In an ideal world, each of us would meet our calling in our work. We would make a living doing what we love to do. Our unique talents and experiences – along with the support and resources we are given – would be met by the challenges of each day. Our work would be meaningful to us, and at the end of each day, we would feel we have made a positive difference.
But of course, in the real world, many of us are just working to pay the bills and to keep food on the table. As one of my best friends says, “It’s just a job.” At different points in our lives, our circumstances are such that we have to settle for a job that we don’t find particularly meaningful, challenging or the opposite – way too stressful.
But our ideals – and our dreams – are worthwhile considering if you are a young person considering your vocational options, an adult looking for work, a boss trying to engage employees, or a worker wondering how things could be better.
Just as we don’t have complete control over the circumstances of our lives and our physical health, we have to pause and consider those things that we can influence. When I work with patients with a chronic health condition such as congestive heart failure or diabetes, we focus on the things they can do to maintain mastery over their health – what activities will improve their condition, what types of food will reduce potential complications and what they need to monitor to slow down the progression of disease.
A sense of control – and recognizing that our actions can make a positive difference – can make us empowered and engaged patients.
Next: The importance of a sense of control to your wellbeing.