by Dan Joseph
Although I cover a wide range of issues in my counselling practice, there is one aspect that dominates my new-client inquiries: requests for help with careers.
For many of us, our work is a major part of our lives — and it exerts a profound effect on our emotions and relationships. Forty hours engaged in anything each week will have an impact on our experience of life.
Some of my career counselling clients are seeking a job. However, most already have work that they find it unfulfilling. They are spending their lives engaged in activities that feel empty. They want to use their gifts in a way that yields a greater sense of purpose.
With these clients, I usually run through common career counselling methods at first — assessment of interests, discussion of new options, assistance in writing cover letters and resumes. But with most people, I find that I need to take a deeper approach.
When a person feels like a round peg in a square career hole, it is tempting to believe that the answer lies in simply finding a better job or a new career. But I have seen people bounce from one job to another (or from one career to another) all the while continuing to feel mismatched.
As time goes on, I’m becoming convinced that the real answer to career issues lies in discovering our true purpose here — our calling. This is an inner discovery, not a worldly search.
And what is this calling? Ultimately, you could say, our calling is to discover who we really are.
Finding the Gifts
Most of us see ourselves as little people on a big planet — separate individuals competing with other individuals to get our needs met. There is a pie out there, and we need to get a bigger or better slice of it.
The whole world is designed to support this perception. Life seems to pass us by, with what we have always at risk of slipping away. We need to continually strive to get and keep the things that keep us safe. Compete, acquire, protect — this is how many people see their work lives.
But I find that the secret of career success is to shift our perception. Instead of seeing ourselves as limited creatures in need of a better situation, we can see ourselves as inspired, gifted beings empowered to improve every situation we find ourselves in.
In my practice, I frequently find myself having a conversation like this:
“I hate my job,” says my client.
“What do you hate about it?” I ask.
“Everyone is rude where I work.”
“Yeah. Everyone is mean. It’s a terrible place to work.”
“Do you think you could improve things a little?”
“Improve? In what way?”
“You seem like a kind-hearted person. Could you bring some of that kindness into your workplace?”
“Why should I have to do that? I just want to get out of there.”
“Don’t you think that your experience of work might improve if you bring some of your kindness into your office?”
“Nah, I just want out. I want to find something better.”
What that person isn’t realizing is that he’s missing an opportunity to solve his problem at the core. He feels powerless, at the mercy of his company culture. But he actually possesses a remarkable inner power — a power that can be accessed by pouring forth his gifts into the world.
As this person learns to access his spiritual gifts, and share them with the world, he will see them expand. He will increasingly access his wise mind, and will experience greater clarity and peace.
Solutions to problems will become more apparent. His vision will become clearer. He will gain greater levels of understanding. And of course, he may feel inspired to pursue new job or career opportunities — but he will be doing so from a place of inspiration.
I believe that finding our gifts within, and allowing them to flow into the world, is the purpose of our lives here. This calling allows us to see who we really are.
If you have questions about how you can improve your own work activities, I invite you to try the following process:
1. To begin, try to step back from any thoughts you have about what you need and how to get it. These thoughts (usually quite fear-based) are often the clouds that obscure the light. You might say:
I do not know what I need,
How to get it,
Or the form that it may take.
I am willing to clear and open my mind.
2. Next, turn to your wise mind — the spiritually-inspired part of your consciousness. Even if it takes some practice to “search around” for it, it’s worth the effort. You might say:
Perhaps there is a part of me that is filled with inspiration.
Perhaps a part of me has enormous gifts to share with the world.
I am willing to turn to that inspired part.
I am willing to let it guide my steps.
3. Finally (and this is often the challenging part), try to sit quietly and receptively for a while, waiting to receive guidance about a step or two to take. If your mind wanders, you can ask your wise mind:
How can I share my gifts with the world?
How can I bring joy to the world in a way that I enjoy?
How can my gifts be used today?
I am willing to receive guidance.
That’s it… If you don’t seem to “get anything” at first, the effort it still worth it. I’ve sat with clients, engaging in this type of practice for ten or twenty minutes until they began to get a “hint” of inspiration from the wise mind. But that hint grew as they practised.
I believe that there are limitless ways for you to share your gifts — and that as you share them, you will gain a greater understanding of the spiritual glory within you. This is the great healing shift. It is a shift that brings happiness not only to you, but to all those around you as well.