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Are you following your best career path?

If you’re like many people, you probably aren’t following your best career path. As highly sensitive people, it’s extremely important for us to be in a career that meets our needs, such as a comfortable, physical environment, co-workers who share our values, work that is interesting or inspiring, and a position that utilizes our strengths.

Change can be a scary thing, especially when you don’t know what you really want or where your strengths lie. So what’s does a highly sensitive person do? You could stay in a situation that’s wrong for you but pays the bills, or you could take small steps to go in a better direction.

Depending on where you are, and where you want to be, you can make subtle changes without jeopardizing your current job. You might consider trying new things in your spare time to see what fits your personality.

Focus your energies on deciding what you like and don’t like about your current and past professions. You should also take into consideration your hobbies and interests. What are your strengths, and how would you like to utilize them? It’s important to write your answers down, and refer to your list often. These are important clues to help clarify what you truly want.

I knew at age thirty that I couldn’t work for anyone and needed to be self-employed. I worked in a family business for nine years. I was unhappy and not getting along with anyone, so I knew that I needed to make a change. I decided that I would make use of my experience and expertise and start my own business in a similar field. It wasn’t easy leaving a family business and dealing with the guilt and fear of starting a new venture, but I was determined to make it work. Thirty five years later, I’m proud to say that it worked out.

People have many “careers” throughout their lifetime. Their needs and circumstances change. I’ve been working on my next career. This has been a gradual process, and I have enjoyed it tremendously. Writing has been a strength and a passion for me, and I plan to do more of it in my retirement years. My book, Making Sense of Your High Sensitivity, is about my life as a highly sensitive person and the lessons that I’ve learned. This blog is another outlet for my writing and interests.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you need to be very clear about you want to do. It might take exploring and experiencing different things before you achieve this clarity. However, once you have a clear goal and a burning desire to succeed, you’ll be amazed at the momentum and resilience that you will have! All of your experiences, good and bad, will help you. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your comfort zone, since you don’t want to let anything limit your possibilities and your potential.

Your answers, and ultimately your purpose, will come by learning as much about yourself as you can. The more you understand yourself, the better you’ll know your wants and needs. Highly sensitive people have a unique and powerful capacity for introspection. Use your deep thinking capabilities to determine a path that will be both fulfilling and perfectly suited to who you are and who you want to become!

Are you following your best career path? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mary Jane Ruffolo

    The HSP concept is very new to me, but the minute..maybe the very second…I read Shannon L. Adler’s quoted description (that begins, “Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet….”) I was thunderstruck, or gobsmacked, or…you get the idea! I had never been described so perfectly. Truly, I was completely astounded by how exactly it described me.

    I am a retired social worker. From my first job as a caseworker at the age of 21 I knew that was what I wanted to spend my life doing. About ten years later when I earned my Master’s degree in the field I remembered being counseled in high school about my aptitudes and being told social work would be a very good field for me. When I learned that a graduate degree was pretty much required, I discarded the idea. Academics were an issue for me in high school, not because of intelligence but because of problems with not being able to focus and maintain attention. And then, lo and behold, years later that’s exactly what I was doing and had accomplished.

    So I worked in social work from 1967-2002 with brief sabbaticals when I would do something like retail work for a while because my emotional energy was too drained for social work. But, I kept going back, mostly working for the government in some of the most stressful and dangerous practice settings in the field. They included child abuse and neglect investigations in urban areas and a decade in a maximum security forensic facility that provided psychiatric evaluations and treatment for those who were once called, “the criminally insane.”

    When I retired, I pretty much just collapsed. First I drank for a year, then did the rehab thing and got sober in 2003. But, I couldn’t stand to leave the house and had very little personal contact with anyone. I did very much enjoy being online and the huge world that the web opened up. It’s still how I prefer to spend my time and I still, 13 years later, pretty much avoid contact with people except for my youngest son and his children.

    Well, that was long-winded, wasn’t it? All this is leading up to a question as I continue to try to understand and accept myself…

    After seeing and reading the above article, I now wonder if I chose one of the worst fields for a Highly Sensitive Person to work in….it was something that just came naturally for me (until paperwork became such a huge issue, ADD again, probably) and it was also a door that readily opened up to me when I needed to go to work. But, did my decades in the field contribute to the weary, over-used, isolated and brittle place I find myself in now, at the age of nearly 70? I have few close relationships because I ended them…I’ve been doing that for many years…ending hurtful relationships, even with my mother, now a son, a brother, et al…and while I miss the relationships, I can’t stand the feelings that come with them being in my life.

    Oh, and I loved retail except for the paychecks!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you,

    1. Cliff Harwin

      Hi MJ,

      I’m very sorry that I haven’t responded to you sooner. I’m in the process of getting my house ready for sale and relocating 950 miles away.

      Having the right career path is an individual choice. It’s not unusual to gravitate towards a career through circumstance. You mentioned that social work came natural to you and you needed work. It sounds to me that you were very successful, but it took a lot out of you physically and emotionally. Perhaps you can take what you’ve learned to help others in a way that fits your personality.

      You don’t need to justify why you have few close relationships and end hurtful ones. It’s your personal choice. Something to think about…Why not use your knowledge of being a highly sensitive person to your advantage? You have the ability to create a life that best meets your needs. Being nearly 70 shouldn’t prevent you from doing this. I’m 65 and I feel my best years are coming!

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