What occupations are meaningful to you?

NZAOTWelcome to Meaningful occupations, a blog set up by the New Zealand Association of Occuptional Therapists  to ask the question: “What are the world’s most meaningful occupations?”

To an occupational therapist, an occupation is not just what you are employed to do.  Occupations are all the things that you do – these activities help express who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you connect with others. 

So, if occupation is everything you do, such as – driving a car, cooking, caring for yourself or others, a hobby, a sport, a paid job, or something you do for relaxation – then everyone will have a number of occupations that are meaningful to them.

What about you?  What are your favourite occupations?  What occupation would you miss if you couldn’t do it any more?

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14 Comments on “What occupations are meaningful to you?”

  1. adiemusfree Says:

    It’s GREAT to see this up and running. You can tell one of my favourite occupations is scanning the internet, as well as writing my blog! I’d miss my photography very much if I couldn’t do it any more, and I’d be saddened if I lost my parenting occupation – in all its phases.
    Thanks for putting this together Dael!


  2. Being beside, near or in the sea, swiming, floating, chatting, fossicking (for shells on the beach), walking, looking, breathing in the fresh salt sea air are all important ‘occupations’. My new office has a 10% window on the waterfront – what bliss.


  3. Couldn’t do without reading … have to have a small pile of choices beside me – even a page will do …

  4. Tracey Partridge Says:

    Some of my favorite occupations are very simple and are quite solitary such as first waking up and being greeted by a sunny day, or going for a beach walk and watching the waves crash upon the sand, or cooking dinner while watching a beautiful sunset outside my window. I would hate to live somewhere where you had 24 hours of daylight, or 24 hour of darkness.
    My other joyful occupations are spending time with my family, having a laugh or game with them, such as playing petanque, spot light, speed scrabble. I love spending time with my family and thats why I do not work full time.Sharing a joke with family or freinds is always a winner because it makes me feel so happy.
    Watching babies and toddlers be amazed with their abilities and surrounding is also wonderful, and since becoming a dog owner, watching my puppy charge around, experience the sea for the first time and look so happy to see her family even when we have only been gone for 5 minutes is also a delight.
    Finally, having success at work is also very rewarding, connecting with a person, seeing that progress is being made and stopping intervention after successfully helping someone recover from their injury is always satisfying.

  5. Trisha Egan Says:

    I couldn’t survive with any happiness without a bit of dirt to scratch in. Everywhere I’ve lived, regardless of climate I’ve tried to make a garden. Sometimes it’s about improving the aesthetic of the place I’m living, or in benevolent climates growing food. I recall growing 3 beans one year because that was all that could be easily hidden from a landlord who didn’t approve of tenants digging up the existing weeds. At another place that I owned I planted around 250 native trees to encourage wildlife to stay in the area.
    Even on the coldest most miserable day, it’s usual for me to take even a short walk in my garden, pull a weed out, talk to a plant or two.

  6. Jane Says:

    My favorite occupation is gardening, and all the activities that go with this. I enjoy seeing the change of seasons in the garden, at present i am enjoying the autum colors of my deciduios trees. My favorite tool of the moment is my new chainsaw, and i have been pruning and shaping trees with it recently.

  7. Lindahw Says:

    I have two or three occupations that,depending on who I am doing them for, can increase in their meaningfulness.
    I am a good cook and I like baking, especially for a particular event when I know that I am going to be for example contributing banana and chocolate chip muffins to morning tea, or making ginger crunch for somebody who particularly really likes my recipe for ginger crunch (which has pistachios in the base!).
    I also like making paper boxes. In the first stage of this I transform sheets of plain white paper by using acrylic paints or tissue or other texturing materials to make the paper that I want to go with the particular box I am planning to make. I love thinking about it, planning it, and then creating the right colour and the right texture for the person I have in mind as recipient.
    I do not have any images of this from the computer that I am posting this on at the moment but I will return and see if I can add a file later. Linda

  8. Merrolee Says:

    Hmmm so many occupations to chose from and looking at what has been posted so far – I can just about identify with them all – what would I really be lost without – my bike, my books and my online world! And without a doubt my family – just being together, laughing, giving each other a hardtime, talking about what the adult children and their partners are doing, thinking, planning!

  9. Kara Says:

    I am asked to answer this question in my personal statement for OT graduate school. I have lots of occupations, including reading books, spending time with my friends and family, going to school, working with disabled people and spending time with my dog. I’m a little unsure about what “meaningful occupation” of mine I should talk about. Any ideas or suggestions?

  10. Carolyn Says:

    The things you discover on the NZAOT site!! Great blog.

    I often find inspiration in what many great occupational therapy scholars write. I summarised this from Dr Kirk Reed’s article based on his doctroal study – I guess its a matter of looking into your heart as Kirk suggests to find what is most meaningful.

