Our lives are marked by continuous movement and yet for many of us our jobs and careers do not necessarily move in tandem or sequence with our growth and development. Movement, as I use it here, refers to our evolving skills and capacities at different stages of our lives. With expanding skills, talents and perspectives, each of us offers a living (moving) experiential expertise. As a career counselor I work with movement and meaning to help my clients recognize their experiential expertise. Let me elaborate.
I frequently hear the following when clients first contact me: “I am at a crossroads”, “I want to do something I am passionate about”, “I want more meaningful and fulfilling work”; “I want to find my life’s purpose”, “I want to reach my potential”, “I want my potential to be recognized”, “I want work that better reflects my skills, strengths and personality”, “I want work that values what I have to offer”, “I want work that is inspiring”, “I want to contribute to the world in some way”, “I want a renewed direction”.
These statements describe the desire (all those “wants”) to experience the work we do, the work we choose, as fulfilling. These are also statements of purpose and commitment to ourselves, to our lives and the ongoing development of our skills and talents. These are statements of personal striving and motivation. We want to be expanding our unique skills and expertise; this is what makes our lives feel vibrant and purposeful. We also want to feel engaged with the world around us, we want to be part of something, to contribute and offer our talents; this gives us feelings of deeper connection and meaning.
These are very human expressions and not easily or universally found in the job market. Each of us has a unique story to tell and unique ways in which our accumulated experiences have shaped us, indeed have moved us. This is what I call experiential expertise. Each of us “breathes life” into what we do in unique and different ways. No profession, position, job or task is done in exactly the same way, approached with the same personal style or expertise or holds the same value and meaning. When there is congruence with the movement of our lives we feel fulfilled, we feel meaningfully engaged.
What keeps us excited about what we are doing and fuels our motivation? What are some of the ingredients of fulfilling work?
- We feel connected to, engaged with, and interested in the specific work we are doing.
- We are fully present (practicing awareness) in our daily work lives and the tasks at hand
- We have goals - we are committed to something in the future.
- We experience a sense of purpose, we feel we are part of something.
- We value what we do and what we do is congruent with our values.
- Our unique skills, talents, experiences, personality, capabilities, education, and accumulated expertise are fully active - we are acknowledged and valued for our unique assets and how we do our work.
- We have opportunities to grow and to discover new potentials within ourselves.
- We experience our lives as interconnected – we relate and are dedicated to others and to the world around us – we feel connected to our colleagues, we enjoy healthy interpersonal relationships.
- We feel that we are making a contribution - this deepens our engagement in the work we do and in our lives.
- We are learning, developing and expanding our expertise – there is movement and meaning.
How do you define meaningful, fulfilling and engaged work?