Welcome to week 4 of my series on creating an intentional career! We’ve already done a lot so far. In the first week, we reviewed what it means to create an intentional career and why it might be important for you. Then, we looked at how and why you can discover the core feelings in your heart that can guide you toward your intentional career. Most recently, I explained how time tracking is a critical part of discovering what your intentional career might be.
Today, we’ll be exploring what might be to some a surprising element of discovering and creating an intentional career: physical space.
Space and energy clearing is one of the practices I’ve introduced to myself in the past few years that has, perhaps counterintuitively, made the most difference to me in living and working intentionally.
So in this post, we are going to be focusing on clearing space to let intuition come in. And we are going to be focusing on it in two areas: your inner world and your outer one.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled for a long time (and perhaps still do) with knowing exactly what you want in your career. In fact, this may be one of the biggest reasons you’ve come to realize you haven’t been creating your career intentionally — you couldn’t tune into what you wanted, you didn’t trust it, or you were afraid of stating it, so you let other people or circumstances make a decision for you.
This is more common than you may realize, especially if you’re a caring, sensitive person. It is often easier to attune to what other people want and make our decisions off of that instead of making the space in our minds and hearts to drop into what our inner voice is trying to tell us. Having spent so long attuned to others’ needs and desires, we also may be afraid to finally hear what that inner voice, or intuition, is telling us, because it may run counter to others’ expectations or requests of us.
But unless we make the space to get better acquainted with that voice and honor it, we will continue to work in the careers that others — whether our loved ones or random circumstances — decide for us.
That’s where this week’s practice comes in.
I am encouraging you to do 15 minutes of stream-of-consciousness journaling and 5 minutes of meditation after that journaling each day this next week.
Stream-of-consciousness journaling is a tool popularized (at least in America) by Julia Cameron, author of the seminal and incredible guide to creative recovery, “The Artist’s Way.” She calls this practice Morning Pages. And it is exactly what they sound like: You simply write, pen to paper, for 15 minutes straight. You write anything and everything that comes up. If nothing comes up, write, “I’ve been assigned this practice by this lady on GovLoop and I have no idea what to say and this is really weird…” and see what comes from there. (Something will come from there.)
Traditionally, this kind of journaling is done first thing in the morning, but if you absolutely cannot make this happen in the morning, don’t let that be a roadblock. Do the 20-minute practice at any time of the day, morning, afternoon or night.
As Cameron explains, “There is no wrong way to do this — they are not high art. They aren’t even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind, and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not overthink them.”
So, set your timer for 15 minutes, use your journal, and each day this week, write. Afterward, find a quiet place, sit, breathing slowly, set another timer for 5 minutes, and meditate. In silence. Your thoughts will be all over the place, especially if you have never meditated before. Allow that.
In my silent meditation practice, I simply count to 10 over and over again. Inevitably, even after years of meditating, by around count 3, I have already forgotten to count because I started thinking about something. I then simply notice the thought, release it and start over at 1. Don’t fear or overcomplicate these practices. (Though, it will feel normal to fear or want to overcomplicate them.) Simply block out 20 minutes daily this week, sit down and go for it.
These practices will help you get reacquainted with your intuition, your inner thoughts, your desires, yourself. They are space clearing practices for the mind and the heart, critical to allowing the elements of what you want in an intentional career decided by you to come through.
Next, we get into the actual clearing of physical space.
I want you to declutter and tidy 1) the physical space in which you work (at this point, that may be your dining room table) and 2) any electronic tools you use associated with your work (computer files, your inbox, etc).
I’m a huge believer in decluttering and creating nourishing physical surroundings as part of creating an intentional career for a few reasons:
- One, I believe in energy (in this case with physical settings, you may have heard of feng shui) and if your office or workspaces are cluttered, energy cannot flow productively to nourish and inspire you.
- Two, even if you don’t believe in energy flow, you probably understand that your environment affects your mood.
- Three, if your mind is overtaken by the stress of a chaotic or messy work environment, it leaves little room for intuition or motivation to come in.
- Four, finally, I think there is nothing more impactful in showing yourself that you have agency and the capability to make decisions in your life than deciding how you want your physical surroundings to be. You absolutely have that power. I love this quote from feng shui practitioner Megan James Wallace: “Clutter tells the universe that you have more than enough, and to not send any more, for it has no place to live. Clutter is the manifestation of unmade decisions. You invite in clarity and prosperity when you begin to make those unmade decisions by clearing the piles out of your home.” (Or workspace, as this case may be.)
Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to full-on Marie Kondo literally everything in your house. But I’d like you to consider, what does the space where you work look like? And what do your electronic spaces look like? Are they each organized, calm, logical, tidied? What does your computer desktop look like? Your phone screen? Do you have apps you can delete? Your Google Drive? Email inbox? Do these electronic spaces make you feel motivated and assured when you look at them, or overwhelmed and discouraged?
So enjoy this week of clearing space in your mind, your heart and your work environment. You might be surprised at what comes up and what comes in — and that’s the point. You’ll be well on your way to listening to your intuition to help you develop your intentional career when you do these practices to leave room for insights and ideas to come. Good luck!
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.