Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir ‘Eat Pray Love’ sold 10 million copies. But what many people don’t know, is that she was a ‘successful’, paid writer before that book. Maybe not to the degree that she is now, but still relatively successful.
But even so, as Gilbert shares in her recent book ‘Big Magic’, she only gave up her day job once ‘Eat Pray Love’ went huge. She had been freelance paid writer before then, but had kept a day job the whole time.
Because she saw – and still sees – writing as her calling, her vocation – whether it’s her day job or not.
Which highlights one of the biggest and most dangerous myths around calling:
That to pursue a vocation or calling means it has to become our day job, our primary source of income – otherwise we’ve failed in our calling.
And it’s a total lie.
Of course, some dreams – like being a doctor, a lawyer or some other profession, do involve money. But I find the best doctors and lawyers are the ones who don’t do it for the money, but out of a sense of vocation. They didn’t sign up because of the salary, but because it’s what they dreamed of, what they care about. It’s who they are.
As I writer I see so many people at the beginning of their writing journey who get close to giving up before they’ve started – because they despair of making money from their gift. Before they’ve even started out, they are setting unnecessary goals.
Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t dream big. It’s not saying it’s unrealistic to make money from your work.And it’s perfectly OK to want to make money from you work.
But when money is your number one motivator, your work will suffer.
I’m a big fan of dreaming big. We should have big dreams, and pursue those. But those dreams shouldn’t be about how much money we can make. If your dream is simply to be rich or make money from work, then I can tell you now, you’ll likely lose your soul in the process.
It nearly happened to me. I began to think about making money, about numbers, stats and status in my work a while back. My work suffered, and I began to lose myself a bit. I very nearly lost my soul. Fortunately, I got a wake up call from circumstances, and from good friends.
Success Is Beginning
Your calling is about being true to who you were created to be. It’s about doing the thing you were born to do. That could be literally anything. And there’s simply no need to pollute or sabotage it with the expectation or condition your income becomes dependent on it.
Our calling is totally separate from our pay-check. (you can tweet that)
Success isn’t about money. If you dare to step out and risk, to take action to pursue your calling, you’re already doing better than many people. So many give up before they’ve really begun. If you have the courage to overcome resistance, and take action to follow that vocation you know is your life’s calling, you’re already a success.
Success is beginning.
So this year, when figuring out your goals, when deciding to explore your calling, don’t think it needs to become your job. Like Liz Gilbert, don’t let the lie that you need to make money from you need to make your living from your vocation sabotage you achieving your life’s calling. Never allow success to be defined by money or numbers.
Just step out and take action. Set realistic expectations, set goals, and keep the big dream in mind. Keep going. And know that success in your calling isn’t about money.
It’s the simple act of taking action, and keeping going when it’s tough.
So begin today.
Question for Reflection
Have you believed the lie that your calling has to be your day job?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
This post is part of #synCREATE on this month’s theme of vocation & calling.
Find out more here.
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(Picture Sources: Bam.org / ShapingArt.com)