What Feelings Have to Do With Creating an Intentional Career

Last week, we discussed what it means to create an intentional career: a career where you are proactive. A career where you make values-based goals and decisions. A career based on your vision and self-knowledge. A career that you created, not one that you simply float into. 

As I wrote last week, an intentional career is in opposition to an organic career. An organic career looks like taking job opportunities as they pop up, rather than being more strategic and proactive.

How do you know you’re struggling in an unintentional career and might be ready to create an intentional one?

Some ideas:

  • You’ve always followed the straight and narrow and the path has always been pretty clear ahead of you and what steps to take – and now it’s not
  • You’ve started to dread going to work
  • You’re aware you want something new but have no idea where to start
  • You are beginning to realize you chose your career path based on the goals or expectations of somebody else

So if you’re ready to begin the process of intentional career planning, where do you start? In my opinion, you don’t start with a resume, networking or acquiring new skills.

You start with feeling.

Why are feelings important when it comes to creating an intentional career?

Because we, as humans, think we want things and experiences. We believe the salary or the title or the corner office or the list of goals is what makes a complete life.

But what we’re really chasing in our pursuit of those things or experiences is simple: it’s a feeling.

We hope a salary will make us feel secure. We hope a promotion will make us feel confident. We think working in a particular field may make us feel respected. We believe a particular kind of assignment might make us feel freedom.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing feelings through these things. In fact, to me, that is certainly part of an intentional life.

But what if you are going after jobs in a field that requires constant traveling and meetings when your core feeling you actually desire is groundedness and nourished? What if you chase after a big job with a big salary — and all the 50-hour+ work weeks and time at the office that come along with it — and it turns out your core feeling you desire is freedom and spontaneity?

So if we want to create a truly intentional career, it follows that we must first understand the core feelings we are looking to experience in our day-to-day jobs.

How do we want to feel when we get to work in the morning? Energized? Calm? Purposeful? Grateful?

How do we want to feel when we close our laptops at the end of the day? Nourished? Certain? Connected? Grounded?

What will the greatest feeling you experience during your day-to-day be?

So how do we discover those feelings?

I’ve got a couple of ways forward: a guided meditation and journaling exercise.

Listen to this feelings meditation. Afterward, come up with a list of five important “feelings” words — the five words you most want to frequently feel in your intentional career. 

Sit with those feelings, and list them out in your journal. Answer these prompts:

  • What is my definition of each of those feelings?
  • When in my past jobs did I experience any of these feelings?
  • What kind of career or job might allow me to experience these feelings more regularly?

Don’t overthink these journaling prompts; just write freely whatever comes to mind.

I call these feelings we’re looking for “core feelings” — the deep motivating emotions and senses that, whether we know it or not, drive all that we do. And now that you have a sense of your core feelings that you want in your job, you’re well on your way to beginning to create your intentional career. 

I’d love to hear in the comments: What core feelings came up for you? What did you learn from journaling around these core feelings?

Next week, we’ll explore how you’re currently spending time at your current job, and what that activity has to do with creating a more intentional career going forward.

Catherine Andrews is an author, teacher, coach, and expert in intentional living who works with clients to mindfully and authentically design a life that reflects all of their potential, dreams, desires and capabilities. She is the author and host of The Sunday Soother, a newsletter, podcast and community dedicated to authentic living and compassionate personal growth. She lives in Washington, D.C., and holds a bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. Before becoming a teacher and coach she spent nearly 20 years in communications and journalism, and she still believes the stories we tell about ourselves and others are our greatest assets. You can find her on Instagram here.

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