#Highly Sensitive People: Are you following your best career path?

Are you following your best career path? If you’re like many people, you probably aren’t. It’s extremely important for highly sensitive people to be in a career that meets their needs. These needs include being in a proper physical environment where you work with like-minded people in a comfortable setting and be in a position to utilize your strengths and interests.

Change can be a scary thing, especially when you don’t know what you really want to do or where your strengths lie. So what’s does a highly sensitive person do? You could stay in a situation that’s totally wrong for you, you can have a good enough career that pays the bills, or you can take small steps to go in a better direction.

Depending on where you are and where you want to be, you can make subtle changes without jeopardizing your current job. You might consider trying new things in your spare time and seeing what fits your personality.

Focus your energies on deciding what you like and don’t like about your current and past professions and also note what your hobbies and interests are. What are your strengths and how would you like to utilize them? It’s important to write your answers down and refer to it often. These are important clues to help clarify what you truly want.

I knew at age thirty that I couldn’t work for anyone and needed to be self-employed. I worked in a family business for nine years. It was a very difficult time! I knew that I needed to make a change.

I decided that I would make use of my experience and expertise and start my own business in a similar field. It wasn’t easy leaving a family business and dealing with the guilt and fear of starting a new venture, but I was determined to make it work. Thirty five years later, I proud to say that it worked out.

People have many “careers” throughout their lifetime. Their needs and circumstances change. I’ve been working on my next career. This has been a gradual process and have enjoyed it tremendously.

Writing has been a strength and a passion for me and I plan to do more of this in my retirement years. My book, Making Sense of Your High Sensitivity, is about my life as a highly sensitive person and the lessons that I’ve learned. I also have this Blog and a quarterly HSP newsletter. You can get more information from my website http://www.thehighlysensitiveperson.com.

The lessons I’ve learned are you need to be definite about you want to do. This might take exploring and experiencing different things before you do this. Once you have a burning desire to do something, you’ll be amazed how you overcome the difficulties that get in your way. All of your experiences, good and bad, will help you. Don’t be afraid to go above your comfort zone. It will take you places that you’ve never dreamed of! How can you expand your many possibilities if you stay in a safe place?

Your answers will come by learning as much about yourself as you can. The more you learn about yourself, the better you’ll know your wants and needs. Does this make sense? If so, how come you haven’t taken or made the time for self-reflection? Highly sensitive people have the unique capability to do so.

Are you following your best career path? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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2 Responses to #Highly Sensitive People: Are you following your best career path?

  1. Mary Jane Ruffolo says:

    The HSP concept is very new to me, but the minute..maybe the very second…I read Shannon L. Adler’s quoted description (that begins, “Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet….”) I was thunderstruck, or gobsmacked, or…you get the idea! I had never been described so perfectly. Truly, I was completely astounded by how exactly it described me.

    I am a retired social worker. From my first job as a caseworker at the age of 21 I knew that was what I wanted to spend my life doing. About ten years later when I earned my Master’s degree in the field I remembered being counseled in high school about my aptitudes and being told social work would be a very good field for me. When I learned that a graduate degree was pretty much required, I discarded the idea. Academics were an issue for me in high school, not because of intelligence but because of problems with not being able to focus and maintain attention. And then, lo and behold, years later that’s exactly what I was doing and had accomplished.

    So I worked in social work from 1967-2002 with brief sabbaticals when I would do something like retail work for a while because my emotional energy was too drained for social work. But, I kept going back, mostly working for the government in some of the most stressful and dangerous practice settings in the field. They included child abuse and neglect investigations in urban areas and a decade in a maximum security forensic facility that provided psychiatric evaluations and treatment for those who were once called, “the criminally insane.”

    When I retired, I pretty much just collapsed. First I drank for a year, then did the rehab thing and got sober in 2003. But, I couldn’t stand to leave the house and had very little personal contact with anyone. I did very much enjoy being online and the huge world that the web opened up. It’s still how I prefer to spend my time and I still, 13 years later, pretty much avoid contact with people except for my youngest son and his children.

    Well, that was long-winded, wasn’t it? All this is leading up to a question as I continue to try to understand and accept myself…

    After seeing and reading the above article, I now wonder if I chose one of the worst fields for a Highly Sensitive Person to work in….it was something that just came naturally for me (until paperwork became such a huge issue, ADD again, probably) and it was also a door that readily opened up to me when I needed to go to work. But, did my decades in the field contribute to the weary, over-used, isolated and brittle place I find myself in now, at the age of nearly 70? I have few close relationships because I ended them…I’ve been doing that for many years…ending hurtful relationships, even with my mother, now a son, a brother, et al…and while I miss the relationships, I can’t stand the feelings that come with them being in my life.

    Oh, and I loved retail except for the paychecks!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you,
    MJ

    • Cliff Harwin says:

      Hi MJ,

      I’m very sorry that I haven’t responded to you sooner. I’m in the process of getting my house ready for sale and relocating 950 miles away.

      Having the right career path is an individual choice. It’s not unusual to gravitate towards a career through circumstance. You mentioned that social work came natural to you and you needed work. It sounds to me that you were very successful, but it took a lot out of you physically and emotionally. Perhaps you can take what you’ve learned to help others in a way that fits your personality.

      You don’t need to justify why you have few close relationships and end hurtful ones. It’s your personal choice. Something to think about…Why not use your knowledge of being a highly sensitive person to your advantage? You have the ability to create a life that best meets your needs. Being nearly 70 shouldn’t prevent you from doing this. I’m 65 and I feel my best years are coming!

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