In my travels throughout the working world, I have to say that there has been nothing I have seen or thought of that could explain the working world more than something I picked up and expanded on from The Minimalists; Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In one of their podcasts where they were talking about jobs and in general the working world and more so about us all finding something that aligns with our values and beliefs and not just doing something to get “that all mighty dollar”. Josh mentioned that there is something that we all should strive to do which is to take our Jobs or Careers and turn them into something we can become passionate about (or to go and seek out what it is that we are passionate about) and eventually with enough refining and drudgery we can turn it into our mission. I decided to take this and expand on it and call it the Job to Mission Hierarchy. I am going to expand on what each level is, how to move up and why I feel, much like The Minimalists, that we should all be striving for the mission.
The first level is Job. This requires no experience to get started in, this is often involving retail, restaurants or even base-level jobs to get you in, that again require no experience. You may need experience in these jobs in order to move from one level to another, but there is no educational requirement for these jobs. A dishwasher in a restaurant does not need a university degree to do that job, a sales representative in a retail store did not need to go to school for fashion to be able to sell shoes. They are often filler jobs, serving the purpose of getting us to a place where we can eventually shoot for that career-level employment and examples of this would be kids getting jobs in high school, the jobs we all worked in College/University or even the basic jobs that new immigrants tend to work when they first come over so that they can get some money coming in. Now, I know of people who at the very basic level are very content sticking it out working for Walmart or Tim Hortons for the rest of their lives. They live simply, they can move up the ranks, but do not kid yourself, these are still not careers despite what you may tell everyone. If I can get in and work under you without experience, and without any education, and just putting in my time, move up and eventually replace or even move above you, it is not a career but a job. The biggest piece about jobs is that they really only satisfy one aspect; money. You need it, and now you are getting it, no one really feels fulfilled scrubbing toilets in some greasy spoon for the rest of their lives (trust me, I was there at one point). Careers can satisfy much more.
The second level is Career. To achieve this, there is often an educational barrier of some sort. A 2-year college diploma, a 4-year bachelor degree, these employment situations may start off as entry-level and not paying much (or in terms of unpaid internships, not at all), but there is a chance through either more education (i.e.. Going to Uni after College, or going for that Master’s Degree) or through the old adage of “putting in your time” you can eventually move up the ladder, get salary and benefits within most organizations, and a lot of these even entry-level positions pay more than most stages at the Job level. Careers can satisfy on both a monetary and emotional level, but let’s be real here for a second, it is still in the bottom half of the hierarchy for a reason, they are not and should not be the end of achievement. Most people (I would rough it out to about 80%) are more than okay just striving for some mediocre job paying them 50-80k a year, with the salary and benefits and just sitting comfy on that. Why not? They can afford a mortgage on a house, start a family, go on vacations, do almost anything that you would want to do with that amount of money, but there is one area where careers lack; achievement. When you are just sitting pretty making your money over there in the corner, having had a college/university experience in your past, and making the best life for yourself possible, you are missing out on feeling truly fulfilled by doing anything more than just effecting your small circle of influence that you have created. This is the reason why a lot of people will go through all of this, the education, starting the family, buying the house and then it will all fall apart because there is something that is missing; the passion. It is not there with Careers.
The third level is Passion. Passions are the beginning of the top part of the hierarchy and this is something that not all people have the luck or joy of ascending to, and it is not because they cannot, it is because this often requires either a lot of sacrifice, breaking apart systems and things that you have created for yourself, or getting lucky and knowing what you are passionate about before investing 20+ years into the career you have chosen. Passions are often harder to eke out into the open because we all naturally have regrets and worries; “is this the thing I want to do for the rest of my life?” “where is the money in this?” “I do not know if I want to put myself through that much schooling…” and a whole host of others because society and the average person do not have the drive…or do we…but it is just that we think that at the career level we have it made. People see the house, car, family, vacations pictures and assume that they have all that society wants them to have and that they need not achieve any more. That to me is just human arrogance and laziness. People should then once they have all of the things that they could need, begin the next phase which is looking for your passion. Something that in and of itself gets you excited to get up in the morning, something that whenever it is happening it does not feel like work, something that comes natural to you, and more importantly, you should be doing it regardless of whether you are making your money from it or not. If you have your passion on the side while you are working a career, and then one day you can make that transition that is the ultimate goal. Your passion is a job that is not a job, a lifelong career that is not a career, and something that transcends work. Whether that is teaching, writing, playing sports, gardening or whatever. You may also notice that it seems like I have mentioned things that many people pass off as “hobbies”, but that is truly where passions sprout from, things you enjoy doing, then you find a way to get good (son) and then eventually when you are feeling confident you can move on to making some money and then eventually supporting yourself and your lifestyle on something that you are passionate about. It is a lengthy process, but worth it in the end. Now, to many people this would seem the end of the line, but if you notice there is still one level left; Mission.
The fourth and final level is Mission. A mission begins once you have finished all of the above steps from the passion and are now fully supported on your passion. Now you are turning around and giving back to the community at the very least, and trying to change the world at the very most. You have become proficient at the particular passion; you could even say that it is “your calling”, and now you are giving back to the world because you are in a state where you can afford to do so and have nothing much more to gain personally, so you want to see the world succeed. Whether that is going from teaching in a high school classroom to teaching English to children in a foreign country, going from practicing writing philosophy to publishing the next great philosophical piece, going from gardening in your backyard to running the local botanical gardens. It is taking that passion up to a level where more people than just you and those closest to you benefit. The mission is the ultimate end goal, and if we were all striving to achieve this (and we all can), the world would be a better and happier place. If everyone could do what they love to do, support themselves on it, the world would not only be a more fulfilling place, but one painted in all of the colours and told in all future stories.
Marcus Levis (Age 23)