An Integrative and Existential Perspective on Work and Career Development

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

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

Integrative and 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.

  • Leading OUR lives with Inner Consent

    10/09/2021

    How well do we lead our lives?

    In the many conversations I have with clients, I frequently hear them express some of the following: “I do not feel any joy in my work”, “I cannot relate to my work”, "I feel like I am pretending to like what I do", “I do not feel like I have any mastery over what I am doing”, “What I am doing is meaningless”, “I am never asked for my opinion, input or perspective”, “this job loss makes me feel as though I have no say in my life, no control over my life”.

    These feelings and experiences can cause us to feel alienated from our work and disconnected from our personal capacity to direct, decide, and lead our lives. When we feel disconnected from the work we do, when we no longer feel a personal connection to our work, and when we do not feel the purpose and value of what we are doing, we can feel frustrated. This frustration can in turn exhaust us. Increasing stress and burnout are two examples of the trajectory from disconnection to frustration to exhaustion. Job loss and career/life transitions are equally challenging experiences where we may feel that we have little or no control over our lives. We do not feel that we are personally leading our lives.

    Our internal compass - leading our lives with Inner Consent

    In Existential Coaching we speak of Inner Consent. Inner Consent simply put is a personally felt “yes”! Inner Consent is an internal affirmation or experienced “rightness” (not perfection!). “I can stand behind this decision I have made, this direction I have chosen to take in my life". "This activity that I am engaged in corresponds with me, it resonates with me, with my capacities, it resonates with my internal compass". "I am the one behind my decisions and actions". “I am leading my decisions and actions”

    When we feel more fully present, when we feel more connected to and engaged with our actions, when we feel we can stand behind our choices and decisions, we experience this internal "yes". When we feel we are in concert with our sense of self, with our feelings, with our experiences and our values, we experience this internal "yes". Inner Consent is being mindful of what resonates within “me”: “I feel the value of the work I do”, "I feel connected to my capacities and skills and feel the value of how I work“, "I feel myself present and engaged in my life, in my relationships and in my work”, "I fully accept the choices and decisions I have made". “I am the primary leader of my life”.

    Inner Consent is an important area to explore with clients, especially those experiencing the challenges of a career transition, those feeling disconnected from their work and careers, and those experiencing daily, unmanageable stress. Exploratory, reflective and compassionate conversation helps clients to deepen both their awareness of and their perspective on what they are currently experiencing in their lives. This supportive process opens-up possibilities for a client. Empowered by possibilities that resonate specifically with their lives, clients are able to identify and re-connect with those areas, both big or small, where they do experience Inner Consent. “I do lead my life in these areas…”

    Experiencing Inner Consent

    When we experience Inner Consent, we feel connected to the decisions we make, the actions we take and the commitments we make to others and to our work. “I lead my life through my convictions, my capacities and my commitments”.

    When we experience Inner Consent, we have the capacity to look both reflectively and realistically at our expectations, our beliefs, our behaviour, and our choices: “I accept that I cannot do everything”. We may, for example, feel tired or disappointed with our work: “I had a heavy work load today, but I feel good about the work I accomplished”, “I did what was possible at work today and I feel good about that”. “I lead my life with perspective and self-compassion”.

    When we experience inner consent, we are both open to and accepting of our own limitations or the limitations of a specific situation/context at work. But we can also put these limitations in perspective, we can contemplate and put into action alternate possibilities, outright change, even attitudinal shifts. All of this exercises our capacity to better attune to our experiences, really feel our "personal position". This helps us participate more openly with the world around us, contribute our unique abilities. “I lead my life with acceptance and openness”.

    Living with Inner Consent enables us to lead our lives with personally constructed and appropriate decisions and actions. This is especially important during periods of great change, transition, stress or uncertainty. To know that we still lead our lives, that we still decide for our lives, can help to guide us through uncertain transitions.

    Inner consent enables us to feel more grounded in ourselves.  We recognize ourselves. We feel authentic. We experience a sense of personal integrity. We feel more fully present in our lives, in our relationships, and the wider world around us. We feel and can identify the meaning, purpose and value of our work.

    When we live with Inner Consent, we experience fulfillment in our lives.

    “I lead my life”.

    How well do you lead your life? I help my clients discover inner consent and create personally empowered approaches to career transition, stress and burnout, and the building of resilient career paths. To book a consultation call please contact me at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca I look forward to hearing from you.

     

  • Is It Okay To Feel Stuck?

    10/09/2021

    I hear this question frequently when clients contact me. This question is often accompanied by the belief that everyone else seems to know exactly what they want to do, that they have taken all the right steps and have chosen "wisely" in terms of career.

    The perception that everyone else has landed their ideal job or is comfortably settled in a "successful" career for the duration of their working lives is quite common.

    In reality, feeling stuck over career choices and career development post high school and post University/College is common. Feeling stuck when we are not fulfilled in our careers/jobs is in fact common. Feeling stuck when we are mid-career and we are facing a career transition (chosen or forced upon us) is increasingly common. And feeling stuck when we have reached retirement age and unsure as to how we can continue being engaged is also common.

    Is it okay to feel stuck? Yes!

    • It reminds us that the natural movement of our lives includes contemplating new possibilities, weighing choices, making decisions and shifting direction.

    • It nudges us to take pause, take stalk of our experiences and what we value, and to bring fresh perspective to our capacities, expertise and our growth.

    • It provides the space to acknowledge the different stages of our lives and to leverage the different versions of ourselves throughout our working lives. 

    • It gives us the opportunity to reflect on our definitions of meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling work and how these change throughout our lives.

    • It gives us a moment to ask ourselves: "what do I want to be involved in right now"? "what is my unique value at this stage in my work/professional life"? "what would I like to develop further at this point in my life"? "how do I want to contribute going forward"?

    Taking some time to discover what we are experiencing when we are stuck, deepens our self-awareness, helps us gather information and gain perspective on our present lives. Taking pause to reflect helps us to accept the movement of our lives. It helps to remind us that we are actively and creatively engaged in our life-long relationship with work. And it helps us to weigh choices and make decisions we can stand behind.

    Feeling stuck? Contact Britt-Mari at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca for more information on how an integrative and existential approach to career counseling can assist you in moving forward.