Does your work life feel exhausting and frustrating? Does it feel energising and exhilarating? If you are experiencing the former, I imagine your work life is not honouring your signature strengths. If the latter, I imagine you are honouring your signature strengths at work.
A strength involves choices about when to use it and whether to keep building it and, whether to acquire it in the first place. A strength is a trait, a psychological characteristic that can be seen across different situations and over time. Engaging in a strength usually produces an authentic positive emotion in the doer e.g. pride, satisfaction, joy or fulfilment.
In Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness, he suggests that we need to use our signature strengths to maximise our work satisfaction. As you consider your aspiration, what signature strengths are you honouring? What unrealised strengths might you want to invest more time, effort and determination in, to service you achieving your aspiration?
Finding a way to use your signature strengths at work often, coupled with seeing your work as contributing to a worthwhile endeavour can lead to you experiencing fulfilment and a sense of gratitude that will positively impact your life. Mike Ciskszentmihalyi describes the concept of ‘being in flow’ where we experience a positive emotion about the present with no conscious thought or feeling attached. This state of flow visits us for a few moments on several occasions where the challenges we face are perfectly matched with our ability to meet them. In what circumstances do you experience this sense of flow? What other situations can you create to experience this same sense of flow where time feels like it is standing still?
To find out what your signature strengths are, visit www.authentichappiness.com and complete the VIA strengths survey which is free of charge. With your results:
From your top 5 signature strengths:
- What do they mean for you?
- What is the impact on you when you engage these strengths? (e.g feeling of excitement, energy or exhaustion, hard work)
- What examples can you refer to when you have used these particular strengths where you were performed at your best?
- What opportunities can you create to capitalise and use these strengths more of the time?
From the remaining list:
- What strengths do you own and energise you when deployed from this list?
- What new ways can you create to enact this/these strengths to develop them further?
Seligman, M. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2002, Authentic Happiness