Strength Training

This week’s trek is inspired by the research of University of Pennsylvania Professor Martin Seligman on positive psychology and the science of well-being.

Do you feel disengaged at work from time-to-time?

According to research by Seligman, when someone's work doesn't focus on their strengths, they tend to feel less engaged in what they're doing. 

In addition, his research has shown that when you know your strengths and are able to re-craft your work and hobbies around them, you are able to boost your overall sense of happiness. More specifically, he found that when individuals focus on four or more of their character strengths (see Seligman's VIA survey for more on those), they are more likely to refer to their job as a calling rather than just a job.

Introducing Your Strength Training Exercise

What It Is
A way to realign your daily activities around your strengths to boost your sense of engagement at work and in your personal life.

Why We Love It 
When we don't feel motivated, we sometimes assume it's because we have to make a major change in our lives. Sometimes, big change is necessary. Other times, we'd benefit greatly by simply restructuring situations to better utilize our own strengths and passions. This exercise focuses on the latter, helping us remember the small things we can do to feel more engaged in our day-to-day.

How It Works

1. Take 10 minutes to list out your core strengths. If this is something you feel unclear about, check out Via's Character Strengths test (it's quick, free and based on Seligman's research).

2. Next, make a list of your current job responsibilities. Include hard skills like “managing projects” and “analyzing data” in addition to those just as important soft skills like “motivating a team” or “listening to and empathizing with clients.”

3. Then, make a list of your hobbies, side hustles, and personal projects you have going on right now. This can be stuff like cooking, writing, or making pottery; list whatever you're into as long as you are actually doing those things each week.

4. Now, take your list in #1 and compare it to the items in #2 and #3. Which of your strengths are present and which are not? How many strengths are present at work versus your personal life?

5. Pick one strength that isn’t getting as much love and find a way to incorporate it into your schedule this week. For example, let's say mentoring is one of your strengths. You might join an advisory committee at work. Or let’s say humor is a strength of yours (
not kidding, humor counts!). Try cracking a joke at the beginning or end of each meeting you have this week.

6. At the end of the week, take stock of how things went. How did focusing on one of your strengths relate to your sense of motivation? How did it relate to your emotional state this week? 
Want to dig deeper? 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"I liked the Empathy Ladder trek and found it to be versatile in a variety of settings. I found it helpful when communicating with my spouse to increase mutual understanding, connecting with people upon a first introduction, and interacting with my clients, co-workers, and supervisors at school."

- Jaclyn Valla-Rawlins, Social Worker
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Shankar Desai