We are all far more than simply what we do for work. However, if we choose work that is congruent with our unique abilities and highest self, our career can be a pivotal aspect of our psycho-spiritual journey towards growth and development.
Like many therapists, I came into this work as a result of my own family-of-origin challenges, which blessed me with gifts of psychological awareness, empathy, and relational abilities. My work as a therapist has been intellectually, emotionally and spiritually rewarding.
As a business owner, I have been through various highs and lows that have stretched and pushed me further than I ever imagined, both personally and professionally. I have come to understand that the ebbs and flows of my work success are a direct reflection of the evolution of my consciousness.
As I evolve, my life’s work blossoms and vice versa. If I am well, I am best able to help my clients and my business prospers. If I am not well (because of succumbing to fear, self-doubt, uncertainty, etc.), I can not do my best work with my clients and my business does not thrive as it could. For this reason, personal work (through therapy, recovery, meditation, self-care, etc.) are important aspects of pursuing your life’s mission.
Whether you are a teacher, a healthcare provider, a salesperson, a technologist, at tradesperson, or a stay-at-home parent, your job provides a service that is one part of what makes the world go round. In order to maximize the psycho-spiritual growth potential of your work, your job must be aligned with the highest good of self and others—and to the greatest extent possible. In other words, your unique abilities must be matched with a need in the world so that you can be part of movement towards health, balance and wellness for all.
For some, aligning their work with their life’s mission requires some shifts to be made (like changing jobs or fields.) In this case, I recommend considering therapy or career counseling. For others, it involves developing a greater awareness of how their work impacts their psychological, relational and spiritual development—and engaging in that process more consciously.
For all, I recommend the following to shift your career from just a job into your life’s work:
Identify your unique abilities. Reflect on how your personal and professional experiences have shaped and molded you into who you are. Recognize the skills and talents you posses and write down the top three (i.e. mine are insight, communication and leadership.)
Identify your values. Reflect on what is most meaningful to you in life. Perhaps it is nature or the environment, education, empowerment, etc. Write down your top three values (i.e. mine are spirituality, psychological awareness and interpersonal connection.)
Identify where your niche meets a need. Are your unique abilities being utilized to their potential in a way that is aligned with your values? If not, get creative. Look at services, companies or organizations that are aligned with your values that could use your unique abilities. Or, consider an entrepreneurial adventure to meet this need (i.e. I recognized a lack of therapists in Chicagoland that accepted insurance, so started an insurance-friendly therapy practice, Urban Balance.)
Develop a vision. Imagine you have a magic wand and think through where you would like to be professionally in 2, 5 or 10 years. Aim high. Understand you have the ability to make your mission come to fruition.
Plug into your network. People come into our lives for a reason. Reflect on the lessons being taught to you by your interactions with your boss, your colleagues, your clients your customers, etc. Tap into your network (or spiritual web of people) and seek those who will help you grow, such as a wise mentor or consultant.
Work on yourself. We are all works in progress. I believe we can all benefit from therapy, counseling or coaching at different points in our lives. Nurture all aspects of yourself, mind/body/spirit. Practice self-care, self-compassion and self-love.
Understand setbacks are life lessons. Hardships are opportunities for growth. Instead of viewing career setbacks such as unemployment or stagnation as negative experiences, reframe them as learning opportunities that the universe is presenting to you. Reflect and get realigned with your highest plan.
Finally, make a commitment to yourself and to your life’s mission. I believe success is to live life openly, authentically, and lovingly in a way that is aligned with the highest good of self and others. And, I wish you great success!