Making a Meaningful Living (Embodied mapping)

Exploring your own future of work

Stephen Sillett presented the July 18th workshop to explore the meaning of work through the Map of Meaningful Life. The purpose and meaning of work is an ongoing question and inquiry that is constantly in our experience in a postmodern society. When the purposes of work have changed, the rewards or benefits from the hustle are either uninteresting or unattainable, the roadmaps to success have totally changed.

And in the last few years, the occupational ecology has completely changed, for the most radical transition since the industrial age became an information economy. The future and foresight of work life in the Fourth Industrial Revolution was an obsession with futurists not long ago. But I think we mostly missed how bad this transition would feel even to those prepared for it. In fact, while the “4IR” is not even visibly apparent in the economy, the dystopia associated with it has enveloped most of us in some ways. The prevalence of depression and nihilism is now obvious and enveloping. And the most worrying trends, rather than being economic, have been more cultural and sociopolitical. People have recognized a suffering from a loss of meaning in their lives, as dubbed the meaning crisis. In the modern world of the 20th century, one’s work was a stable identity and many kept a career for a lifetime. Modernism also held the promise of constant progress, and that progress was real for our parents. But now for many work, certainly a job, no longer holds an easy validation of personal meaning in a world that has no shared societal future direction. With Strong AI threatening to relieve even creative occupations of human employment, the next few years at least will see the angst of foreclosing potential occupations that might become sidelined or obsolete.

About the Session

The Map of Meaningful Life and Work was presented in a physically surrounding interactive environment in the Great Hall of OCAD University’s main building. The 2D tool of the framework has been used for years as a process for exploring how we assign meaning and personal value priorities in our work and commitments. It can be recruited as a powerful sensemaking tool for individuals and in collaborative experiences, such as a DwD workshop to learn from collective wisdom. Our purpose in the DwD session was not to answer questions or find meaning in our life’s work in one session. Rather we aimed to open some inner doors through a reflective practice, and to listen and be present to each other’s learning and search. Stephen’s facilitation led a collective conversation and sensing together of the possibility of the meaning of how and why we work, an embodied process to experience the meaning of work in our self-expression and service to others.

About Stephen

Stephen has been engaged in Design with Dialogue for nearly 10 years and has co-hosted many sessions. He co-founded Aiding Dramatic Change in Development, a non-profit organization that co-creates inspirational experiences, enabling people to influence and transform the world around them. Stephen is currently conducting practice-based research on scaling multi-scale development approaches. This research involves creative spatial activities at a deep level, community embedded teams at a local level, and InFusion Labs at a broader level.

If interested in experiencing more Active Meaning Sessions, Clean Language Training, or other Creative Spatial Approaches to Coaching and Psycho-education, please contact Stephen at