like you to imagine something for a second. I’d like you to imagine
that you’ve just met someone for the first time. Maybe you’re at a
dinner party, a networking event, or perhaps even just on a plane. It
doesn’t matter. Once you’ve shaken hands, exchanged names and smiles,
the inevitable question ensues:
do you do?”
answer to this question will supposedly paint the portrait of the
person before of eyes- vividly revealing their innate strengths,
talents and values. For by asking a person how they spend the
majority of their waking lives, aren’t we looking to understand who
they are and what they stand for?
how many people, when asked this question, feel what they do is
something more than exchange time for money? How many people feel
that the way they spend their nine to five reflects any core aspect
of who they are? How many people feel that nobody could make quite
the same unique contribution to their chosen field as they can?
me tell you. Approximately thirty-three percent.
see, psychology shows us there are three ways to consider the work we
do (1). For some people work is nothing more than a job. In other
words, a way to make ends meet. People who perceive their work in
this way usually have very little emotional or psychological
investment in what they do.
alternative is to regard work as a career. In this case, the focus is
on professional development- climbing the ladder, so to speak. There
may be particular interest here in increasing our professional and
social status, with the psychological, emotional and financial reward
this may bring.
a third way to approach work is considering it to be a vocation.
That’s right- a vocation. Work which is deeply fulfilling, allowing
an individual to entwine their innate strengths and talents, ever
growing whilst serving the world with their unique gift.
the work we do does not determine whether we perceive it to be our
job, career or calling. We are the ones who decide. This is powerful,
as it means we ‘job craft’ (2), making small tweaks to our daily
tasks and tapping into a never-ending source of meaning and
you want to job craft, or else find or create your vocation from
scratch, the steps are the same:
Your Character Strengths:
psychology has shown us that individuals who use their character
strengths on a regular basis experience a greater sense of happiness
and fulfillment. Yet when asked, most people struggle to pinpoint
(let alone own) their innate character strengths. By getting clear on
who you are and what matters most to you, you can confidently and
creatively look for novel ways to use your strengths in your work. If
you’re looking to enhance well-being in your present work, see if you
can shift the focus to tasks which actively employ your strengths, If
you’re looking to create something new, think about how your
strengths can best serve the needs of others. Ask yourself:
what kind of situation am I at my best?” and “which strengths am
I actively employing at that time?”.
might get you thinking a little…
now register for free to take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths:
Your Core Values
behaviour and the choices we make usually reflect our values. Whilst
the combination of a person’s core values are as unique as their
fingerprint, common core values include achievement, autonomy,
friendship, fun, justice, growth, love, respect and peace.
familiar with your strengths, you may wish to consider these the
weapons with which you’ll fight for your cause. In other words, your
strengths will be the vehicle through which you express your values.
If looking to job craft in your current position, seek new ways to
connect the current work you do with the values your hold. All too
often, the smaller tasks we do within an organisation become detached
from the bigger ‘why’. By getting in touch with a greater sense of
purpose, we’re actively imbuing our daily tasks with meaning.
if your aim is find or create a vocation from scratch, look for ways
in which your character strengths could cleverly and creatively
combine with your interests and talents to serve a very real need in
the world. That very need should be in alignment with your core
Moments of Flow
the occasions in life when you lose yourself to the task at hand. The
moments when you become so fully engaged in that which you’re doing,
that you lose all sense of time. At such times it is said that we are
in ‘flow’- our ability to perform a task is optimally aligned with
the difficulty of the task at hand. In other words, it’s neither too
difficult, nor too easy. Hence these moments of deep engagement
become very enjoyable, and over time may enhance the meaning in our
work. Why not look for more opportunities to engage in flow-inducing
It’s About ‘Me’ And ‘We’
whilst people who experience work as a vocation focus on self-growth
in every aspect of their lives, they also have something else in
common. Without exception, they all claim that the real satisfaction
comes from the difference they make to other people’s lives.
when thinking about how to transform your work into an endless source
of meaning, consider taking a huge cooking pot and pouring your
character strengths, talents, passions, values and moments of flow
inside. Stir them up and let them cook for a while. Once prepared, go
out into the world and feed the people who are most hungry for what
you have to offer. As you do just that, notice how you grow
personally and professionally every step of the way.
is true vocation.
Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P. and Schwartz, B. (1997).
Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work.
Journal of Research in Personality, 31(1), pp.21-33.
– Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2008). What is
job crafting and why does it matter?Ann Arbor, MI: University of
Michigan Ross School of Business. Retrieved from