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carEEr WEll-bEing

and your idEntity peOpLe UnDerestimAte the impACt OF their CAreer On

their OVerALL heALth

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o you like what you do each day? This might be the most basic, yet important, wellbeing question we can ask ourselves. Yet only 20% of people can give a strong ‘yes’ in response. At a fundamental level, we all need something to do, and ideally something to look forward to, when we wake up every day. What you spend your time doing each day shapes your identity, whether you are a student, parent, volunteer, retiree, or have a more conventional job. We spend the majority of our waking hours during the week doing something we consider a career, occupation, vocation, or job. When people first meet, they ask each other, “What do you do?” If your answer to that question is something you find fulfilling and meaningful, you are likely thriving in Career Well-being. People usually underestimate the influence of their career on their overall wellbeing. But Career Well-being is arguably the most essential of the five elements of well-being. If you don't have the opportunity to regularly do something you enjoy – even if it's more of a passion or interest than something you get paid to do – the odds of your having high well-being in other areas diminish rapidly. People with high Career Well-being are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. Imagine that you have great social relationships, financial security, and good physical health – but you don't like what you do every day. Chances are, much of your social time is spent worrying or complaining about your lousy job. And this causes stress, taking a toll on your physical health. If your Career Wellbeing is low, it's easy to see how it can cause deterioration in other areas over time. 40

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Losing your identity

To appreciate how much our careers shape our identity and well-being, consider what happens when someone loses a job and remains unemployed for a full year. A landmark study published in The Economic Journal revealed that unemployment might be the only major life event from which people do not fully recover within five years. This study followed 130,000 people for several decades, allowing researchers to look at the way major life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a spouse affect our life satisfaction over time. One of the more encouraging findings was that, even in the face of some of life's most tragic events like the death of a spouse, after a few years, people do re-

cover to the same level of well-being they had before their spouse passed away. But this was not the case for those who were unemployed for a prolonged period of time – particularly not for men. Our wellbeing actually recovers more rapidly from the death of a spouse than it does from a sustained period of unemployment. This doesn't mean that getting fired will harm your well-being forever. The same study also found that being laid off from a job in the last year did not result in any significant long-term changes. The key is to avoid sustained periods of unemployment (more than a year) when you are actively looking for a job but unable to find one. In addition to the obvious loss of income from prolonged unemployment, the lack of regular social contact and the daily

Qatar Today september 10

9/28/10 2:05:45 PM

QT September Final bleed_pdf 41  

peOpLe UnDerestimAte the impACt OF their CAreer On their OVerALL heALth Losing your identity bottom line 40 Qatar Today september 10

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