It’s been two weeks since I had written about values and goals. I meant to return to the topic sooner but other thoughts came to my mind so I wrote about them instead. For a “brief” review of the concept of values that is found in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), click here. The value I will be writing about today is work/career. What an interesting time to write about such a topic. Due to the pandemic, many of us had to put work/career on hold. Allow me to explain why this value, once it has been taken away, may feel like “doom and gloom.”
When it comes to work and/or career, ask yourself “What do you want your work or career to be about or stand for?” (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016). When we were children, most of us wanted to be a doctor/nurse or a teacher. The reason for this common goal was that these were those that were in the community that we often associated with as a child. These were the ones that often gave us positive affirmations and/or took care of us. I remember a few of my elementary school teachers that seemed to be more like cheerleaders for me instead of teachers! 😀
The next thing to ask yourself is what is important to you about your work (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016). According to Forsyth & Eifert (2016), it could be financial security, intellectual change, independence, prestige, interacting with others, helping people, and so on. Thanks to PBS, especially Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, I was taught the benefits of interacting and helping others while working. Thanks to my Dad, I was taught that work provides financial security and independence. 😉 Well, now that the pandemic has been occurring for about a year, many of us has been challenged with financial security and maybe even unable to interact with others. Although alternatives have been given, it may still be a drag. Sometimes understanding why such things are a drag can aid one to get out of the murky gloom one finds self in.
Although Forsyth & Eifert place work and career together, they are two different things. I had learned this “gold nugget” during my Career Counseling class at Southern Adventist University. Work is an activity that produces something of value for oneself or others whereas a career is a whole lifetime of jobs (your lifework), time extended working out of a purposeful life pattern through work undertaken by the person (Southern Adventist University, 2015). Work may be a paid job, unpaid volunteer work, or even homemaking (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016). One may find work during their late teen in retail. Then, this teen may have obtained the soft skill or promptness and thoroughness from working in retail. What else can this person do with those skills? What other jobs are needing someone that is prompt and thorough? One job may be data entry. So, now, this individual has retail and data entry on their resume as well as the skill of promptness and thoroughness. And as this individual lives on, their life continues to gain an extended purposeful life pattern. This is a career.
There are various theories that have been used to describe how one goes into a line of work or even a career but I won’t bore you with those concepts. Just know that when it comes to seeing the value of work/career, the two things to ask yourself is what do you want your work/career to stand for and what is important about your work. Sometimes, as previously mentioned, these concepts are challenged. One may have to put work/career on hold due to emotional or mental barriers: fear of failure, sense of unease (ex: a career that may mean giving up on some comforts/luxuries of current lifestyle), or thoughts of being irresponsible to pursue a dream job (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016). According to Forsyth & Eifert (2016), one should not let such emotions or mental barriers stop the individual from exploring those areas because what one does should be personally rewarding since most of us spend a major chunk of our waking moments involved in work. So, please keep this in mind when considering where you want to spend your talent, energy, and skills.
What to do when you are unable to get into or continue towards your dream job or career? Work on hard and soft skills. Find a course, class, and/or training that will benefit you once you are able to start working. If your dream job or career needs typing skills, find an online typing tutor. Some soft skills you can work on are communication (for leadership and teamwork jobs/careers), problem-solving, flexibility/adaptability, and interpersonal skills. Whatever you decide to do, know that it is reachable once you break it down into short-term goals.
To experience self awareness, please consider completing the Valued Directions worksheet. Remember to choose answers without judging.
Forsyth, J. P., & Eifert, G. H. (2016). The mindfulness & acceptance workbook for anxiety: A guide to breaking free from anxiety, phobias & worry using acceptance & commitment therapy.
Southern Adventist University (2015). Career Terms. Retrieved from COUN516—Career Counseling.