Each of us wants to live our lives in a satisfying way. "Satisfying" is an emotional evaluation and as humans we are largely guided by our emotions. Emotions, in a very general way, encourage us to move towards that which is more pleasurable and away from that which is more painful. Emotions stem from our needs which are the essentials of life. Some needs, like our need for oxygen, cannot be denied for more than minutes. We might make it days without water and weeks without food, however we will suffer greatly in the mean time. These are examples of survival needs, but humans have many types of needs. The lack of our needs being met disrupts of our physical and emotional health. 

The clearer we are about what we need makes it much more likely that we will satisfy our needs (and lead a "satisfying" life). The following is one way to categorize our needs along with some examples of each category:

  • Survival and Security Needs
    • Air, water, food, shelter, sleep, arousal, safety, stability, justice
  • Relational/Belonging Needs
    • Touch, friendship, support, connection, love, community, play, identity, celebration, contribution
  • Autonomy/Self-expression
    • Control, growth, creativity, freedom, self-actualization, 
  • Engagement/Meaning
    • Novelty, learning, values, reason for being, sense of coherence, purpose

    Work is a vehicle for meeting some of our needs. For example work leads to compensation which helps us to secure our survival and security needs. Work can potentially give us a sense of connection with others, provide us a way to contribute, or allow us to engage and learn. Career visioning is meant to help us find work that is satisfying, that meets our needs. 

    Employment is a process that brings together a person or an organization that has needs with a person or persons who can help meet those needs and get some of their needs met in the process. So, one can see work as a negotiation between two parties, each of whom have needs that they are trying to meet. One can think of these as the criteria for each party. A criterion is a principle or standard by which something may be judged or decided.  Ideally, they find a win-win outcome. The outcome depends on many factors such as supply and demand, regulations, and other contextual and personal factors. 

    As an individual entering this negotiation, we need to be clear about what we have to offer an employer. We are seeking to leverage our assets to gain the best possible outcome. Developing a career vision helps us clarify what we have to offer and it helps us identify the type of work that is the best vehicle for meeting some of our needs.  Follow this link to discover how to develop a career vision.