The Vocational Pancake: a secret to escaping the miserable job

The Vocational Pancake: a secret to escaping the miserable job December 16, 2015



When a stack of pancakes sits for a while, butter and syrup soaking in, the individual cakes stick together. This compressed pile of fried dough is fine for eating. But when we are facing a miserable job, pealing apart the layers is key to a clean escape.


3 Layers To Your Work

In Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love, he shares a very helpful breakdown of the 3 layers or hidden categories that are worth considering when evaluating both a current job and other opportunities.

Pankcake chart

Calling is the top level, it’s God’s purpose for our work based on the gifts, opportunities, and passions he’s given us. In The Fabric of this World, Dr. Lee Hardy demonstrates that our basic calling is to use our inherent talents and the opportunities that have come our way to bring the maximum benefit to others.

Career is a specific industry and/or job path e.g. I’m in the pharmaceutical industry or construction industry. I’m on the technical path, or the customer experience path, or on the management track,  etc.

 Job is an organizationally (and contractually) defined container for my work. My job is the specific role I play at a specific organization.


Pealing Apart your Work Pancake

 As you think about your current (miserable) situation, consider the following questions:

  1. How would I define my sense of calling?
  2. What careers would be legitimate expressions of that calling?
  3. What types of jobs in those careers, would be avenues for me to maximize my contribution?
  4. Is this misery a result of not following my calling, not being in the best career that fits that calling, or simply not being in the best position at the best organization for what God has purposed for me to do.

Answering these questions will help you define what it is that needs clarified or changed. Clarify the calling then assess whether to changed-the job or change the career.


Out From Under

A miserable job can leave us feeling piled under—overwhelmed with both the negative dynamics of the situation and with self-loathing. “Why did I let myself get into this situation?” Pealing apart the work pancake helps one get out from under these oppressive feelings and spiraling thoughts. It frees us up so that we can bring our purpose to our work, instead of trying to derive our sense of purpose from our work.[1]


How About You?

How does pulling apart the reality of your job situation into the 3 layers, free you up to consider fresh possibilities for an escape from the miserable job?


Other Posts on the Miserable Job: 

[1] I heard someone say “We don’t derive our purpose from our work, we bring out purpose to our work.” But I can’t remember who said this. If it was you, please let me know!  This is a brilliant insight and I must give you the proper credit.



by Charles Knowles:



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