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Do You Have a Wellness Approach or a Disease Approach to Your Career?



As I've continued to work on the issues of career resilience, developing the model and thinking about how the patterns of resilience play out, one area I've been thinking about is how our overall mindset about our careers shapes our ideas about resilience. 

In working with people, I find that they have two ways of thinking about their work lives. 

The first mindset is what I've come to call the "Disease Model." This is where people don't take very good care of themselves or their careers. They engage in the career equivalents of all the high risk behaviors we associate with poor health--bad eating habits, no exercise, lots of stress, smoking, drinking too much, etc. When it comes to their careers, this means doing things like not setting personal career goals, not focusing on their own professional development, forming networks that benefit their companies, but not them, etc. 

The people who take this approach seem to operate with the idea that if they "get sick" (e.g. lose their jobs or end up miserable in their work), they will deal with that when it happens.  They seem to believe that there's nothing they can do to prevent these events or to at least minimize their effects.

Then, when they are in crisis,  they are looking for the quick fix at that point. What pill can they take? What surgery can they have? Lifestyle change doesn't really enter into it. It's "fix the problem and then let's get back to business as usual."

The other mindset I see is one that's more Wellness-based. These individuals recognize that they can forego a lot of the problems of poor career health by taking better care of themselves all the time, rather than just when they get "sick." They see career health as something that you work at on a consistent basis, not something that you take for granted or abuse by engaging in bad career habits. 

In other words, rather than looking for the quick fix when things go wrong, these people are focused on creating a lifestyle that maximizes their career health. 

These are two fundamentally different approaches to thinking about your career. The "Disease Model" is less empowered, more focused on quick fixes and, ultimately, more likely to result in poor career health in the long-term. 

The "Wellness" model, on the other hand, assumes that you can engage in healthy habits that maximize your health and that make it less likely that you will encounter serious health issues. And if you do experience a serious health problem, you're in better shape to deal with it. This is a more empowered and long-term mindset. 

What's very clear to me is that the resilience model of career development--building the patterns of Clarifying, Connecting, Creating and Coping on a consistent basis--requires people to have a wellness-based approach toward their careers. People caught up in the Disease Model will not be attracted to Resilience strategies because they require a commitment to developing a healthy career lifestyle. There are no quick fixes here.  

So, which approach do you have to your career management and development? The Disease-based approach or the Wellness approach? 



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