I’ve heard all kind of advice on the kind of jobs empaths should or shouldn’t do.
But you can’t really bunch every empath together and say, “You should do this job, that other one is bad for you” – becasue we’re still all individuals.
And while we all share similar experiences of life, I think it’s just plain bad advice to tell someone what kind of job they should have.
In fact, that’s how it all just gets even more confusing!
Because empaths typically pay a lot of attention to detail and are pretty autonomous when it comes to learning, empaths will often do many things really well.
I remember when I was in career coaching as a youngster and they made us take those career tests to see what types of careers could suit our personalities.
I ended up scoring 4 and 5 stars on just about every job on the planet and was given a vigorous thumbs up that came with a very-frozen-kind-of-confused smile because the career coach didn’t know what to really do with me.
But the quizzes were all made up of silly questions like “The coffe pot’s nearly empty at the office, what do you do? 1) Drink it and put the empty pot back, 2) Leave it for the next person, 3) Make a fresh pot of coffee”.
They had very little focus on actually working to find out what my strengths and interests were so that we could work on finding someting I’d be good at and I’d enjoy doing.
And as someone who was very empathetic and liked to be nice to other people (and work towards preserving harmony in a group), the natural choice was to do the thing that was the most considerate.
Turns out, if you’re empathic you’re qualified for most jobs.
At least in theory.
It’s whenwe come down to WHAT YOU WANT where it gets a whole lot more complicated.
It’s not that I couldn’t be a prison guard, taxi driver or doctor (my top 3 from the career test), it’s that I don’t want to do any of them!
Enter problem number two.
When you tend to get pretty good at just about anything because you pick up the finer points of it quickly, people will start telling you, “You’re so good at that, you should do this for a living!”.
Now, they don’t mean anything bad by it, but when you keep hearing it over and over again – and being the empath that you are – you run after every single career opportunity like it’s your own choice, you end up feeling lost.
Just a few weeks ago my cousin came for a visit and he brought his dog.
The last time they were over he’d made some comments about me being good with his dog. This time, when I took charge of the situation when I was introducing the dog to my 4-year-old and got a very sensitive and timely response from the dog, I’m surprised he didn’t faint his eyes rolled up into his head that much.
Every time I got his dog to give us space, to treat my daughter with respect and to defer to her rather than jump on her, and to wait patiently for his turn with a toy, my cousing exclaimed that I should become a dog trainer because I’m so good with dogs.
Thankfully, I cracked this nut a while back.
When I was younger, my instant response would have been to become all starry eyed at that response and I would have started googling how to become a dog trainer and look for local programs as soon as I got home.
I may even have ended up becoming a dog trainer and I may have had a decent career as one. I could even have been happy as a dog trainer – and I certainly wish someone would have suggested THAT to me back when I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life – but it’s not something I really want to do now.
Instead, I took his comments with a grain of salt.
It was obvious from the way he handled his dog that he hadn’t spend that much time on training, more of a bare minimum kind of guy. The fact that he was impressed with my dog-handling skills and his dog’s responsiveness was nice confirmation that the years I’ve put into it have paid off.
But rather than become a dog trainer, my goal is to have dogs instead. And, as the empath I am, I’ve put in a lot of time into learning about the species-specific needs and behaviours of dogs. Just like I’ve done with horses.
But because of this kind of oh-you-should-do-this-for-a-living responses, I’ve had a long and meandering career path becuase it took me forever to figure out what it was that I had the interest and tenacity to stick to doing day in and day out – even when it got a bit boring.
I have qualifications and experience up the wazoo.
I’ve been all over the map, trying out different things. And the things that have emerged as a repeating pattern over the years are animals, creativity and a penchant for doing things exactly as I want to.
And entrepreneurship has felt like a natural fit all my life – I’ve done it enough times now to know that I much prefer having my own business over working for someone else.
I think what’s helped me a lot along the way is to really examine my own interests free of the influece of people telling me what I’m good at or what they think I should be doing.
Find your ikigai.
Ikigai is a Japanese term that loosely translates into “reason for being”.
Above all else, it’s a lifestyle that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical (as any truly Japanese concept would).
The idea is that this balance, your reason for being, is found at the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for.
And it looks something like this:
For a really long time I felt an existential frustration which came from conflicting desires.
On the one hand, I wanted to have a life full of meaning and purpose, alturistic and larger-than-life. And on the other hand, I wanted to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with having money.
The result of this was an infuriating struggle between wanting to do things that I really cared about and things that made money.
Instead, I got stuck in a kind of no-man’s-land in between the two working odd jobs to make just enough money to pursue things I was passionate about as hobbies.
But that wasn’t satisfying at all.
I mean, sure it paid the bills but it didn’t feed my soul. And I longed to do work that was more enjoyable and had more purpose.
To discover your ikigai, you have to start filling out the slots in the matrix – and typically from the outside in.
Think about what you’re genuinely passionate about and only after that choose the medium through which you want to express that passion.
Steve Jobs is often given as a good example of finding your ikigai.
Though he was one of the titans of technology, he was first and foremost, a lover of fine craftsmanship.
Whether it was collecting handmade Japanese teacups or obsessing over design detials on the iPod, he allowed himself to pursue his passion for finely made items – Pixar and Apple were simply channels for him to express his passion for detail.
Ikigai views everything as connected – your job, your family, your passions and desires. And its aim is to find balance, fulfillment and joy in your daily life.
Because it’s not so much about what you do well, but that you can do everything you choose to do well.
If you want to go more in-depth with ikigai you can read more about it in the book Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life*.
3 beliefs you need as an empath in your job.
So, I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.
Dr Judith Orloff has said on more than one occasion that empaths should never work in retail. To me that just sounds like privilege speaking because she’s clearly never HAD to work a job she didn’t want to.
