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By Jenna Avery, CLC,
Life Coach for Sensitive Souls

As a sensitive soul, working in a “regular” job is fraught with challenges. Many of society’s seemingly tried and true working standards are simply intolerable for us. Mainstream work culture and ethics exacerbate what is already seriously misaligned for sensitive souls. This sad fact is a real loss, though the average company or boss doesn’t recognize it. As sensitives, we bring so much to the working world – creativity, caring, warmth, intuition, originality, conscientiousness, attention to detail, thoughtfulness, thoroughness, spirituality, perceptiveness, and supportiveness, to name just a few. These qualities make us highly valuable employees.

But despite our strengths, I’ve watched fellow sensitive souls become burned-out, exhausted, overwhelmed, lost, bitter, and frustrated by continually casting ourselves against the harsh shores of the traditional working world. I believe this is because working 40-, 50-, or even 60-plus-hour workweeks is a disaster for our sensitive nervous systems. Fluorescent light bulbs suck our energy dry. Cubicles without fresh air and natural daylight sap our strength. Office politics and corporate bureaucracies drain our passion, idealism, and creativity. Our bosses’ expectations, combined with unspoken peer pressure inherent in working culture, tell us that work, deadlines, and clients come first before life, family, and well being. These pressures, along with our frequent inclination to put other people’s needs first, override our own natural reason when it comes to self-care and self-preservation.

So. What’s a sensitive soul to do?

For many of us, working on our own is ultimately the best answer. Getting there can seem like an impossible dream. What I’ve seen, however, is that working solo is entirely possible. And, there are many ways to get there.

The first step, of course, is knowing what it is that you want to do. (See my article, Work That Works for Sensitive Souls: Six Steps to Transform Your Career) But then comes the next, and sometimes more challenging, step. Once we’ve tapped into our passion and discovered our calling and we know that we want to work for ourselves, how do we get there?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

“Start Small and Start Now”
Barbara Sher, author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, recommends that you “start small and start NOW.” I think this is terrific advice. Barbara also points out that you must take responsibility for sharing your magnificent gifts with the world. Does the saying, “Don’t let your gifts die with you,” ring a bell? I believe that each one of you is unique, special, and talented. There is no one else who can design clothes like you, no one else who can write just like you, no one else who has your exact take on how to create fabulous retreats for women, etc. So if you don’t do it, then who will?

“Yes, but I have to get credentialed first.” Or, “Yes, but I have to have the money first.” Then, “Yes, but I don’t have enough time.” Or, “Yes, but I have to go back to school first.” Have you heard these “Yes, but” phrases before? Sonia Choquette, a preeminent spiritual teacher, says: “Don’t let your big buts stop you!”

Sometimes your only obstacle is that you aren’t putting your creativity to use on your own behalf. Volunteer, take an internship, start a club, read everything you can get your hands on, take classes, make contacts, do informational interviews, get out there and follow your dream! Even better, get that first client and then give it everything you’ve got. Schedule that first class, set the date for your first retreat, set aside one hour each week to write. Just knowing that you are on your path is hugely motivating, and brings huge bursts of energy and inspiration. Remember the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

Get an Easier Day Job
Sonia recommends finding an easier day job to get you started on a transition. When you’re overwhelmed at an intense job, it can be an insurmountable task to make time for something new. By taking on an easier daytime workload, you’ll free up energy to take on your true calling. This might look like working a part-time job, taking a less intense full-time job, or even restructuring your current job. You might consider asking for a reduced schedule or cutting back on your hours. Or simply begin leaving work on time and start saying “no” to extra projects. My energy, passion, and vigor increased exponentially by switching to a four-day workweek one summer and being willing to say no to my boss.

Save Your Dough
And since working less might mean earning less income, you might be surprised to find that you can live on less. Take a look at unique and creative ways to save money. There are resources with tips about how to live simply, cut back, and save. Evaluate your budget and see what you can eliminate. Maybe letting go of cable TV, magazines, car payments, etc., would free up extra money, and the extra time you’re seeking. And who knows, your true life’s work may well bring you more income.

Pay Attention to Your Sensitivity
One client and I recently noted that signs of despair and energy drain are like giant “DO NOT ENTER” signs. This is a great observation! Your sensitivity lets you know what doesn’t work for you, loud and clear. It’s up to you to pay attention. You can use this as a guide to let yourself know what’s too much, what’s too little, and what’s just right. Allow your imagination to play out the scenarios you’re considering and let your gut-level reactions tell you what works. And stay with it, using your creativity, until you hit on something that gives you energy just to contemplate it. Then you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Take a Cue From the Universe
I believe that the Universe lets us know when it’s time to say goodbye to our old job, even when we think we aren’t ready. Sometimes we get laid off, sometimes we get fired, sometimes we get injured, sometimes we get sick, or sometimes we suddenly get a crummy new boss. Burnout, challenging co-workers, and despondency are similar indicators. If we’re lucky, and we keep our eyes open and our heads up, we might even catch on before these come to pass. And if these things do happen, consider the possibility that the Universe is conspiring on your behalf to let you know that it’s time for a change.

Above all else, remember that getting there isn’t an option – it’s a must. And it’s only a question of timing. What I’ve seen is that you will be guided, “as if by an invisible hand,” to the right and proper place for you to live your true calling, as long as you don’t give up on your dream.


Copyright 2004-2011, Jennifer Avery, All rights reserved.

Jenna Avery is a highly sensitive coach and intuitive who specializes in guiding sensitive souls to find a deep sense of inner rightness within themselves so they are inspired to step forward and shine. Jenna is a Certified Life Coach based in Berkeley, California. She can be reached at 510.984.3474. You’re invited to take her free online assessment: "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?" on her website at

These articles may be published on your website in their entirety as long as the copyright notes and biographical information above are included in their entirety with functional hyperlinks. Please also send me an e-mail to let me know they have been published, and where. Thank you!

Jenna Avery, CLC, MCP, MLA
2721 Shattuck Avenue, #245, Berkeley, California, 94705
tel: (510) 984-3474
Please contact me on my new website here.
© Jennifer Avery, 2002, 2011, 2012.  All Rights Reserved.