Elizabeth Gilbert on the best career advice we’ve ever heard

Elizabeth Gilbert on the best career advice we’ve ever heard

Don’t love your job? This advice is for you.

BY Nicky Champ, 6 min READ

“Here’s the great thing about a job, it doesn’t have to be awesome. It doesn’t have to fulfill you. It doesn’t have to be joyful… it just has to pay.”

If you’re working in a job you hate or haven’t yet discovered what you want to do with your life, don’t despair. We repeat, do not despair. Elizabeth Gilbert (you know her from Eat Pray Love and her more recent book, Big Magic) has shared the best career AND life advice we’ve ever heard.

In the below video (watch it when you get the chance), she distinguishes the difference between hobbies, jobs, careers and vocations. Four things we often confuse, and think are interchangeable. When we’re in a job we hate, it can be a big source dissatisfaction in our daily lives, but switch your way of thinking and you’ll see the opportunity.

Even if you love your job, but haven’t figured out your higher purpose or calling, you will find something in this that will make you instantly feel better about where you are in life.

On jobs:

“Most of the things of beauty and value that were made in this world were made by people who are not landed gentry, they were people who had to get by other ways. They were farmers, they were businessmen, they were Melville – when he was writing Moby Dick he was working in the customs office. He had a job his whole entire life, he was never able to just be a novelist.”

“Here’s the great thing about a job, it doesn’t have to be awesome. It doesn’t have to fulfill you. It doesn’t have to be joyful… it just has to pay.”

“I’ve had so many jobs that I didn’t love, I’ve had so many jobs that I didn’t like. Whatever. You go and do it, give them the thing you’re giving them and take the money in return. That is the exchange.”

“If it is killing you, if it is toxic. If you are being abused and manipulated, if it is terrible you can get out of it, if you can get a better job. Do it.”

“Just recognise your job doesn’t have to be your whole life. Your life can be outside of that.”

On career:

“Career. Here is another thing you do not have to have.”

“A career is a job that you are passionate about and that you love. A career is something you are willing to make sacrifices for. You are willing to work extra hours for. You are willing to put your life on hold for this thing because you believe in the mission of what your career is.”

“You should love your career or not have one.”

“If you are in a career that you can’t stand my suggestion is that you quit that career and just go get a job, just go get a regular job to pays the bills, so you can do other things.”

On vocation:

“A vocation is a calling. A vocation is a divine invitation. A vocation is the voice of the universe in your ear saying we want you to do this thing, use your talents and gifts and make this thing.”

“Vocation, it comes from the Latin – a calling, to be called. A vocation is the highest possible pursuit you can do.”

“Writing was my vocation for about 7 to 10 years before it became my job. Long before anybody was interested in what I was writing… writing was my sacred vocation. I had a commitment to my vocation that said: I will do this for as long as I breathe regardless of whether anything ever comes of it and in the meantime I will have a job and what I will not have is a career.”

“For a long time it (writing) was a private vocation, and then it became a job because I got a few jobs working at magazines doing some journalism, and then it became a career. Which is what it is for me now.”

“Here’s the thing. My career as a writer might end some day. The publishing industry might end some day, people might decide they don’t care about my books anymore, and my career as a writer will end, my vocation will not.”

“If you have a hobby or if you have a vocation you can live a creative life at the same time as living in the material world.”

“Think about those words: hobby, job, career, vocation, decide where you stand on all of them and don’t let go of this incredibly fierce self-accountability that it takes for you to recognise that you are in control of all of these things.”

Elizabeth Gilbert is heading to the Business Chicks stage in February and March 2020, find out more and book your ticket here.


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