Your secret passion gig is hurting your performance at your real job

“Calling” is defined as an actual second paid job, in addition to one’s first (primary) job, that is a “consuming, meaningful passion.”

Working a second job that’s a “calling” – not a side hustle, but your true dream work – may make you less engaged at your primary job, according to a study authored by Brian D. Webster and Bryan D. Edwards in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.

For the purposes of the study, “calling” is defined as an actual second paid job, in addition to one’s first (primary) job, that is a “consuming, meaningful passion.” The primary job may be seen as a career, or it may be seen as solely a way to make money. The calling might be singing in a club, working part-time at a women’s shelter to “give back,” writing, or just about anything that study participants felt passionate or socially meaningful about.


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The road to burnout

Working two jobs when there’s no pressing economic necessity also seems like a setup to burn the candle at both ends. While the researchers noted that “callings, in and of themselves, do not necessarily demand more resources from individuals… it is likely the individual has a difficult time devoting high levels of resources required for work engagement at the primary job.”

This hypothesis was tested amongst two groups of people and was confirmed: having a second job that’s your “calling” will result in a “resource drain” on your primary job. In general, there just isn’t enough energy to go around.

But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily quit you calling: researchers suggest that performing work in one’s calling could make your life happier overall, therefore making it worth it even if you aren’t performing as well over at your first job. After all, there are many ways to achieve happiness at work.

Or to make it work. A 2014 NEA report called “Keeping My Day Job” showed that more than a quarter-million Americans have second jobs as an artist or a musician. Looks like callings – and the primary jobs that support them – are alive and well.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.