Passion Vs. Paycheck: The Real Difference Between A Job And A Career

by Paul Hudson

Maybe it’s me, but I feel that both the words "job" and "career" come with a negative connotation – at least when it comes to our generation. Those in their 20s and 30s – the so-called Generation-Yers – are steering further and further away from what many would consider the reality of the American dream.

The dream once was to work hard, work young and climb your way up one of the countless ladders. One day, hopefully, you can retire with enough money to remain comfortable, all, hopefully, by the age of 60 or so – make that money and then enjoy it for the last few decades of your life. Our generation is not having any of that.

Let’s not keep lying to ourselves. A very large number of us are what most would consider privileged – especially when you look at the average quality of life over the span of human existence.

Of course, now still much more have it incredibly difficult than have it easy, but there are plenty of us who aren’t struggling to survive.

The idea of struggling to survive is so foreign to us that we find it difficult to believe at times that others have a hard time hanging on to their lives. There are genocides. There are plagues. There's starvation and there's a shortage of drinkable water.

A good number of us have it good -- and a good number of us have it very good. And many still have it as easy as it could possibly be – and there’s a good chance that you’re one of them.

You may not be wealthy, but you’re healthy. You have a place to sleep, water to drink, and food to eat. You probably even have an education. Clearly, you know how to read. You have it very, very good.

Our generation, in particular, has it easier than any other generation in history. Our parents followed that American dream, worked their asses off so that we could have it easier. And they succeeded!

Many of us now don’t have to work horrible, boring and life-draining jobs that our parents had to endure. Of course, many of us still do, but much fewer of us than ever before.

This is probably the first generation that can actually follow its dreams – no matter how ridiculous, how glorious, how seemingly impossible... it's possible.

It’s a confusing time for us. We aren’t exactly entering and trying to flourish in a booming economy – so things are likely to be getting off to a rocky start.

Nevertheless, thousands of individuals – just like you – are going out and pursuing their dreams. Even more are out there doing their best to figure out what those dreams are – which is a necessary and great part of the journey. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it’s enough.

I still think that too many of those who are well-off spend their times doing things, collecting experiences, that they should be avoiding. It’s difficult for us to understand how short life really is.

We’re in the middle of it all and can’t easily get a perspective of the whole scope of things.

The only thing I can tell you is that no matter how much you do in life, no matter how little, no matter what you do, don’t do, regret, love, cherish… when that moment comes when you know you are about to take your last breath, it will all seem to have gone by too quickly. Your life is going to be short no matter what you do or how you live it.

The only way to enjoy life and find those brief moments of true happiness is to live every moment exactly the way you believe it should be lived. This isn’t to say that we should live our life at a whim.

In fact, the more planning you do, the better. I always like to remind myself that it’s wiser to live today for tomorrow because tomorrow will shortly be your present moment. For this reason, you should always work towards a better tomorrow.

Our dreams, our goals are what we have to work towards if we want to feel like our lives haven’t been wasted. They are our purpose. Accomplishing them will make us feel that we did our jobs, that we succeeded, that we can die with a smile on our faces, happy.

The only time in your life that you don’t want to be anything but happy is the moment you move on from it. I think dying feeling any other way is the worst kind of agony.

A career is a crucial part of this process. The biggest difference between a job and career is that a job is what you work at in order to make money, while a career is working towards your goals and dreams – following that purpose and moving ahead in your journey.

You work a job when you have no idea what you should be doing with your life or when you are too lazy or too scared to follow your dreams. A job is voluntary torture traded for something of no real value: money.

A career is your life. It’s not just a job, it’s moving towards a reason for being through work, through creation.

Having a career and excelling in it is the closest that a person can ever come to being a god. Gods create. As humans, we aren’t capable of creating heaven and earth, but by creating what we can create, the best we can create it, we are fulfilling our purpose – the only pure and logical reason for living.

What you create is up to you. They don't even need to be physical things; they can be experiences just as well, but you need to create things in your life that make you feel as if you were meant to be alive. You have to create some sort of change and hope that it’s as positive and lasting as possible.

A career will bring you closer to the heavens, while a job is quite literally hell on earth. Nothing in our lives should be done solely for the money. If that money is necessary to progress to the next phase of our plan then it is not only acceptable, but necessary.

That sort of job isn’t really a job – it’s part of your career, of your journey. It’s likely to still feel like a job, but as long as you stay committed, you will make progress and you will create change.

Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/Wolf of Wall Street

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