The increasing desire for fulfilling work

As a career counsellor, I have witnessed the increasing desire for fulfilling work amongst my clients.

Fulfillment is at the top of the “want” list for those experiencing career transitions, for those re-assessing their relationship with their current work roles, for those who are experiencing and navigating work-related stress and burnout, or for those in the beginning stages of career development.

This prioritizing of fulfillment as a personal criterion for work and career has emerged in conjunction with the many changes that have taken place in the job market worldwide, the reality that we will likely have more than one career in a lifetime, the necessity for flexible, portable skill sets, and the shifts in how and where we work.

The desire for fulfilling work changes the conversation in career counselling

The desire, and increasing expectations, for fulfilling work have also had an impact on the types of conversations clients wish to have in career counselling. These conversations are increasingly experiential and reflective before they are strategic.

The desire for fulfillment also reveals very human (existential) desires to experience meaning, security, relationship, and community. And these human desires in turn influence the expectations we have of work and our relationship with our career throughout our lifetime.

Making space for these more experiential conversations deepens perspective. It helps to reveal assumptions, expectations, and aspirations the client has about their career and work. All of this is important content as it illuminates possibilities and helps to design more robust strategies that are relevant and appropriate to the client.

Career fulfillment is personally defined and influenced by our work environments

Fulfillment is always contextual, fluid, and personally defined.

But what makes our work fulfilling, specifically? How do our expectations of work influence how we experience fulfillment? What do we experience from our work and what do we experience within the workplace? What do our workplaces provide that contribute to our experience of fulfillment?

Some aspects of work that contribute to a sense of fulfillment:

  • We have access to, and opportunities for, decent work, at liveable wages.
  • We experience a certain degree of stability in our jobs.
  • We find the content of our work interesting and stimulating.
  • We experience the work we do as purposeful and relevant.
  • We feel that we can fulfill our roles and responsibilities at work – that our workdays are manageable.
  • Our skills and abilities are recognized and respected.
  • We feel that we are contributing – that our skills and our efforts are of value to the work environment.
  • There is a congruence – a “right” fit – between our skills and the job or role we are tasked with.
  • We have opportunities for professional development. We have opportunities to discover new potentials within ourselves.
  • We experience self-agency – we have a voice, we can make decisions, and we can shape and/or expand our role as we grow and develop.
  • We understand what is expected of us. Communication in the workplace is good and respectful.
  • Our workplaces take our physical well-being and our mental health seriously. Policies are practised and visible in the day-to-day operations of the workplace.
  • We experience relatedness and belongingness as part of a work community and we feel we have a place in the world.

For reflection

When you reflect on your relationship with work and career, when you think about your experiences thus far, how do you define career fulfillment? What aspects of your work environment enhance your experiences of fulfillment?

Conversation, reflection, and personalized strategies at Canvas Career Counselling. Contact [email protected] for more information.