Career Counseling and Professional Development

The most effective approach to career counseling begins with knowledge of ourselves we may not, as yet, be aware of.  Our methods are drawn from aptitude and creativity research to allow your career path to become clear with a minimum amount of time and energy within three major phases: Aptitude assessment, the identification of your authentic interests and values and the recognition of concrete resources to manifest your career.

Aptitude Assessments

Your aptitude profile will give you a more comprehensive understanding of your self at a root level.  We then build subsequent components of the exploration process upon this understanding.

In order to establish a grounded and fulfilling work life, we must be able to use our strongest, ‘driving’ aptitudes on a consistent basis.  These are the ones that must be used in order to experience sustainable success and fulfillment.  In terms of finding authentic fulfillment, there are few replacements for the satisfaction that comes from using our driving aptitudes.

Objective aptitude assessments identify your aptitudes and how they work in conjunction with each other. Aptitude assessments also identify your relative aptitude weaknesses and the ways they can make your life more difficult if they are not respected as such. Your aptitude profile runs like a thread through your life, influencing how you experience yourself, others and reality. What may begin as career counseling can open into the opportunity to understand yourself and your experiences from a 360-degree viewpoint, including aspects unrelated to your academic education or life at work.

Social conditioning reinforces the use of aptitudes that are the societal and statistical norm. Aptitudes reflective of this norm usually fall in the direction of relative aptitude weaknesses for most highly creative people.  As an effect of this conditioning, many highly creative people respond to aptitude tests with responses that are not authentically accurate without knowing that they are doing so, thus indirectly revealing the existence of an unhealthy adaptation in the wrong direction for their strengths analogous to a left-handed person transitioning to the use of his or her right hand.

During the assessment process we will have the opportunity to recognize where you may have made any unhealthy aptitude adaptations without knowing it.  If so, you will have the opportunity to realign yourself in the direction of your driving aptitudes.  An internalized knowledge of your aptitudes will allow you to experience the synergy that comes from the activation of your driving aptitudes while bringing awareness to your relative aptitude weaknesses.

The aptitude assessment will provide you with descriptions about yourself that will sound and feel right to you and provide you with:

  • An understanding of how and why you may have difficulty with certain academic subjects, jobs, or people, yet experience ease with others.
  • The opportunity to cross certain occupational considerations off your list with peace of mind and more fully consider other directions with greater confidence, even when they may not match the idea of what most people in your life think you ‘should’ do.
  • The significance your aptitude profile may hold for your relationships, your inner life, and situations above and beyond that of education or career.

Authentic Interests and Values

The second phase of the exploration process will assist you to link objective knowledge of your aptitudes to the identification of your interests and values.  Where aptitudes, interests and values intersect can point to a satisfying career.

When we are simply given a list of occupational titles that match our aptitude profile we can find ourselves at a loss when none of the titles seem to fit. Recommendations received from ‘outside in’ usually feel like less of a fit than those we discover from ‘inside out,’ particularly when values are left out of the equation. In a like manner, if you naturally have multiple interests and talents, to ‘just pick one thing and do it’ may preordain you to an occupational direction that will be too arbitrarily narrow to provide you with satisfaction over the long term.

Rather, we allow the ideas to come to us and note the appearance of each, singular ‘light bulb’ moment, even when a specific insight may not initially seem to make much sense.  We also allow multiple, divergent interests to appear, even when at first glance, these interests may not appear to ‘go together.’  Then, like a landscape painter, we step back, reflect and look at the emerging picture – the patterns, the ‘constellations’ that appear to us through the spontaneous connection of ideas.  The recognition of your occupational constellation will give you the greatest likelihood of housing as many of the elements you do want, under one ‘roof.’

Your occupational picture, when authentically indicated, may also allow you to recognize and live from more than one professional discipline.  Your occupational title or professional domain may even be one that does not yet, in fact, exist, since you may be the one who needs to discover it.

Resources

Once you have identified your occupational direction, you will need a practical plan to materialize your career.  Our third phase, the identification of essential resources to bring your idea from theory to actuality, will continue to build upon an inductively-led process so you can more easily recognize the best resources and act to obtain the professional materials and contacts required.

In the event an inner or outer critic attempts to discourage you from honoring your ideas, any fear, resistance or roadblocks to action you may experience can be dissolved through the use of experiential practices you will learn and make your own.  Positive expectancy, mental clarity and a more confident acceptance of your direction will then enable you to more comfortably and effectively act upon each meaningful idea and opportunity as you proceed into new territory.

