An Existential Perspective on Work and Career Development

Existential career counseling assists and supports clients in exploring and reflecting upon the direction, purpose and meaning of their lives and their work.

Existential career counseling helps clients to deepen their awareness and perspective, to feel more connected to their experiences, their emotions, and their relationships.

Existential career counseling guides clients towards being more fully present in their daily lives and to feel more authentic and confident in their decisions, choices and actions.

  • Connect Personally With Your Career Goals

    02/25/2020

    We have become obsessively goal-oriented and this is particularly the case with career goals. Are we personally connected to our goals or merely striving for goals for goals’ sake?

    Losing sight of the personal process and personal values that bring our goal(s) to life

    Career goals can frequently take on a life of their own. I often hear the words, “I should have a goal…” preceding many conversations I have with clients. I hear this when clients express feeling completely stuck and indecisive about a career choice or a career path.

    Feeling that we should have a clearly defined goal when it comes to career is not the same thing as creating a goal that is personally relevant, personally defined and personally valuable. Having a goal for goals' sake can disconnect us from the personal process that brings our goal(s) to life.

    When our focus, our expectations, our sense of self-worth, our internal narratives about success, progress or fulfillment are heavily focused on one intractable career goal, we can lose sight of the present moment and our living engagement in the personal process that brings our careers and goal(s) to life.

    When we live for goals that are primarily fueled by extrinsic motivation – social acceptance, recognition, respect, money, career advancement, self-esteem – we lose our personal connection, our personal involvement, motivation and striving. We lose the personal meaning of the process itself. 

    We also lose the felt experience of personal engagement, we lose the ability to feel the value of what we are doing, we lose the insights we gain from what we are learning and how our expertise progresses and expands in our day to day work.

    When we are fully engaged in our choices and decisions we have the capacity to create and re-create goals that are personally relevant to our lives.

    When we are personally connected to the process of our lives, our goal(s) become feasible and meaningful by-products of that same process.

    How can we stay personally connected to our goals?

    • Define personally and as descriptively as possible what career means, what fulfilling work means, even what success mean, to YOU at this stage in your life.
    • Connect the many experiences you have had and discover the common thread(s) between them. What would you like to experience and develop further?
    • Be open and receptive to discovering yourself and your abilities in the present moment. Note and appreciate something that you have learned in the past few months or how a particular experience may have changed your perspective.
    • Take the time for reflective practice and be aware of the experiences you have on a daily basis.
    • Understand what you are feeling and how you experience your life throughout the course of a day.
    • Take the time to connect with the relationships and conversations around you every day. Feel the value of these relationships. Observe yourself in these relationships.
    • Engage, participate and contribute to your community, a course of study you are enrolled in, the job you currently have or the broader issues in the world that interest you. Connect with your opinions, attitudes, beliefs and actions.

    These examples of reflective practice offer a great deal of personal information and help us to be connected to the present moment and actively and attentively engaged in the process of our lives. This is information that helps us to make decisions that resonate with who we are and give us the ability to take actions that we can confidently and comfortably move forward with. This is information that enables us realistically and imaginatively to mark out what is possible going forward. This information helps us to assess, construct, manage and navigate the many “small step” goals that we can accomplish daily. And finally, this is information that helps us to shift, adapt or re-design exciting new goals that we are personally connected to, if-and-when necessary.

    Britt-Mari is an integrative career counselor with an extensive background in existential psychology, career counseling and teaching. She helps clients create personally empowered career goals. To inquire about customized 3 session coaching packages please contact her at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca

     

  • The Increasing Desire for Fulfilling Work

    The Desire for Fulfilling Work

    02/25/2020

    As a career counselor, I have witnessed the increasing desire for fulfilling work amongst my clients. Fulfillment is at the top of their “want” list in career development, for those experiencing career transitions or for those who are navigating and stepping through burnout.

    The prioritizing of fulfillment as a personal criterion for work has emerged in conjunction with the pronounced shifts we are witnessing in the job market worldwide. These shifts include the increase in contractual employment, the emergence of the ‘gig’ economy, changes to the types of jobs that are available, increasing underemployment, and the reality of career transition(s) during one’s lifetime.

    While financial stability and self-sufficiency are obvious and necessary criteria for work and career, the instability that has been created by these pronounced shifts in the job market has pushed fulfillment to a prominent spot.

    As we reconceptualize how we work, how we experience work, and the value and meaning that work has for us, the desire to have work that is personally fulfilling takes more precedence. Further, work that is experienced as personally fulfilling is perceived as balancing or evening out the career adaptations and changes we are expected to absorb.

    Career fulfillment is personally defined

    What makes our work fulfilling? What are some of the factors we consider? More importantly, what do we expect or assume we will experience in order to define work as fulfilling?

    Fulfillment does not have one convenient or generic definition. How fulfillment is experienced, defined and acted on is personal, contextual and fluid.

    We increasingly want the work we do to be an extension of self-expression and to reflect the on-going development of our identity and capacities. We may want to make a personal mark of unique talent and skill on the world around us. Ideally, we would like the freedom to make career choices that are guided by our values and interests, and therefore experience the work we do as meaningful.

    Career fulfillment is often experienced as:

    • a correspondence or congruence between what we are doing – the actual job/task at hand – and our personal aspirations. We feel energized, engaged by what we do. We feel “alive”.
    • a sense of authenticity - we recognize ourselves and our unique capacities in the work we do
    • a certain freedom to make decisions regarding our lives and the work we choose to do
    • a personal sense of purpose and meaning in what we are doing
    • relatedness – we enjoy and participate in the collegial relationships around us
    • contribution and belongingness - we feel connected to the world and we feel we have a place in the world

    The question of fulfillment changes the conversation in career counseling

    The desire for fulfilling work has also had an impact on the types of conversations clients wish to have in career counseling. These conversations are increasingly experiential.

    A client’s reflections on and experiences of fulfillment in relation to work and career options can profoundly influence the direction, outcome and value of career counseling for that client.

    Such experiential questions deserve attention. Through exploratory dialogue, we can provide the time and space for clients to examine, discover and bring perspective to:

    • how they personally define fulfilling work
    • how they assign meaning and value to their experiences of work
    • how they work
    • what unique expertise have they developed from their experiences

    The content of these experiential conversations deepens awareness and perspective on these personal experiences and definitions of fulfillment. This helps both client and counselor to better understand the assumptions, expectations and desires the client has about career and work from the perspective of personal fulfillment. These conversations help to reveal what is possible, what actions a client and counselor can collaboratively map out and what decisions can be made.

    Britt-Mari helps clients to explore the meaning of personal fulfillment during career transitions, burnout and career development. She is an integrative career counselor with an extensive background in existential psychology, career counseling and teaching. To book an initial 20-minute conversation contact her at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca