Do you ever reflect on what led you to choose mental health as a profession?
Was it those late-night talks with friends during high school crises? Or perhaps it was that counselor who helped you navigate a tough time? Maybe, like some of us, you stumbled into the field because it was the only major that seemed remotely interesting when it was time to choose a career path.
Taking a moment to reflect on what brought you here is crucial when it comes to shaping a career that truly satisfies and fulfills you.
Burnout is a familiar foe, and it often sneaks in when we're not doing the work we signed up for. Whether it's dealing with clients we don't connect with, navigating a bureaucratic maze we don't respect, or forgetting to prioritize self-care – we can find ourselves falling out of love easily.
It doesn't have to be this way.
The good news?
You can actively seek out or even create opportunities that align with your passions and your soul's calling. That So, let's break it down into some simple steps:
1. Know Your (Professional) Self: Take a moment to reconnect with why you chose this path. You've probably grown since that initial decision, so consider what drew you then and what draws you now. This is your inspiration.
2. Take Care of Your (Whole) Self: If you are not taking good care of yourself and doing your own work, you will not experience career fulfillment no matter how perfect your work situation is. Consider it this way, “wherever you go, there you are”… including in your work life. If you are unhappy in your life, that will translate into work. Be brave enough to find the true source of your unhappiness and get started on a journey towards living the life you want to live. Even if it seems overwhelming at first…take small steps towards making a difference in your personal life and your professional life will improve as well.
3. Earn More than Money:
Take an honest look at the work you do.
Do you respect the difference in people’s lives?
Does your company operate with integrity?
Are you proud of what you do AND of your coworkers?
Notice, I didn’t start this conversation with questions about how much you earn. Once your needs are met these other questions are so much more relevant. If you can’t feel good about the work you do, who you do it with or the difference you make…a few dollars pay raise won’t keep burnout at bay. True fulfillment is about building a life you can respect…from home to work and all points between.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Dream
Envision your ideal work experience without practical constraints. What would you design if you could hand-pick the perfect work experience? Let your imagination run wild. Until you can at least honestly conceive of what you would want professionally, how can you ever hope to recognize the right opportunities?
In our field, the possibilities are endless. I know mental health professionals who have fused their unique talents and interests into their work...songwriters, public speakers, nutritionists, jewelry makers, personal trainers, and more. Just like they created a space for themselves...you can too! Anything is possible!
5. Take Steps Towards Making it Happen
Now, this my friend, is where the rubber meets the road. There is a wonderful book, The War of Art by S. Pressfield, that describes the journey of creating your life’s work so beautifully. In this book, he personifies “Resistance” and continually speaks about how it can show up in your life and stand between you and the full expression of your unique professional capacity.
In building a career life that you love, there will undoubtedly be moments of challenge, uncertainty, and disappointment…but if you are on the right track there will also be excitement, inspiration, and connections with beautiful and intriguing people. Commit yourself to a path that will lead to personalized career fulfillment, your clients and the lives you will impact are waiting for you!