There is no question to the important and central role an occupation plays for individuals and families in providing the means to live, and in most cases even a sense of societal involvement and influence (Hartung, 2010).
Compared to other important life decisions, there are those who contend that occupational decision and career development become secondary, with some arguing whether people should even have the opportunity of making the choice in the first place (Blustein, 2006).
For some, career and occupational achievement also provides a sense of personal growth and self-fulfillment. Today, more than ever, the unrelenting demands of a sour economy and social upheavals have coupled with the rapid growth of information technology and globalization to force profound and rapid changes across all job sectors and organizations (Savickas & Baker, 2005).
In order for individuals to acclimate themselves to the sweeping structural changes in employment around the globe, career counseling needs to remain viable to a diverse international community throughout the lifespan (Savickas, 2003; Savickas & Baker, 2005).
A career is defined by the National Career Development Association as the “totality of work—both paid and unpaid—one does in his/her lifetime” (NCDA, 2003, p. 2). Though no specific research has longitudinally studied the number of career changes a person will make throughout the lifespan, collected data seems to indicate that the average person will change occupations as many as five to seven times (Rosenberg & McKay, 2006).
With career considered to be the largest financial asset for an individual, career development then, becomes vital (Schroeder, 2010).
Career development, as defined by the NCDA, “is the total constellation of psychological, sociological, educational, physical, economic, and chance factors that combine to influence the nature and significance of work in the total lifespan of any given individual” (NCDA, 2003, p. 2). Not only will the average person change occupations five to seven times throughout the lifespan, studies (Rath & Harter, 2010) indicate that career is the most crucial of the five components of life satisfaction and wellbeing (career, social, financial, physical and community).
Although, only one in five people enjoy the work they do in a given day (Rath & Harter), those who score high on measures of career wellbeing are more than two times as likely to be living a satisfying life as a whole (Rath & Harter).
Studies have consistently revealed that people with a strong sense of purpose and meaning in their lives report fewer psychological issues, lower rates of workaholism, better work adjustment and greater overall happiness in life (Kosh, Steger & Duncan, 2008). Those who view their work as a source of meaning in their lives are found to be more engaged in their role, have higher levels of commitment to their job, work better in teams and find greater satisfaction from their work (Kosh, Steger & Duncan).
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is a speaker, author, counselor and professor. He specializes in attachment and relationship research, the Millennial generation, crisis and trauma, marriage and family, and spiritual formation.