What Yoga and Mindfulness can teach us about Career Clarity
Author: Candice Clark
Yoga is super trendy right now. As is mindfulness. But these ancient disciplines have core concepts which I’ve come to realize, are essential to career clarity. If you have never tried yoga, or a mindful meditation – please do! In the meantime, enjoy the points below and think on these in your next yoga session or mindfulness practice.
1) Get out of your own head
Am I the only one who sometimes feels like my mind is racing at 120 km p/h?!
It’s a mad house in there most of the time. It is very difficult for us to think clearly, let alone think about a topic as complex as “career direction” when we are completely absorbed in our inner dialogue, self-criticism and general chatter.
One of the first guiding principles in yoga and mindfulness is to release the inner dialogue and focus on our breath. It is super hard to do at first, but once you do – it is uber relaxing. The stress literally melts off your skin (PS breathing through downward dog, or eight-limb pose means you melt more than just the stress!).
Getting out of your own head, provides you with an opportunity to return back to the world and your thoughts on your career direction clearly and rejuvenated. Career clarity requires logical thought, and creativity. Finding that inner quiet within ourselves is key to the focus required to think through our career direction clearly, rationally and with a big dose of creativity.
2) Be gentle with yourself
In a mindful meditation you will often hear the teacher saying that it’s ok if your thoughts have wandered and to just gently bring them back to the breath.
When we head off down the wrong track in a career, we can waste an awful lot of energy blaming and criticizing ourselves for going off track and not making better decisions (can someone define a good career decision by the way?! No such thing, it’s all experience). We spend so much time beating ourselves up, that we then miss the right track or get back on the right track in a foul mood making us doubt where the hell we are all over again! That doesn’t feel particularly good does it?
It’s totally human to wander, to explore, to get a bit lost. In the bigger picture, it really doesn’t matter that much. Trust me. What’s important is that you notice you’ve gone off track, and you gently bring yourself back to the track that feels right to you. No blame, no self-criticism ok?
As my coach trainer always said, there is no such thing as failure – only feedback. I.e. this is not working, let’s sort it out.
3) Function over form
Instagram is blowing up at the moment with insane yoga techniques. I often wonder whether someone had to break an arm to get into that pose! I am not even half as flexible as some of the teachers on there are. But yoga does not ask me to be.
Yoga is not about form. It’s not about perfecting a pose. Yoga is about the function! What are you trying to stretch? What are you trying to strengthen?
Career clarity is no different. It’s not about being happy only once we attain the perfect career. It’s about what we need to learn about ourselves in creating a career we love. It’s about stretching our intuition, our self-awareness, our self-knowledge and our patience. It’s about using our creativity and innovation and enjoying the learning process, and all the new skills we are developing when learning how to create a career you love. It’s about understanding what got you to a place of unhappiness, and how to sharpen your tools for next time. Happiness is not a destination; I can assure you that it’s not contained in the perfect yoga pose nor the perfect career. It is contained in choosing to grow, to become better, to focus on our own development even through all the messy bits.
If we can feel fulfilled despite our circumstances? If we can learn, and love ourselves when we feel completely off track? That’s the ticket right there, my friend.
Each one of us has a unique body, and a unique set of circumstances we bring to a yoga practice. We need to adapt our practice to meet that, not adapt ourselves to meet the practice (in fact, this is often how injuries are caused).
The same thing applies to careers. Our careers need to be shaped around us, who we are. Not us around our careers. This starts with self-acceptance. Who are you at your core? What is your purpose? Once you can love that, you can accept it. Once you can accept it, and know its who you are you can shape a career around yourself.
I know being confused about a career is a very sucky place to be in. But I also know that getting real with who you are, and loving yourself through that is the key to getting back on the right track.
Start with putting an end to the self-criticism (as well as your criticism of others and your circumstances), and dive deep in getting to know yourself all over again. You are wonderful, you have unique talents and gifts to share with the world. Love the good parts of yourself, be gentle with yourself and seek out the advice of those that can support you through this process. The rest will come. Promise.