Sensitive souls (including introverts, highly sensitive persons [HSPs], and people with big hearts) need to be careful about our work environments and career paths. We can really thrive and excel in the right environment, and we can wilt easily in the wrong environment.
If you have a yuck feeling about work, I bet it is because the work itself or the work culture are a bad match for you. You have so much to offer. Yes, YOU. The world needs your gifts. I mean it. You can find a better fit. Not overnight, but a better way is possible.
I’ve tried all kinds of work environments from classrooms to cubicles, and many kinds of careers, and now I have landed happily with being a self-employed coach.
In those various work experiences, sometimes I felt alive and energized and sometimes completely drained and MISERABLE. Oh I can feel the bad memories in my body as I write this. I want to reach out to you if you’re feeling that misery and beg you to believe it can be different.
I’ve studied what factors work for me and what works for others with a similar temperament. Now I can fairly easily tell you what is important for us in choosing our work environments and career paths. Work can feel great, really! I’ll explain what you need to know.
What Works for Us and What Doesn’t
Of course everyone is unique in their talents, so this list of factors below is not the whole list you’ll need to find the right fit for you, but it is a good starting place as you create your own work wish list. And yes I will give some career ideas below that.
As you read these workplace qualities, they might seem obvious to you, but you have likely not let yourself want these things. Please let yourself want what you want, and to name it in writing out a work wish list. Dismiss whatever doesn’t feel true for you. (Writing down what you do want is super helpful for calming the mind and manifesting amazing things.)
Work Environments Where Sensitive Souls Can Thrive:
- Freedom to organize our own time.
- Time to work alone.
- Allows us to think deeply or explore options deeply.
- Systems are clear and logical.
- Teams with a culture of kindness and respect.
- Work in which our sensitivity to others’ needs is valued.
- Work that calls on our best talents so we can feel energized in our work.
- Work that aligns with our values.
- A culture in which authenticity is valued.
- Where we can prioritize quality of life over other measures of success.
- Where there is enough quiet to think.
- Access to nature or views of outdoors.
- Honoring of nature or animals. (We tend to be big fans of nature.)
Elements That Will Drain Our Energy/ What to AVOID:
- Loud and highly stimulating environments, like most cubicle arrangements.
- Non-stop people time.
- Where our time is strictly managed.
- Work that is not aligned with our values.
- Lots of meetings that are not organized well.
- Competitive, cut-throat, unkind work cultures.
- Poor organization and illogical systems.
- A culture in which inauthenticity reigns.
- Gossipy and judgmental team cultures.
- Intense emotions are flying around, such as frequently angry customers or bosses.
- Salesy energy.
- Lack of any connection to nature, such as a windowless work area.
- Insensitivity to the earth or animals.
Is Self-employment a Fit for Us?
As you can see from the above list, being in control of our own work environment and decisions is looking quite good for us. Which makes you wonder about self-employment. But is it a fit in other ways? It could be! Some answers and ideas are here:
Self-employment Ideas for Introverts
Career Ideas for Introverts and Other Sensitive Souls
It’s so much about the work environment and team culture plus what makes your heart sing, so it’s really unique to each person, and thus tough to list all the possibilities. Nevertheless, I’ll give you some pathway ideas to play with and see how your heart responds.
Here are some popular career paths for introverts and other sensitive souls, assuming the environment and cause is a fit too:
- Health care professional (occupational therapy, massage therapy, midwife, lab technician, acupuncturist, alternative healer)
- Human services professionals/counselors focused mostly on one-on-one interactions
- Psychological sciences researcher/educator (psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics)
- Project coordinator/ project manager
- Leadership roles where authenticity, caring, and depth are valued
- Designers and illustrators (graphic design, illustration, web design, landscape design)
- Videography or photography
- Anything involving a lot of research or writing, such as grant writing.
- Nature-oriented work (ranger, guide, landscaping)
- Training people about something you care about.
- Veterinarian and other animal care
- Copywriting/ online content creator (for topics you care about)
- STEM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
- Executive coach/ leadership coach
- Campaign strategist for social justice or climate causes
- Social media/online content manager
- Database administrator
- Yoga teacher
- Spiritual counselor, spiritual teacher, or minister
- Behind-the-scenes no-nonsense get-it-done person at a great organization (Not a real title but it might get you thinking of good ideas. Sometimes it’s best to start with the cause or organization you care about and then see what sounds good to you among their staff positions.)
How to Choose Your Career Path
If you want to know what other elements will be a fit for you, I found that knowing more about my values, my strengths, and all the parts of my personality were critical to putting the whole puzzle together.
Once you have the puzzle pieces on the table, you can start to see how it can come into focus all together. If you never let yourself see the puzzle pieces, that’s why you can’t see the picture come together.
Figuring out those pieces is not at all easy to do by yourself, so you’ll end up thinking it can’t be done. But actually, you’re just too close to it. Getting an outside perspective such as from a career coach can be surprisingly effective for helping the picture to come into focus. What a relief. It’s an investment that saves you so much heartache.
Don’t Dismiss Your “Crazy” Ideas Too Quickly
Maybe you think you don’t have good ideas because you think your secret dreams are too unrealistic. It might be more possible than you think. Consider these things first:
- What If Your Career Ideas Feel Impossible?
- Stress Relief for Introverts in Career Transition
- Work from Anywhere: Resources for the Freedom Lifestyle