You may be going through a career transition: Post education, loss or change in your job, or taking action because longterm burnout in your current role is no longer maintainable. Perhaps you are also weighing out the age old dilemma between seeking fun and meaningful work vs. the wisdom of the last generation saying to strategize what brings in the most dollars. What all these forks in the road have in common is the need for answers that come from a sound and meaningful place.
But how do we get there? Through aptitude and personality interest questionnaires? Pros and cons lists? Will the right counsellor tell us what to pursue? I have found over the years that there is really one core question worth asking:
Who am I and what do I want?
In reality, most people form their career paths unconsciously. Untreated wounds from earlier life lead people to (a) pursue status and money to boost self-image and ‘prove them wrong,’ (b) we pursue convenient and easy access work so that we can stay numb to feelings that scare us and to avoid being challenged or (c) we pursue half-baked ideas from our disconnected ‘Peter Pan’ fantasies, ungrounded in safe and practical reality.
But who are you really?
The sort of career-counselling we do around Thrive does not measure your skills and talents. We find these yard-sticks actually distract us from the greater task of searching inwards, releasing old pain and discovering our long-frozen desires that lead us to our highest development. You are more than you think you are, and being that full self requires some courage.
Our process of looking at this means directing you out of your long-suffering thoughts and endless mental chatter. We instead direct the focus to what your all but forgotten body is saying. Most often, it first needs to catch up with all the signals you have ignored (this isn’t your fault—you have done your best to work around pain that felt too big to deal with in the midst of a stressful world). It will say, I am tired. I am so sad and no one listens. Will you notice how much I need your love and care? Can you make decisions that make me feel safe and healthy?
People often cry at this point, in a combination of grief at finally acknowledging backlogged pain, but also in spectacular relief that there is another way of existing. An exit door to constant ‘pushing through’ and ‘looking on the bright side.’ This may be messy work, but we cannot let in joy, purpose, motivation and inspiration unless we first empty out chronic stress.
Next, people start to report spontaneous feelings of lightness. I found myself drawing pictures the other night. I haven’t done this since I was a kid or I told my friends I was struggling and they didn’t laugh. They actually said they’ve been feeling down as well.
The proper energies of the nervous system are flowing again and with this, the emotional signalling that is the seat of identity may be accessed. We can now reach the deeper signals that not only tell you what you want to make for dinner, but what you want to do for a living. Life becomes less of a logical measurement contest and more of easeful listening to what your body says. It is like having the wisest consultant on your team. As someone who spent eight years in chronic burnout, but who now has learned to listen, I can say the latter is better in every respect.
Is pursuing work based on desire practical?
Is burning out for a paycheque practical? You have a handful of decades on an earth in which no human has ever said I wish I’d worked more and was dying with more money on their deathbed.
Tropes aside, there is absolutely no amount of money worth living through life with a burned out nervous system. From this place, relationships, personal health and even career itself suffer. Anxiety, depression, relationship issues and triggering of attachment trauma.
Joseph Campbell said follow your bliss, and from here doors will appear where there were only walls. Whether you explain it mystically or scientifically, a nervous system that is engaged with the dopamine-stimulating momentum of following meaningful goal is one that better accesses its creative centres. It is a body that rests better, is more emotionally available, and that feels guided by a self that cares for its wellbeing.
The greatest career investment is clearing out the cobwebs, connecting to ones emotional motivation and making the decision that work needs to stimulate wellbeing.
To explore this more today, connect with us for individual counselling or low cost counselling—both of which featuring counsellors trained and prepared to help you know yourself deeper and make a plan to move forward.