The noted author and interviewer Studs Terkel once observed that people aren't looking for a job, but rather for a calling, since jobs aren't big enough for people. This activity is designed (1) to help you identify where you stand on a number of major life issues and (2) to help you explore whether these "fit" with the major commitments you have assumed in your personal and work life.
In our view, the "big picture" issues of who you are and what you believe deserve careful reflection. And if these issues have true meaning to you, then many of the other day-by-day issues in your life will take care of themselves over time. If, on the other hand, these issues do not have true meaning and importance for you, then you run the risk of experiencing existential stress, of having the felt sense that you're not really at home in your own skin.
Take a few moments now, follow the directions and reflection prompts below, and begin your thoughtful self-assessment.
First, print the table (this page or the printer friendly version). Second, cut out each cell. Third, sort the cells from most to least important.
feel a strong sense of mutual connection with family,
friends, your work, a cause, etc.
have a felt sense of personal power in your own life
have opportunities in your work and/or personal life
to create new and original ideas, concepts, programs,
To have ongoing opportunities in your
life for personal growth and development
be actively involved in maintaining and enhancing your
have freedom of thought and action in your personal
and work life
structure your life in a way which affords you enough
leisure time and/or a preferred lifestyle
To enjoy life
live life in harmony with a personally meaningful ethical
code or set of principles
contribute to the betterment of the life of others
be connected with an integrating positive force in
the universe (God, higher power, consciousness, nature
engage in endeavors, paid or unpaid, which are satisfying
to self and of benefit to society
that you have finished your initial sort, here's a quick way
to double-check that they truly reflect your priorities.
at the LAST item on your list, then pretend that we're
going to steal it from you forever. Do the same in turn
for all the other items on the list, working from the bottom
your rearranged list is accurate for you at this point
in time, then the general life issues of absolutely most
importance to you are the ones you want to protect most
strongly, and which therefore need to be at the top of
After you have completed sorting, reflect on what your responses mean to you. That is, why are the items at the top of your list important to you? What clusters of items are related? And, perhaps most importantly, do your behaviors indeed reflect what you say is important?
To follow up on that last question, consider this: as an experiment, just look at the top 3 or 4 items on your sorted list. Since these are the items you have identified as most important to you, answer the following questions: in the last week, to what extent have these issues been an important part of my daily living? In the last month, to what extent have these issues been an important part of my daily living? Over the past several months, to what extent have these issues been an important part of my daily living?