Opening Your Heart

Finding Soul in Career Transitions

Today I spent some time reading from a favorite book of mine, Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.  Moore-- a psychotherapist, writer, and former Catholic monk-- claims that “fulfilling work, rewarding relationships, personal power, and relief from symptoms [physical and emotional] are all gifts of the soul.” 

          Since most of my work is with people seeking fulfilling work and/or lives balanced by rewarding relationships and well-being, his 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 lives that we create for ourselves. 

            In coaching, this sense of energy and vitality is crucial as a guideline to choosing new directions for work, relationships, or generally how to live.  As Moore says, “[Care of the soul] is not to make life problem-free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness . . . It has to do with cultivating a richly expressive and meaningful life at home and in society.”  Almost invariably, my clients seeking new career directions are, underneath that, asking for work that has meaning for them and adds to their sense of purpose 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 the following questions about the “soul benefits” of particular jobs: 

  • What is the spirit of this workplace?
  • Will I be treated as a person?
  • Is there a feeling of community?
  • Do people here love their work?
  • Is what we are doing and producing worthy of my commitment and long hours? 

            I’ve worked and talked 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 in the significant amount of time and energy they’d need to spend working.  An architect wants to build and manage a jazz club and restaurant.  A former engineer has become an emergency medical technician.  A former government employee is planning actual and virtual city tours to offer as part of his retirement.  The connective feature among them all is clearly the desire to live and work with soul! 

Please Join in the Conversation! 

  • What are some “gifts of the soul” that you’ve experienced in your life?
  •  What would you risk to find work with soul?
  • How can you bring soul to a current career transition?

Bringing It All Back Home-- A Traveler’s Perspective

Since my return from my trip to Europe recently, I’ve been thinking about what it is to be a traveler.  Not a tourist out to see only certain sights, but someone open to new discoveries, new interactions, new ways of being.  Open to change-- and to being changed.  The essence, in fact, of someone who’s doing coaching or considering it!

            Right now, I’m really enjoying the book, Travels with Odysseus by Michael Goldberg.  Using the classic Greek explorer, Odysseus, as a man whose voyage home after the Trojan Wars becomes fraught with unplanned detours and unusual encounters with guides and provocateurs, Goldberg looks at what it means to be a “traveler”:

           “Since ancient times, The Odyssey has been known as the journey that each one of us . . . must take to return Home, to who we really are and what we are supposed to become.”

             When we really travel and engage our deeper self with our outer experiences, we begin to learn what really matters in our lives.  We find guidance in others we meet along the way who connect us to our heart’s longings.  This, in turn, leads us to how we wish to live and what is meaningful for us to do in our time here on the planet.  Again, this is the essence of the coaching experience.

             In my upcoming, 2-part tele-class, “Coaching 101-- How to Make Career & Life Changes That Matter!”, I’ll be helping people experience what it’s like to create professional and personal changes they truly desire through the “engaged traveling” process of coaching.  If you’re interested, please click on this link--  If you have any questions, please contact me at

                       PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES--

          What does does it take to be an “engaged traveler” in your life?

       • What new perspectives or changes have opened for you by taking a new path in your life?

Career Change in Stockholm

I’m visiting in Stockholm this week where my elder goddaughter, Andrea, age 29, is living.  Last year, she made a momentous career decision that took her to this city to live and work.  Having just graduated with her master’s degree in architecture in the Swedish city of Gothenborg, she decided that the real work she wanted to do in her life was to be a doctor!  She did well on her medical exams and is now a student at the renowned Karolinska School of Medicine in Stockholm.

    Her decision amazed me at first, but when I considered the matter, I could see how well-suited she was for becoming a wonderful physician.  Both medicine and architecture, as she pointed out, require an understanding of the interaction of systems.  As a doctor, however, her focus would be on giving to and enhancing people’s lives.  For a person like she is, who truly loves to help people, medicine gives her a means to that kind of fulfillment at a professional level.  

     Though she would’ve made a fine architect, it’s very wonderful to see her blossoming as she follows the passion that is truly hers.  Though she regrets sometimes not having started studying medicine at age 20, she also feels that she brings valuable life experience to becoming a doctor with her other work, some years of travel, and lots of experience interacting with a wide range of people.

     The lesson-- It’s never to late to go for what really matters to you, with work, relationships, and creative goals!

     Are you considering a career change in your life?  What motivates you to this?  What holds you back?  What is a step you can take now to explore this possibility?

Let the Beauty You Love Be What You Do!

“Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened.  Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

--Jelaluddin Rumi

I love this poem by the Sufi spiritual master, Rumi, for the beauty of his words and images-- and for the eloquence with which he expresses our movement from habitual acts to transformative action.  This is what I love, too, about doing life coaching, and watching the people I work with blossom with the joy of self-discovery as they create the changes that really matter to them in their careers and lives.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.”  The wake-up call-- it’s time to stop settling for less and go for “the beauty we love” in our lives.  What is it that we really want?  What is it that we are ready to put all our heart, energy, and passion into now?  How do we really want contribute to the world, to our families, to our personal dreams?What is the “beauty” that feeds our souls and frees us to forward to where we feel fulfilled?

We all have had the experience of “waking up empty and frightened” of losing what is important to ourselves, of not expressing our true selves in some way, of dying without having lived fulfilled.

The key thing is to not go back to the old habits, not just to “begin reading”-- but to step past our fears into a leap forward that may well feel radical.  “Take down a musical instrument” and follow the the unknown songs and sounds that emerge to new realms that free you to be yourself!