As you continue to spontaneously recognize and act upon your meaningful ideas in succession, you will experience an increase in serendipity and positive synchronicities.  Thus emerges an overall theme:

Life supports our efforts to individuate.

________________________________

Professional Development

Our desire for a more fulfilling work life often requires that we take up a reflective discernment process. Toward this end, we leave ‘no stone unturned’ by working with a series of contemplative questions that will assist us to strengthen our current occupation, or allow us to leverage our interests and abilities in another, more meaningful direction.

We also expect that cooperating with our discernment process will further our individuation, no matter what the objective vocational outcome may be.  Specific questions, which can further our process include:

Why am I on this particular vocational path in the first place? Reasons that may be operative can include:

  • The identification of an objectively good path, but one that does not provide us with adequate subjective meaning to be sustainable over the long term.
  • A need for recognition, which exceeds the intrinsic enjoyment obtained from an activity for its own sake.
  • An attempt to live ‘the unlived life’ of a literal or figurative parent through a profession that is not necessarily one of our own choosing.

Are there any interior or exterior resources that are either missing from my process, or need to be upgraded to those of a higher caliber?

  • Significant interior resources may include practices such as mindfulness meditation, journaling and active imagination.
  • Significant exterior resources may include an articulate and visually inspired online presence, top-tier mentors and strong connections with a professional community.

Are there any remaining personal or professional weaknesses that can be strengthened, which continue to negatively affect my work?

A comprehensive self-inventory may reveal personal weaknesses in performance that can be effectively dealt with to improve the quality of our work right where we are without making any occupational change. Here we have the opportunity to take corrective action as needed:

  • Practice peak performance skills that allow us to increase our expressive capacities while dissipating liabilities such as writer’s block, stage fright, etc.
  • Become deeply immersed in our creative process while shifting away from a preoccupation with the success of others and the potential of our own failure.
  • Engage in activities that replenish our energy and inspiration while letting go of those that feel depleting.

Utilizing what we glean from our self-inventory, we can employ the wisdom of the Teddy Roosevelt quote: “Do what you can where you are with what you have.”

What are the specific tasks that allow me to use skill sets I enjoy within my current occupation? What meaningful themes emerge in my work? Can these themes and skill sets be experienced and expressed in other ways?

These and other similar questions can allow us to extract specific facets of current experience and reintegrate them into another direction. For example, at times our need for meaning, exploration and discovery may be satisfied by shifting our work into a different modality, one that may also free us from factors, which cannot be overcome in our present occupation, e.g., the impact of physical aging on our ability to perform in a particular role. Here we work to parlay the ‘gold’ of our original direction, into another satisfying endeavor, not a Plan B but another Plan A.

How might my unconscious be attempting to get my attention?

An inability to resolve a career issue in the direction it ‘should’ go, may be an attempt of the unconscious to have us recognize a different resolution, one that re-integrates our work in a way that breaks new professional and creative ground. Here we recognize the wisdom of working with an awareness of our unconscious rather than continuing to push harder in our original direction.

What is the ‘individuation piece?’ Life may choose my individuation over a specific career I choose. Can I cooperate? What, perhaps, is a particular question, challenge or impasse asking me to face, develop or overcome, not only in terms of the situation I am in, but within myself?

At times the deeper task may involve allowing ourselves to identify and work through a loss, or face some other reality we may have been avoiding. This task may include the opportunity to address a life-long tendency that does not serve us, for example, a procrastination habit, or any other tendency we may have continued to ‘nurture’ if we had automatically gotten what we wanted in the first place.

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, we may not get what we want, career or peace of mind, until we identify and put into action the lesson that the current challenge or impasse may be asking us to get in touch with. Along the way, we may uncover the existence of a paradox.

In the process of grappling with vocational questions and our own set of interior and exterior challenges, we may discover an ultimately more meaningful vocation, beyond that which we would have had if the vocational desire been immediately ‘answered’ in the first place. At other times, this experience may include never getting the specific career we want. On these occasions, are we willing to grieve that loss on behalf of our individuation?

How we work with questions like these can make the difference between being caught in a quagmire of doubt and finding a more satisfying vocational solution, one which provides us with growth, fulfillment and peace.