Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally is a challenge at any stage of life and career. You may have already had to tackle this challenge when you lost a job, became obsolete in your field, or just needed a new level of challenge in your work-life. But what do you do when you’re called to make the deeper kind of shift that occurs when you begin craving work that feeds your soul at a whole new level? This shift requires you to learn how to reinvent yourself professionally, with spiritual insight.
At this point in life you might find that the importance of what you do for your livelihood is overshadowed by the importance of your own well-being. Sometimes this feels like, “What once worked for me no longer works.” At other times, it feels like, “The work I used to love feels less interesting, if not outright out of alignment with who I am!” However it manifests for you, this need to connect with a deeper meaning will halt you in your tracks.
When people work with me during this phase of their development, they are frequently at a loss as to how to proceed. Their craving to have more rewarding work may not coincide with a knowledge of what that is, or even a desire to make the switch to this new way of being. It can take time to do the necessary and challenging work to figure out how to reinvent yourself professionally so that your work aligns with the needs of your body, mind, and spirit.
Responding to the next calling of your personal development requires fresh acknowledgement of what is now most important to you. It also requires that you do the work to become the person who can have that “next level” experience. Adapted from the words of the spiritually wise, here are some suggestions on how to reinvent yourself professionally.
“Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, water we drink and places where we recreate.” — Mark Udall
The physical health of our bodies is essential to our overall wellbeing. This means being attentive not only to the food we eat, but also to the health of the environments that we frequent. If we work in a toxic environment, eventually it rubs off on us. If we sit all day, we eventually pay the price of that habit. The worst culprits are work environments that are emotionally toxic. Whether it is the people in these environments or the emotional price we need to pay to do the work, emotionally toxicity is a slow poison to your wellbeing.
Taking care of yourself in a holistic way means no longer settling for what is unhealthy. It requires that we become more aware of the effects that each part of our life has on us. This process can initially seem to increase, rather than decrease, the discomfort of being in these environments, but what is really happening is that we are fully noticing the toxicity that always surrounded us.
“But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.” — Anita Roddick
The myth of the entrepreneur tells us that with ingenuity and hard work we can create riches. This dream, and the benefits mentioned in the last Roddick quote, might make entrepreneurship seem like the answer to your prayers for balance and time. And for some, it is. And for some, working for themselves is in fact a dream come true. But for most, the spiritual satisfaction we are looking for in our work is not answered solely by taking the path of entrepreneurship.
Instead of riches, let’s focus on satisfaction. Roddick tells us that if you can do something that you are good at, skilled at, and “earn a living,” the life you want will be yours. This is not the dream of untold wealth, this is the dream of dream satisfaction. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but when you approach your work with the goal in mind solely of profit then you may miss some things along the way. If, on the other hand, you approach your work with pleasure and satisfaction as the goal, then your financial rewards will be that much richer.
“A man without ethics is a beast loosed upon this world.” — Albert Camus
Too often I have heard people diminished the impact of the unethical choices that they have been encouraged to make in service of their career. Ethics, in our current complex world, can indeed be quite challenging to hold onto. Ethical dilemmas are posed by the simplest components of what makes our job – Who built those desks you work on, and were they fairly paid? Are you using recycled paper, and do you recycle in your office? – and they continue all the way through to larger issues of race, gender and power.
If you are looking to start a new chapter in your life you will be aided by examining where you are drawing your ethical lines at this particular juncture. Once you’ve drawn this map, it will be easier to turn away from any options that are not in line with your ethical beliefs at this time.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
For many, a lifetime of fitting ourselves into the form of other people’s wants breaks on the floor as we enter into this period of desire for deeper nourishment by our work. Some of us got degrees, careers, and accolades that were less about what we loved and more about what we felt the world needed from us. Some of us kept trying to find what the world was looking for in hope that we might be happy with it. This was not an effective strategy when we employed it at the start of our careers, and it is not an effective strategy for moving forward.
Learn what it is the lights you up. Whatever it is that truly makes you happy, when followed, will lead you in the direction of deep satisfaction. If you are unclear about how it will translate into your work, let that go for a moment and see if you can embrace the process of enjoying what you do. It will educate you about next steps, in one way or another.
We must not rest until right livelihood is within reach of every human being upon this earth we love and cherish. We all have a role to play in achieving this goal. — Agnivesh
Finally, think of what a world we would have if everyone was engaged in meaningful work that did not harm others or the planet. I sometimes struggle to image that world, but I know it would be amazing.
By taking steps in the direction of loving what you do and by approaching your work holistically you are moving the needle in this important direction for yourself and for others.
Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally with spiritual insight begins with learning how to ground yourself spiritually and create the space for yourself to grow.