Shop?

So here I find myself, in this very moment, happily breaking my rule about talking shop outside of the shop.

Truthfully, there are precious few things I would rather talk about than young people and their lives and tribulations and efforts and victories, and how I am blessed to be a part of them, however small.

So, don’t mind me as I eat my words about talking shop (with relish, I might add) and talk a bit of shop with you in future articles? 

I promise, it’s bloody interesting, with vicissitudes of gravity and levity that whip from heart-wrenching to hilarious and back again in the space of hours, sometimes minutes.

That is what I shall be writing about anyway, whether you like it or not – this is my blog, remember – but, if they bring you but a wee jolt of the joy I’ve been buzzed with lately, then they will be well worth reading.

Until then: peace, love and chirp, shags.

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