I recently attended a discussion group lead by Scott Calvert, the Vice President of Sales at Trada.com, a crowdsource marketing company in Boulder, Colorado (their promo video is awesome – see below). The discussion of sales was engaging, yet one thing he said really stuck out:
“A business that doesn’t make money is a hobby.”
That is the main distinction between an avocation and a vocation. An avocation is simply a hobby, something done out of pure pleasure or leisure. A vocation is a trade, or an occupation. Vocation literally means “a calling.” A vocation is the opposite of an avocation (as in “without calling”).
One takes on an avocation out of fun. One takes on a vocation because they were meant to; they find purpose it in. To take on a calling means you take your trade seriously.
The end result of a vocation (e.g. making money) can bring about pleasure, but a vocation is not done out of pleasure itself. The main intent behind an avocation, however, is only pleasure.
To start a business without the intent of making money is simply an avocation. If you can’t take your business seriously, how can you expect other to?
The idea of having a calling, and being paid for it are not mutually exclusive. A vocation is your trade, which means you have skills and knowledge that are of value. Why shouldn’t you be paid for it?
An avocation will only bring pleasure, but may not necessarily allow you to make a living. A vocation will allow you to make a living AND have an avocation. Which sounds better to you?