What is your vocation? We often think of vocations as being something that only religious people or those in certain professions have. However, everyone can have a vocation, or a sense of purpose in their life. This might be something as simple as being a good friend, or being there for people when they need you. It could be about being honest and fair, or being a good role model. Whatever it is, try to have a sense of purpose in your life and do it with intention and compassion.
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Try to have a sense of purpose in your life, no matter what form that may take.
You don’t need to have a “noble” profession to make a difference.
You can make a difference in your family, your community, and your workplace.
Do it with intention and compassion.
About Maria Campbell:
Maria Campbell is a Mentor and Coach with a background in economic development. She is passionate about helping others to make a difference in their communities and make a positive impact in the world.
Contacting Maria Campbell:
You can contact Maria by email
By Maria Campbell
When I was a girl, in a small but respectable school in the midlands, the avenues for life and careers were reasonably limited. If you weren’t marrying a farmer (preferably with good road frontage) or seducing one of those rare civil servants (it was never clear what civil servants did, but the money was apparently good) then it was nursing or teaching.
Becoming a nurse assumed you were willing to clean up gross bodily fluids, which I most certainly was not. Primary school teaching was for those students who were good at Irish, and tá brón orm, but that was out too.
So, the fallback was ‘domestic science’. How to bake a sponge, sew on a button and entertain your future husband’s boss (and his wife) for dinner. The implicit in all of this was that your future husband would, in fact, have a job. One that required entertaining. And also, that you would never, ever ‘work’. Work was for men, and the unfortunate women who had no choice. But not for girls like me.
Career guidance, or even the idea of carving out a different path, seems to have been very much a boy topic. The local lads (who had matured enough not to be banking on a career playing soccer for Man. United) would muse about studying accountancy or law in university. Universities were all hours away, and expensive. I recall one friend in the convent secondary school who was brilliant at maths. She expressed an interest in studying engineering in Galway, and the teacher suggested she consider courses more suited to women, like teaching maths perhaps. The teacher was a nun, and mostly harmless, but may have had difficulty imagining a female engineer.
The notion that there might be a job for me in Dublin, or even Cork, was laughable. My options were to marry well or teach in a school in the locality. Teaching was all very well and good, but the money was awful. So, to be honest, I had no real career plan. I’m not even sure what I did with my Leaving Cert. I know I passed, but I can’t recall what grades I got.
Vocation, or the pursuit of a career and life with a particular noble purpose, is something that seems to have been claimed by the religious clergy, (and to a lesser extent, the medical and teaching professions). I want to argue that any life be lived with purpose, and that no matter how humble your career, it can have significant positive impact on others.
Traditionally, the religious orders and the priests were expected to live a life of chastity and poverty. The former was to stop them from fathering illegitimate children and getting women into trouble. The latter was to ensure they would not be corrupted by material wealth. Interestingly, the churches have been very good at owning vast amounts of property and wealth, but that is a topic for another day. Sadly, I have failed at chastity, and would very much like to fail at impoverishment, so the religious life is out for me.
To be a good teacher, you need to care about your students, value and respect them as young people, and want to ensure they get the best possible education. A good teacher will do this whether they are religious or not. In my experience, the best teachers are the ones who are passionate and enthusiastic about their subject, and who genuinely believe that education can and will make a difference in their students’ lives. These teachers have a vocation.
What about those of us who are not religious, and not teachers (or doctors), can we live a life of purpose? Many people choose careers that they believe will make a difference in the world. Social workers, aid workers, environmentalists, and human rights lawyers are all people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping others and making the world a better place. These people have a vocation.
But you don’t need to have a “noble” profession to make a difference. You can make a difference in your family, your community, and your workplace. You can make a difference by being a good friend, and by being there for people when they need you. You can make a difference by being honest and fair in your dealings with others, and by being kind. You can make a difference by being a good citizen, and by voting, and by paying your taxes. You can make a difference by being a good neighbour, and by looking out for people who are vulnerable. You can make a difference by being a good role model.
For me, most people who me, a middle-aged woman with an Irish country accent, would never guess the career I’ve had and the purpose that has driven me. When I tell them of my career in the Irish public sector, in the area of economic development, they are usually surprised. I don’t think they had me pegged as a “career woman”. Which is fine. I’m not a career woman. I’m a woman with a career.
I chose my career because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help create jobs and improve the lives of people in my community. I wanted to make a difference in my own life, and the lives of my family and friends. I wanted to use my skills and abilities to make a difference in the world. And I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to do that.
I think it is important to have a sense of purpose in your life, whatever form that may take. For me, it is about using my skills and experience to help others, and making a difference in the world. What is yours? I now mentor other women who want to have an impact in their communities and make a difference in the world.
You don’t need to have a “noble” profession to make a difference. You can make a difference in your family, your community, and your workplace. You can make a difference by being a good friend, and by being there for people when they need you. You can make a difference by being honest and fair.
So, whatever you do in life, do it with purpose. Do it with intention. Do it with passion. Do it with compassion. Do it with kindness. Do it with respect. And do it with love.