Creative Career Paradigms for Sensitive Souls
Jobs traditionally held by sensitive souls, like being a local doctor or schoolteacher, have changed to the point that they are no longer suitable for sensitive souls. We simply don't thrive in high-pressure, competitive, corporate, and bureaucratic environments. We are deeply affected by the culture, the environment, the social contacts, and the work itself. Though we are drawn to work that we find meaningful, we end up in despair daily about the way it is done.
Unfortunately, our society also suffers the impact of this loss. Our wisdom, insight, compassion, and depth are lacking in many professions that could greatly benefit from our input. On the other hand, as we shift, so does society: People now seek our gifts in newly emerging arenas. There are many solutions to the career challenge.
As a coach for sensitive souls, I have found that in order to thrive at work, you now have to either: 1) create your own more suitable and meaningful work; 2) find a way to do mainstream work in an alternative way; or 3) find the rare environment where you can do your work and function well. Each of these requires creativity, something sensitives are quite capable of. Remember to put your ingenuity to work on your own behalf.
Let’s consider each of these approaches:
1. Create Your Own Work
Many sensitives thrive by creating their own career paths. I'm a case in point! As a life coach and intuitive, I work from home. I create my own schedule and have a profound, positive impact on people's lives. In other words, I create my own professional culture, design my own work environment, choose who I do my work with, and set the tone for the work that I do.
For some sensitives, marketing and self-promotion are real obstacles to self-employment. If you pursue this approach, look for alternative ways to market your work that keep you comfortable. And be sure to create a plan for your transition that includes a low-stress income source to pay your bills as you go.
Another challenge for some sensitives is the need to have an entrepreneurial mindset and motivation that's balanced by a consideration your own wellbeing. Be ready to set limits and design your schedule to maximize your efforts, while leaving time for great self-care.
Examples of self-employed careers many sensitives are pursuing include: life coaching, alternative healing work such as body or energy work, virtual assisting, feng-shui consulting, pet care, creative careers like art and writing, online businesses, and spiritual and intuitive counseling.
Cheryl Richardson, coach and author of Life Makeovers, also talks about the concept of "portfolio careers," where self-employed people earn income from a number of different sources. She is a perfect example of this -- a coach who speaks, writes, and coaches. This is a wonderful way to create your own work.
2. Do Mainstream Work In An Alternative Way
Another approach that works for many sensitives is to do "mainstream" work in an alternative way. For instance, some of my clients do retail or office work, but they are happiest when they work on temporary contracts, hire out as independent contractors, job share, work part-time, or work from home. If you pursue this approach, you'll have more control over your environments, schedules, and contacts.
I love the saying, "Be in the world, but not of it." This notion speaks to this career approach perfectly. You can be detached from some of the more draining aspects of the traditional work environment while still doing work that is meaningful for you.
Examples of such careers might include freelance consulting as a graphic designer, architect, lawyer, or school counselor. You might cut back on your hours at your "mainstream" job, or find a company that prioritizes work-life balance. For example, my sensitive sister works for a pharmaceutical company that allows her to hold a full-time position where she sometimes works from home and sometimes works from her car making sales calls. She's in charge of her environment and hours, which allows her maximum flexibility.
3. Do Mainstream Work in The Rare Supportive Environment A third strategy is to find the rare physical environment where you do "mainstream" work. For example, you might still be a receptionist who works 40 hours per week, but you find work in a beautiful, serene acupuncturist's office instead of a high-pressure, busy law firm. Or you work in a retail pharmacy store, but one that offers a pleasant physical space along with benefits, sane work schedules, and a spirit of camaraderie and support. For instance, locally, I'd choose working at the alternative Elephant Pharmacy over the more mainstream Longs Drugs without question. If you choose this approach, cast a wide net and be creative in your thinking about the possibilities out there.
Also, take advantage of any available opportunities to create your own uniquely supportive environment. If you work in a cubicle with florescent lights, bring in plants, mirrors, incandescent lights, fountains, and music to create a beautiful, supportive respite from the rest of the office.
As you explore your career options, consider three choices: 1) Choosing your work wisely will help you and your sensitive nervous system to thrive; 2) Recognizing your sensitivity as a powerful guide will help you do what works best for you at work; and 3) Thinking creatively is the best way to solve career challenges.
May you find the solo career, alternative approach, or rare environment to make your career work for you.
Trust Your Vibes at Work, and Let Them Work For You, by Sonia Choquette
Sonia's book is filled with strategies to bring your intuition into work. Her techniques are deceptively simple, but profound when studied closely. It's a must-read for sensitive souls, whether self-employed or working in the mainstream work world.
Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger
This is a terrific book on incorporating Myers-Briggs personality aspects into career choices.
Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person, by Barrie S. Jaeger
This is a deeply enlightening look at work and careers from the highly sensitive person's perspective. Highly recommended.