Labor: Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting. Work: A specific task or effort, especially a painful or arduous one.
The language we use to describe the place we go and the activities we engage in most days of the week, and most weeks of the year (for wages) can generally be considered not very enticing. Labor, work, effort. Fair enough, the building and maintenance of our nation’s cities, roads and infrastructures; the growing of food, etc. could not have been done without back breaking, exhausting WORK of laborers. But, as advanced education becomes an increasing reality for many, we now have the ability to choose the type of work we actually want to labor in.
Since WWI, psychologists and others have been exploring ways to match workers with jobs. Assessment tools were developed that sought to determine a person’s personality preferences, career interests, abilities and values. Today, tools such as the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory help people make educational and occupational choices that best fit an individual’s interests. That said, no single or even series of assessments can tell an individual what he or she “should be”. Despite a client’s plea for “the answer”, career counseling is a complex process that must take into account a variety of factors. Assessment tools, regardless of their psychometric properties provide pieces to the overall puzzle. Other factors must be considered such as physical and mental health, interests, values, family circumstances, labor market, cultural/ethnic/gender identification and so on.
Nonetheless, the notion of “doing what I love”, and “finding my passion”, have become relatively recent, yet increasingly common ideals of job seekers. With greater access to career counseling, higher education, the globalization of workforce, American workers today have options unlike any other cohort in history. And, when able to choose, workers desire to work in professions that match interests, abilities, values and passions.
Job satisfaction and job performance are directly related to finding work that is a best fit for an individual’s psychological type and interests. From the structure of the work environment to the type of activities engaged in, what a worker finds energizing and satisfying is related to the unique and individual preferences of the individual. According to research, we should be engaged in meaningfully satisfying work at least 75% of the time. Less than that and it means we are, more often than is comfortable, tasked with engaging in work activities that take us out of our “heart zone” and into tasks that are either under or over challenging. For work not to feel like work, we need to find jobs that allow us to engage, 75% of the time, our personality preferences, skills, abilities, and values and interests. Think this is not possible? Think about when you are happiest at work. What are you doing? Who are you with? Where are you? What specific tasks are you engaged in? What time of day is it? Are you under a deadline? There are dozens of clues that can help you assess where your heart is at work. Find opportunities to do more of these types of activities and you may be well on your way to that 75%! Americans spend nearly 1/3 of our lives at work. Doesn’t it make sense that we spend that time doing work that is engages our heart?
Donna Thrash Kurpiers, LMHC
3222 Corrine Drive, Suite A Orlando FL