Written by Ashley Josephine Herzberger
Have you ever felt pressure to pursue your career or business just because you’re good at it? In fact, most people would tell you that you’re nuts if you DON’T apply your natural strengths and talents to your career.
Too many of us painstakingly search for a job in our designated career field after college out of guilt, however painful it may be to go through the search process and however grim the prospects look. The idea of paying for 4+ years of schooling only to get a job in a completely different field seems a ludicrous waste.
When we do score a gig, we’re so elated and grateful to be making a paycheck that we forget to check in with how we actually feel about the job. A few years later it becomes evident that we are not, in fact, enjoying what we’re good at.
The thing is, being good isn’t good enough.
Beware the Easy Trap
Being the best doesn’t even cut it. Chasing after only what you’re good at — without an equal pursuit of joy, happiness and fulfillment — will just leave you feeling beat up, stressed out, burnt out and sad.
Many of us like to do what we’re good at simply because we’re good at it and it comes easy. But too many of us aren’t fulfilled on a deeper mental, emotional and spiritual level by the things that we’ve learned to become good at.
Being good at something can be learned. Loving must be felt.
Yes, there’s a difference.
Quarter life crises are all too common these days, and I actually think it’s a good thing we’re having them. Mid- and quarter-life crises exist because we wake up one day and tune into how we feel. We realize we feel like crap and decide to do something about it. Better it happens at your quarter life; you just saved yourself from 25 years of zombification.
How to Feel Your Way Through Your Career
Refusing to feel, running away from what you feel, or ignoring what you feel will only increase what and how much you feel when your feelings overflow.
Feeling is scary. I get it. It takes incredible courage.
It takes a lot of balls to realize that after developing and perfecting your skills to meet your “lifelong” dreams of becoming a magazine journalist or a PR goddess, after $100,000 of college education to prepare you for this exact career, you decide to become a yoga instructor.
Believe me, I haven’t just “been” there – I am the yoga instructor with two degrees in English and Journalism. I am the girl who tried my best to love the traditional career options that allowed me to write all day long because that is what I’m good at. But it didn’t fulfill me. In fact, it frustrated me, drove me crazy and led to anxiety attacks and physical stress-induced pain at the age of 21!
At a certain point, I just had to stop believing that the grueling “climb to the top” was “the way” for me. I decided my health and happiness — my life — is more important than getting to the top of a career that I don’t enjoy.
5 Ways to Check in With How You’re Feeling
For those of you who have spent a lot of time, effort, energy and money into being really good at something and yet you’re still not satisfied, consider the following exercises to reacquaint yourself with how you feel.
1. Find Tension — Where are you holding tension in your body? Are you always asking for back rubs from your partner or do you experience chronic pain in a particular area of the body? Without getting too metaphysical on you, just become aware of where you carry all your tension. Then, as you do your work, pay attention to when the tension shows up in your consciousness. This will tell you what activities really stress you out.
2. Breathe — How are you breathing? Are you a deep belly breather or do you keep all your breath up in your chest, restricting the flow of oxygen to your entire body? Once a day, take 10 really deep breaths from the pit of your belly to open up space in the body to feel. Many of us have spent our entire lives moving away from feeling and in the process have cut off our ability to feel in most of our body. Start to retrain yourself by focusing on the breath.
3. Meditate — Meditation doesn’t have to be formal. Take 1-5 minutes a day to sit quietly and notice what you’re thinking about. Is there a particular thought that just won’t go away? Reference #1 above and pay attention to how you feel when you have these thoughts.
4. Write — Write about your dreams and goals. Are you taking the steps necessary to meet them? What are your thought patterns around your dreams and goals? Do you think they’re unreachable? Why? Do they scare you? That’s a good thing. What is one thing you can do today to start making your dreams and goals a reality?
5. Stop doing what you’re good at — Try something new. You don’t have to up and quit your job – it can be as small as taking a painting class or a yoga workshop. You might suck at it. That’s okay. Another reason why we continue to do what we’re good at is because this ensures little chance for failure. No one likes to fail, but it’s the most useful thing that can happen to you in your life if you pick yourself back up, soak up some learning and move on. Stepping away from what you’re good at and opening up yourself to failure will take you far.
We all get stuck in the game of life sometimes. Most of us will turn to what we’re good at to get us through, when in actuality it’s very likely that what you’re good at is what got you stuck in the first place.
If you’re ready to move forward, to get unstuck, to actually feel good, fulfilled and in love with the work you do, start to feel your way through. Get out of your head and into your body. There’s some wisdom in there waiting to be discovered.
More About Ashley
Ashley Josephine Herzberger teaches women how to become healthier & wealthier in their busy lives. She integrates her experiences as a yoga instructor, online business owner, social media marketing specialist and Air Force partner to empower women to redefine and rediscover balance in their work and lives. She recently published her first ebook “The Unconventional Beginner’s Guide to Yoga,” available for free download on her website.