In my career coaching work with professionals, I often hear the same complaints:
- “I don’t know what I want.”
- “I feel like I’m missing something.”
- “I’m just not happy!”
At some point, we all experience these feelings at work. We hunger for something more. It’s what keeps us moving forward, growing, and striving for the next goal. The problem comes when you just don’t know what that next step is or how to take it, so you end up dwelling on your current frustrations.
My career philosophy—and really, my LIFE philosophy—is that everything works together. When we’re unhappy professionally, it impacts us personally, and vice versa. So, when we’re looking at career fulfillment and how to achieve it, we have to think holistically. In order to experience a truly nourishing career, we have to explore all the ways in which our work affects us—mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually.
To some people, this sounds strange. “What does my career have to do with spirituality?” they wonder. The truth is: a lot more than you might think. A nourishing career is fulfilling on every level – that includes the deeper, internal levels we often don’t associate directly with work.
Understanding Your Career Needs
Many people think of work as something that fulfills their physical needs — it gives them a paycheck, which provides food and shelter. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, it also fulfills some portion of their mental and social needs. It challenges them a little and makes them feel like part of a group. These are, what I consider, the “lower level” career needs: the things that, when missing, are noticeable and painful. But simply having them isn’t enough to motivate us. By themselves, these things aren’t truly fulfilling.
Few people think about the deeper potential of work—the real, soulful fulfillment—until they realize they simply aren’t happy and they can’t figure out why.
The spiritual component is often what’s missing. Now, this isn’t a religious idea. When I say “spiritual,” I’m simply referring to “the needs of the spirit.” These can be broken down into five key areas:
A career that’s truly nourishing, feeds these five areas as well as the lower level needs. What that means, however, is different for every person. We all have a different understanding of what makes us feel purposeful and powerful. We all require a different level of passion and participation, just like we all have different needs when it comes to physical, mental, and social comfort. Simply put, finding career fulfillment is a unique process for each individual.
While I work one-on-one with people to guide them through this process, I’ve also created a brief mini-workbook that will help anyone better understand these concepts and evaluate what’s working (and what’s not) in their career. I’m currently offering this workbook for free and I encourage you to take advantage. Download this PDF and go through the exercises. As you do, you’ll begin to get a better understanding of what a nourishing career looks like for you and how you can go about creating that vision for yourself.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
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