The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being defines our occupational dimension as "cultivating personal satisfaction, growth, and enrichment in work," and fostering "financial stability."
Dr. Barry Schwartz, author of the book, Why We Work, invites us to consider whether our work is:
a job: we might feel limited in our levels of meaning, discretion, and engagement but we work to pay our bills
a career: we experience increased degrees of meaning, discretion, and engagement in our work, and we strive for advancement
a calling: we feel motivated, happy, satisfied, engaged; our work forms part of our identity; we sense we make an impact
All three scenarios are equally important and valuable.
Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky emphasizes that part of our well-being derives from "meaning" and "mattering." We can explore "meaning" in our spiritual well-being dimension. With respect to our occupational well-being dimension, Prilleltensky explains that "mattering" derives from "feeling valued and adding value." Let's consider whether and how we feel valued at work, and whether and how we add value.
Prilleltensky also invites us to explore the concept of occupational fitness: fostering a good fit between our work environment and our strengths, talents, personalities, values, and dreams.
Dr. Richard M. Ryan and Dr. Edward L. Deci, the originators of "self-determination theory" (SDT), identify three psychological needs each of us possess:
competence: knowledge that we can handle tasks and our environment, and that we can direct outcomes
autonomy: a sense that we have the power to make choices and exercise control
relatedness: a feeling of meaningful connection to other human beings
In examining our occupational well-being dimension, let's consider how our work environments help (or possibly hinder) our sense of competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Let's also consider when and how we exercise deliberate practice in our work (practicing our grit), and when we experience the awesome state of flow.
Occupational Dimension Resources:
For a deeper dive into cultivating our occupational well-being dimension, consider exploring Chapter 11 of The Flourishing Lawyer.
At this moment, does your work feel like a job, or a career, or a calling?
Do you feel valued at work? How? Do you add value at work? How?
Consider taking the VIA Character Strengths Survey. Take a look at your top 5 "signature strengths." In thinking about "occupational fitness" (or Prilleltensky's term, a "good person-environment fit"), do you have ample opportunities to use your strengths at work?
Consider crafting a 10-word purpose statement as part of cultivating our spiritual well-being dimension. In thinking about "occupational fitness" (or Prilleltensky's term, a "good person-environment fit"), how many of your ten words align with your day-to-day activities at work?
In thinking about Ryan & Deci's self-determination theory, do you feel a sense of competence at work? A sense of reasonable autonomy? A sense of relatedness? Why or why not?
During your workday, do you have opportunities to engage in deliberate practice of skills (practicing grit)?
When performing your work, do you ever experience a state of flow (when time and space seem to disappear and you feel totally immersed in your work, knowing that you possess the requisite skills to meet the challenge)? How can we cultivate flow states more often in our work?