One theme in Carol’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation, is that people can become easily confused as they begin their entrepreneurial endeavors. They think they have found their “calling,” or maybe they think they would do much better working for themselves than their previous boss. Maybe they think they will have more freedom than they do in their existing 9-5 job. The biggest point of confusion, however, can be when people think they are on a mission when really they are just creating a job for themselves. How can you tell if you are creating a mission or a job? Here are four points to consider.

1.     You are easily able to verbalize your objectives (and they aren’t just about you)

If you are working at a job and someone asks you what your goals are, your response may reflect monetary concerns more than anything else. “I want to make enough money so that I can take that European vacation I’ve always dreamed of.” “I want to get a raise.” “I want to get a promotion.” There is nothing wrong with these goals, but if you are responding in those ways about your new venture, it is likely you have created a job versus a mission. Someone on a mission may say, “I want to teach people the difference between habits that waste water and habits that help preserve water.” Maybe your mission is to improve testing scores in a school district. The goals are less about you and more about the world beyond and around you when you have a mission.

2.     You’re not watching the clock

Carol talks a lot about how new entrepreneurs feel shock (and perhaps dismay) when they realize they actually have less free time than they did when they worked for someone else. If you have created a job for yourself, you may want to draw clear lines around when you will be on call and when you will not do work at all. For example, maybe you try to maintain regular 9-5 hours even though you are working for yourself. Once 5:00 hits, you shut down your computer and you feel done for the day. If you’re on a mission, time is only a hindrance working against you as you try to get things done. You dream about your mission in your sleep, you’re always thinking about it, and you never tire of working on your dream.

3.     You can imagine doing this for the rest of your life

Carol talks in her book about how many entrepreneurs are very excited about their new jobs when they first get started. Then the days start becoming weeks, the weeks turn into months, and the months begin to turn into years. Slowly but surely it can become easy to tire of doing the “same ole thing” and you might envision a time when you’re doing something else entirely. This is less common if you are working on a mission versus a new job. When you are on a mission, you don’t want to be “done’ until you are really and truly done, whenever that may be.

4.     You are personally fulfilled by your work

Earning money is great. I think we can all agree on that. But money is a means to an end. Money enables us to buy things we like or go to places we want to see. Money is not necessarily fulfilling, however, unless you are really centered on your pecuniary health. A job is also often a means to an end. You work the job to generate the income you want. But many people on a mission don’t focus on the money or benefits end of the spectrum. They are content as they work on their passion project, as they see progress, or as their cause grows or gains momentum. Their happiness rises and falls as the success of their mission rises and falls. While money is necessary to live, people on a mission often care far less for their own well-being in contrast to the people they’re trying to help.

As you can see, there are some big differences between creating a job and being on a mission – from the level of commitment to the emotional payoff. It’s important to know what’s driving you. 

Having gone through this checklist, are you on a mission or are you working a job? Would you define these terms differently? We’d love to hear from you!