Seeking career fulfillment, we need to actively construct our career, rather than just keep following the path of least resistance doing whichever job falls in our way. However, fulfillment means different things for different people because we all have different aspirations, goals and talents. One common thread that unites most of us though is the drive to flourish in life – live a life that is full and thriving with a lasting sense of wellbeing. The other end of the spectrum is to languish, where life is empty and hollow. Because of the amount of time we spend at work, our career can contribute significantly to whether we flourish or languish in life.
Psychology Professor, Martin Seligman, gives us the keys to a flourishing life. His PERMA model (Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment) tells us that there are five areas that we need to concentrate. Some of these areas can be met through our personal lives but some of them are strongly fulfilled through our work:
Positive emotions – your emotion bank needs at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative transactions in your day-to-day life to stay in the positive.
Engagement – this is about often being so interested and absorbed in what you are doing that time flashes by quickly whilst leaving you with a sense of control and skill over your task. Periods of being ‘in the zone’ whether it be cooking at home, or negotiating a contact, or designing a website etc is living the moment.
Relationships – good relationships are important in giving you a sense of connectedness to the world around you.
Meaning – is having a sense of direction and purpose in life. Knowing that your work makes a difference is achievable and perhaps one of the most important goals to a fulfilling career. This is not ‘what is the meaning of life’, it is, ‘how can I make my life meaningful.’
Accomplishment – is knowing that you are succeeding and achieving at tasks and activities. Completing tasks that adequately challenge your skills and knowledge resulting in a sense of accomplishment.
Later articles will introduce how you can use these ideals to address issues in your career.