Vocational well-being is the ability to achieve personal satisfaction and fulfilment from work, maintain balance in our lives and make a positive difference within the organisations in which we work as well as the communities where we live.
What does “vocation” encompass?
It is the answer to the question “What do you do?”. We prefer the word ‘vocation’ to alternatives such as ‘job’, ‘career’ or ‘occupation’ because it implies a ‘calling’ which is better than just being occupied with paid work. We define vocation as any sort of paid or unpaid work, including childcare, family care and housework. It also includes volunteer and community work. Continuing education, vocational training, and other types of vocational development are also included. It could also include any endeavour – such as playing music, writing, art or crafts – that achieves personal fulfilment from the use of knowledge, skills and talents.
Do what you really want to do
It doesn’t matter what your vocation is. However, since a significant amount of our waking hours are spent at or involved with work it is important that you find it fulfilling and rewarding for its own sake. Your vocation should align with your interests and values as well as using your talents, strengths and skills. Your chosen vocation should fulfil your intrinsic needs and ambitions for achievement, usefulness, personal development, purpose, belonging and mutual endeavour. Extrinsic rewards such as money and status are good but only up to a point. Everyone needs to pay the bills and have sufficient material wealth for well-being but this can be a surprisingly low amount. Be proud of what you do, not how much you earn.
“If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment, all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky in ‘The House of the Dead’
How much do you agree or disagree with the statements below?
- I am happy with my career or job choice.
- I look forward to work.
- My job responsibilities and duties are consistent with my values.
- My job gives me personal satisfaction and stimulation.
- I am happy with the professional and personal growth opportunities in my career/job.
- I feel my job allows me to make a difference in the world.
Whilst work is an important part of life and often adds considerably to a person’s well-being, it can also cause problems. Long hours, commuting, uncertainty and expectations can all create anxiety and stress. You can also add the fact that too many people don’t feel their jobs are enjoyable or fulfilling.
Studies have shown that in general people are working longer hours than ever, are more stressed and are neglecting other areas of their lives. It is a shame that a mother or a father will be stressed, working long hours to provide the things that a family needs when in fact the family needs a stress-free parent who is around more.
A piece of the well-being puzzle
Vocational wellness is connected to other dimensions of wellness and to the overall level of wellness someone experiences. Having a satisfying work life positively impacts physical and emotional wellness. Engaging in professional development enhances intellectual wellness. Working collaboratively and positively with others enhances social wellness. Achieving personal satisfaction and fulfilment in one’s work deepens our sense of meaning and purpose, and therefore inner well-being.