By Pelagia Bhebhe
Many scholars view spirituality as distinctly tied to religiousness and define spirituality as the relationship an individual has with a higher power or powers. In general, others define this term as a search for meaning in the pursuit of highest human potential.
In this case, spirituality entails striving to attain or achieve a goal. Still other scholars consider spirituality a general life force that serves to guide one’s decision making and ways of living. Although definitions vary, their commonality is that spirituality, unlike religiousness, tends to be considered unique, individualized, and adaptable. It is likely that no two individuals’ spirituality would be exactly alike, that it may vary within and across cultures, that the degree it influences one’s life would greatly vary, and that many more people would claim to be spiritual than religious. Recent large-scale studies have found that 40% of people report following religious teachings in everyday life, while 80% report an interest in spirituality and 83% believe in the sacredness of life. Research has shown that regardless of the precise definition, spirituality can have a large impact on one’s life, including one’s career.
The study of spirituality in general has recently burgeoned, and in turn additional investigations have begun to explore how spirituality relates to careers and work. A series of theoretical models have been proposed that link spirituality and career development, and each model emphasizes that individuals’ spirituality should be considered in their decision-making process as it may be a critical component of their self-concept. A minimal amount of empirical research has also been completed, addressing the connections between spirituality and specific career-related variables. For example, researchers have found that college students who had greater spiritual awareness or a strong spiritual presence in their lives reported higher career decision self-efficacy and career choice commitment. For working adults, indices of spiritual well-being have been tied to greater job satisfaction. Other qualitative studies with college students and adults have found that spiritual individuals report a greater desire to serve others, that they feel more supported during career-related struggles, and that they are more likely to view their career as a calling. What this theoretical and empirical work suggests is that spirituality may be inexplicably linked to interest and value development, decision making, and coping in all stages of the career process. This notion may be especially important for career counselors who work with clients in helping them both make career decisions and cope with the world of work.