The Soul of Successful Career Change and Lives in Balance

[An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Successful Transitioning to Work You Love-- Inspiration for Those on the Path to Heart-Centered Livelihood and a Life in Balance]

  “The more deeply our work stirs imagination and corresponds to images that lie there at the bedrock of identity and fate, the more it will have soul . . . Most of us put a great deal of time into work, not only because we have to work so many hours to make a living, but because work is central to the soul’s opus.

                 -- Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

What is the soul of success? What does soul look like and feel like to you?

Since most of my work is with people seeking fulfilling work and/or lives balanced by rewarding relationships and well-being, Thomas Moore’s words stir me with a sense of wanting to know more about being soulful. When we say something has soul, like joyous music, we mean that it grabs our spirit and sings out to us.  When something feels soulless, like certain work environments, on the other hand, we have a feeling of deadness or lack of energy in its presence. 

Soul is a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world. Soul is real and tangible, and it deeply affects our ability to feel satisfied with the work and lives we create for ourselves. 

Soulfulness also involves both the dark nights and the illumination that comes from going deeply within ourselves about the changes we seek. Soul asks that we extend ourselves into all our senses, our hearts, and our minds. Soul is being vulnerable and open enough to risk making the changes we need to work and live fully-- and therefore is about creativity and change. 

When you step outside the bounds of what you have known, you must find a different radar to guide you in choosing new directions for work, relationships, or generally how to live. In my experience, it is your awareness of energy and vitality-- soul-- that is the crucial guideline. Almost invariably, my clients seeking new career directions are, underneath that, asking for work that is energizing and adds to their sense of purpose and breadth in their lives overall.

For example, Moore suggests a radically alternative way to exploring whether your career options have enough to engage you in an ongoing way. He suggests asking questions, which I’ve paraphrased below, about the “soul benefits” of different options/directions for your work, such as: 

What is the spirit of how or where I want to work?

Will I feel I’m contributing authentically as a person?

Will I have a feeling of community in how I work?

Do the people I’ll be interacting with love their work?

Is what I plan to be doing and producing worthy of my time and energy commitment? 

I knew two women-- one who had a position in a nonprofit group with me and another in a public relations firm-- who were both dissatisfied with their work in these places. However, I didn’t really understand that until they both started their own businesses and began simply radiating happiness. Then I realized how pinched, critical, and dissatisfied they’d both been while working in environments that lacked purpose and satisfaction for them. What a difference it made for them to take charge of their own professional directions, and feel they were contributing authentically and doing what was worthy of their time and energy! Like the Ugly Duckling, they blossomed in the environments appropriate to who they really were.

I’ve worked with many people who’ve come to realize that in their quest for satisfying jobs and careers, they’re really looking for what will make them feel alive and empowered for the significant amount of time and energy they will be spending at work. The connective feature among them all is clearly the desire to live and work with what energizes their spirit-- with soul! 

If you’re interested in creating a soul-ful career change with a plan for balancing your life priorities, join me for my two-part teleclass, “Successful Transitioning to Heart-Centered Livelihood and Life in Balance”-- on Wed., June 6th, and Wed., June 13th! Click here for further information and registration.