There are many benefits of a mindful career and I want to share some of those with you today. First though, so we are clear, a mindful career is one in which you make conscious decisions rather than steering your career on autopilot.
Do you remember how you got into work today? Or perhaps you are struggling to keep an issue in your personal life from invading your thoughts when you are trying to work? Maybe you have a million things going on at work and you’re feeling overwhelmed? When we feel this way we often turn on the autopilot. This often results in that feeling of (just) surviving to the end of the day… which is no way to live.
So with that in mind, here are 3 benefits to choosing a mindful career:
Do you see things clearly or are you experiencing your career (or moments within it) via your own thoughts and preconceptions? I mean we all see and experience the world in our own reality… but, are you getting caught up in a spiral of thinking? Much of the negativity we experience in our careers come from our own limiting beliefs, deeply held opinions, judgements and views which are like glasses we view our career (and life) through. That’s not to say that external factors don’t have an impact…but much of our career distress comes from how we react in any given circumstance.
This is where choice comes in. We can choose to see the world around us differently if we choose to alter our perception. That irritating behaviour exhibited by a colleague is only irritating if you choose to see it that way. I am not saying it’s easy, it isn’t. It’s difficult enough being open-minded to others but to be open-minded and kind to ourselves…that’s even more difficult. Once we acknowledge which pair of glasses we have on, we often see more clearly.
What to do: be curious about your actions/reactions – notice if you are falling into an old, familiar pattern. Stop and examine what’s going on. Notice any physical sensations, any emotions and the stories your mind is creating about the situation.
Important: This isn’t an exercise designed for you to give yourself a hard time or to feel bad about falling into an unhelpful pattern. It’s an opportunity for you to recognise the experience and make the decision to accept that it’s happening. It will pass and then you can reflect and challenge those opinions/limiting beliefs/judgements when you are feeling calmer.
Improves your working relationships
The more you understand your own mind, the more you can apply that understanding to others. From reading their body language to being able to stand in their shoes for a moment. Mindfulness increases your empathy and enhances your connection with others. This builds trust which is good for your relationships.
Imagine your boss is coming towards you. You have a difficult relationship and you’ve got your defensive glasses on. Perhaps you’re wondering what you’ve done wrong? Whether they’re bringing you more work to do? Or I bet they are going to change the goalpost again.
What to do: When we approach meetings/experiences consciously and confidently, instead of being carried away by them they are usually more productive. Once again, curiosity is key. What if you asked how you could listen to your boss? How you could hear them and see them without judgement as though it was the first time you’d met. What if you only dealt with what comes up in the moment?
Important: This isn’t a cure-all approach and sometimes the other person is being a pain in the … but mindfulness helps you see that it’s on them. You cannot control other people’s reactions, only your own. It’s OK to walk away if it’s not working or to create boundaries – this isn’t about excusing people’s behaviour but noticing it and how you react.
Allows your creative potential to bloom
A mindful career means consciously focusing your mind on what’s in front of you. This means resisting the patterns and routines that we have created over years. It interrupts the conditioned responses which block our creative potential by stopping us exploring new avenues of thought. Each time we resist an autopilot habit, like checking our phone during a conversation with a colleague or reacting defensively to feedback we open up to alternatives. We become less likely to default to these patterns in the future and to create more effective strategies to cope.
What to do: notice when you act on autopilot. Perhaps over a day. What are your triggers? What could you do instead? Perhaps leaving your phone at your desk or turning off notifications? Maybe focusing on the other person’s body language, words or behaviours.
Important: This is about focusing on one thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth! Have you ever noticed when you stop thinking about something and focus on what you’re doing the answer to your problem pops into your head?
Bonus benefit of a mindful career
There is another benefit… mindfulness reduces your stress levels and helps you feel less overwhelmed. This is because it takes you out of the flight-or-fight response and brings a calmer mental state. This allows you to show yourself (and others) more compassion and kindness – and who doesn’t want that?!