    “The meaning of occupation shows itself … in what matters most … what matters most is what we care about and what concerns us … this reveals itself in the occupations we choose or choose not to engage in … the meaning of occupation is therefore at the heart of who we are … meaning is circumstantial and is shaped by the dynamics of the interaction and interplay between people, competing demands and possibilities.” Source: Reed,K., Hocking & Smythe, 2010.

    Do read the article: The Interconnected Meanings of Occupation: The Call, Being-With, Possibilities. Journal of Occupational Science Vol17 (3), August 2010, 140-149.

    When I think of what Kirk has written I think of what sits at the heart of ‘who I am’ or rather ‘who I see myself to be’ (this has changed over time as I have “grown up” over the years). Right now – central are two things – my role as an occupational therapist and how much being an occupational therapist means to me … and the importance of my child and what being a parent means to me. I would miss those two things the most. I also think about my role as educator/coach/supervisor and the occupation of “growing others” (is that an occupation?) and how much I love seeing this growth happen … I think about the playful things I like to do – like hanging out with good friends; or spending time naval gazing about practice; or eating good food and savouring a nice glass of wine (or latte) – these occupations symbolise quality of life, time out and relaxation. I like gardening, but would not miss it, nor would I miss housework so they are meaningful only in as much as I like having a clean, organised house and garden I guess – so I don’t place high value on personally doing this. I’d like to place value on physical fitness activities but then my actions belie this so therefore I must accept I don’t choose this to be meaningful … but I guess I could.

    It’s interesting to reflect on this from a personal perspective. How much do we truly delve into ‘meaning’ and lost occupations with clients … or do we make assumptions?

  11. Red L Says:

    This is a fantastic blog.

  12. Red L Says:

    This is a fantastic blog. I am a second year OT student, and I am tempted to say that studying to become an OT is an occupation in itself that I am passionate about. I love this profession, I love the learning! I love the personal and professional development, I love the encouragement and inpiring lecturers at Otago. I love going that little bit further to try and grasp a concept.

    Another occupation that I couldn’t live without is journalling; the freedom of thought and the process of discovery that usually follows is a large part of what makes me, me.

    I enjoy simple things. I enjoy walking alone along the harbour down on the peninsula, I enjoy reading a good book, I enjoy writing and posting letters to family overseas, I enjoy the small moments with family or friends where you have a cup of tea and you sit together and don’t need to speak; you’re just being.

    I enjoy and appreciate classical, neo classical and celtic music. I like to learn melodies of such music on my harp, I love to compose new music.

    It is so interesting, without myself doing the above occupations, I really couldn’t call myself me! They are meaningful in a way that has become part of who I am.

  13. Cara Tate Says:

    I’m Cara Tate, a 3rd Year Occupational therapy student, studying through Otago Polytechnic yet @ Hamilton Rotokauri Wintec. I have completed a blog titled Meaningful occupations support the well-being of our retired generation. Not only is this a requirement for the course Transition to Practice but it is also an area that I have always been passionate about; meaningful occupations support our well-being!
    Please use the link and take a look. Comments are welcome!

    http://meaningfuloccwellbeing.blogspot.co.nz/

  14. Jill Judson Says:

    This is a great blog Cara.Thanks to NZAOT for signalling it to me.

    I am an O.T. working with older, often retired people and meaningful engagement in occupations of their choice is something I try to offer during their stay in hospital. Cooking is often a particular favourite. I find their stories amazing and often quite inspiring.People have done such wonderful things during their lifetimes! I loved reading about the couple you talked to.

    As for what is meaningful to me personally, that has to be my relationships with my husband and two adult children and maintaining the cohesion of our family unit. Their welfare is my number one concern and supporting them can involve quite a bit of travelling and organising. This has impacted and been influential in my career, requiring me to make some changes in what i do and how much time I devote to O.T.in order to remain balanced and available to be supportive.

    I love my garden and grow lots of roses and am busy raising quite a few fruit trees too. I like to use the fruit to make jams, jellies and chutneys and i also make pot pouree with all the dried rose petals. I like to press flowers and send them overseas in letters to my older relatives.I still have some flowers from my Dunedin days sitting in an old Dunedin telephone book where i file them. I am very fond of Dunedin.

    I enjoy being in rural New Zealand most weekends and just doing very simple things like sitting by the fireside and reading my book or enjoying a glass of local wine as i flick through my gardening mags making plans for next season.I knit silly tea cosies during the winter too and have quite a collection which tend to make people laugh which is a great occupation to share with others!

    Thanks Cara and good luck with the studies.Becoming an OT was a fantastic career move for me which i have never regretted.I love my work.I hope you do too.


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