I’ve had to work retail to pay bills. And I even loved parts of it.
The job overall was tiring and exhausting, but while I was doing it part-time and had a great working community, I enjoyed it. My very favourite thing was to work with toddler shoes because it allowed me to dive deep into a topic and discuss it at length with both colleagues and customers.
First-time parents were my favourites because they wanted and needed a lot of information and guidance in how to buy shoes that fitted theri child’s feet. I got to solve problems and help people onto a better path!
Other departmens I loved were toys and pets. But teen clothes, women’s accessories and menswear were like hell to me. And as long as I took care of myself, the job didn’t make me overwhelmed.
1) A belief in yourself
First and foremost you need to believe that you’re amazing at whatever you choose to do and that you are worthy of having everything you desire.
If you don’t have conviction in what you’re doing, nobody’s gonna buy what you’re selling. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an employee or have your own business, at the very least you’re trying to sell your boss on giving you a raise.
Take me for instance, when I had to go to the baby department and sell all kinds of junk you DO NOT NEED with a newborn. I didn’t believe in most of the
products knick-knacks we were selling and I couldn’t be bothered to learn anything about them – mostly because there wasn’t that much to learn.
I only did THE BARE MINIMUM when I was there and took a lot of flak for not “engaging with customers” and trying to sell them all the junk we had lying around taking up space.
I didn’t beleive in me or my message, so I sucked at it!
Or take the job I had working stockroom for women’s handbags, which I absolutely hated. From the sour coworkers to being treated like crap by sales staff who thought they were better than us “stockies”, and the 4 am wake-ups to make it to work on time, that job was a nightmare.
I did it efficiently but without love. And when the assistant head of the department commented to the head of our department that I severely dislike the job, the department head was genuinely surprised because he’d been taking the quality of my work as a sign that I loved it there (another one of those you’re-so-good-at-this-paradoxes).
But when you have a solid conviction that you’re the fucking tits at the job you’re doing, that you’re bloody unstoppable, that you’re putting your own special falva on things that isn’t available anywhere else – well, then you’ll be like me in baby shoes who had a line of customers trailing after me because they wanted to talk to ME and not some of the other people on shift.
When you show up with that belief that you’re doing amazing work, you’ll start seeing people respond to you with that same energy. You’ll start attracting clients, customers and coworkers who think you’re the bee’s knees and see the value in both you as a person and in the work that you do.
You gotta believe it before you can be it. Remember that!
2) A belief in what you’re offering
If this wasn’t made clear already, you need to believe in what you’re selling.
So, not like me and baby knick-knacks.
Instead, you need to get your energy wholeheartedly behind whatever it is that you’re selling.
I’m not saying that you have to live and breathe this stuff – remember how everything is connected in ikigai – because we should have variation between work and life (it’s not very ikigai if you lose sight of the different aspects of yourself).
But you should focus on having work that aligns with your values and be passionate about the benefits to your clients.
I recommend clearly looking at the values of the companies you wish to work for before even sending any applications – if you have the luxury of doing that. If you need a job yesterday, take a job, but don’t give up – keep your eyes open and keep looking for that one place that has values as a business that align with yours.
It could mean moving from a chain restaurant to working in a small family-owned restaurant. It could mean moving from a fast-fashion company to one which has sustainability baked into it’s operating philosophy. It could mean going from a career in finance to a career in NGOs. Or it may mean, like it did for me, starting your own business because you don’t see the change in the world that you wish to create.
Whatever you do, lead with your values so that it’s easy for you to get excited about going to work every day.
3) A belief in the benefits
Last but not least, you need to believe in the person who’s willing to receive what you’re offering.
If you don’t believe that anyone’s gonna show up and grab what you’re offering, why bother offering it at all?
If you want a raise, but wouldn’t give yourself a raise if you were your boss, you have some work to do before you can walk in there and say a pay bump is justified with unshakeable confidence.
You need to believe that what you bring is totally worth it to the other person.
You want to be the person on the team that leaves a great, big gaping hole if you’re not there and motivate your boss to pay for the privilege of having your awesome ass on the team.
If you have your own business you need to believe in that your clients will ger real value and tangible results from your products or services. That when they buy from you it’s life-changing and that they need what you’re offering to get stellar results.
You need to believe that people are ready, willing and able to show up and take the necessary steps.
That they’re willing to take that leap with you.
Energy is everything to empaths.
When you have these three beliefs deeply rooted in yourself you can lock them in energetically into your mind, your body and your goals.
Now’s the time to get your vibe in order – because your vibe attracts your tribe – and work through any blocks that you have and RELEASE THAT SHIT.
You don’t have to believe the BS story you’ve told yourself in the past, you can rewrite your story any time you want.
When you want to create meaningful change in your life and craft a career that embodies the perfect ikigai for you, the first place to start is to educate you on you.
I highly recommend you do two things: first sign up to my emails and get the best advice your mother never gave you about how to build the perfect empath life. Secondly, start journaling today – there is nothing more powerful for an empath than starting a dialogue with her innermost self to find her purpose in life.
And if you want true abundance in your life – the kind that includes as well as goes beyond material posessions – you need to rework your mindset in order to start inviting it into your life.
Redefine how you value yourself.
When you want to do the deep inner work to increase your earning potential and break through your income plateau, take The Money Mindset Workshop.
It’s a course with real talk about money, that includes exercises and journaling prompts to help you completely transform how you think and feel, not just about money, but how you measure your own worth.
PS – Just to keep things above board: links marked with an asterisk* are affiliate links, which means if you buy through that link they pitch a few cents into my coffee jar for referring you. It’s at no extra cost to you and I only recommend that which I love myself! Thank you for reading 💛