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The Soul Of Work | Ingraining Your Work Into Your DNA

A person sitting in an art studio.

Does this describe you?: You’re not sure if your purpose and your work are aligned. You feel disconnected from your resume and cover letter…not wanting to sell yourself, but not entirely clear on what story you want to tell about yourself, either. Or perhaps you stare at your computer blankly, unsure of where to start.

Often idealists can get frustrated by some part of the job search, career transition, or general goal setting, but they just can't figure out what it is that gets them stuck. This disconnect often happens because we tend to dramatically separate our careers from what makes us feel the most grounded. It's as if we are showing up to work in a persona, one aspect of us. This approach to work may have many wonderful qualities and strengths, but what if you were to find a way to reconnect your work with what makes you feel alive?

If you feel lost, underwhelmed, or like you are just being one part of yourself in your career, you may want to reconnect to what I call, the soul of work. The soul of work is alive when you feel connected to your passion and purpose and when your work evokes emotion.

If you aren’t feeling that, here are a few ways to get back to the soul of work.

Consider a career retreat

That old saying, “where there is a will, there is a way” can serve us well when we want to connect our soul to work. Regaining the meaning of the work through a regular career retreat day can keep us moving toward deeper connection in our lives and work.

What is a career retreat day, you ask? I regularly coach my clients on setting time aside regularly, once a year if your feeling mostly satisfied with your career – more often if your in transition, to take a career retreat day. I know entrepreneurs who call it a CEO day. Whatever you want to call it, make sure you block the time on your calendar before everything else gets packed in.

Set aside a chunk of time, at least four to six hours. Go to where your heart swells, you feel inspired, and you can get centered. Do yoga, go hiking, bake, sing and dance. Do whatever it is that makes you feel alive and back in the flow of life. Then explore your plans and dreams while taking note of any recent signs or synchronicity present in your life. You might journal or record yourself speaking to keep a copy that you can refer back to.

From this space, look over your resume and cover letter, rethink how you might approach an interview, or think about your next career move. At this point we can often start to think about a timeline, which might be helpful in planning, but keep in mind that time and space are relative. You might just decide to trust the rhythm of life and set a clear intention for your work going forward. Your intention is a clear, simple statement that articulates what you want to achieve in your career---something you can repeat to yourself when you get discouraged. I put mine on a post it note somewhere I will see it each day. How can you stay in touch with heart of your work?

Think about how you want to feel

Think about the last time you felt amazing. Energized. Happy. Blissful. Where were you? What were you doing? How can you bring that feeling of connection to your work?

We can be really disconnected from what makes our life meaningful and what we do in our work. Our task is to identify those times we feel amazing in our life and how we might reconnect that to our work. Danielle LaPorte has an awesome tool for uncovering your core-desired feelings and living your life from that place. Check out the Desire Map and get your desired feelings sorted out.

Of course, how we want to feel can change. So a regular inventory of your states of being is required if you want to navigate the possible pathways, or shift in a new direction. Start with your retreat day and identify how you want to feel and the types of support you need to include in the next 6-12 months to get your soul back to work, and play!

You might realize that working with a career coach could help you build a soul map for your career, one that incorporates how you want to feel. If you already feel pretty clear about what you need, it could help to find a friend that you can share your goals and plan with. Just a simple check in is sometimes all we need to stay on track. How can you check in with your desired feelings?

Reexamine how you start your day

Like a good breakfast for our physical self, how we start our day energetically and spiritually matter. If we run out the door, hop in the car, and show up scattered, it affects every other moment of our day and leaves a lasting impression. If you want to seem grounded, you gotta get grounded. If you want that glow you feel after a great yoga class, you gotta do the yoga. If you want to be clear headed and focused, you gotta get clear and focused. I think you get the point...

The five-minute rule is the best thing I know. The five-minute rule tells us that sometimes starting is the hardest part. Especially with a big project, because you have to start many times before you will reach the finish line. The soul of work is a big project, one that can require a lifetime of practice and dedication to yourself. The best way to find your way back to soul is to find the simplest way you can reconnect to your highest, best self and then do that each day.

For me, no matter what my projects are, if I don’t get grounded I could be flying around all day and not end up working on the most important things. So my rule is to have at least five minutes of meditation every morning. Sometimes it turns into 20, sometimes it's four minutes 59 seconds. This sets me up for success and then my to do list doesn’t seem so daunting when I remember the meaning behind the tasks! With my dissertation proposal I’m working on building in a new five-minute rule to free write on my topic each day. What can you do in just five minutes that can reconnect you to the soul of work?

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About the Author: Audra Miller, MSc, is the Career & Community Engagement Manager at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Audra coaches changemakers, dogooders, and idealists to align with the career they were born to do, filled with purpose and soul. Learn more at:

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