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A Satisfying and Congruent Career


Written by Hannah Chism

Demystifying the Idea of a Perfect Career

Have you ever gotten really excited about something (e.g.: upcoming trip, date, or event), only to find yourself disappointed by the actual outcome? Is the anticipation better than the reality? This is exactly how it is with careers. It seems we can be prone to the illusion that ‘perfect’ exists in the career world.

For example, if one desires to achieve complete autonomy and steps into entrepreneurship by launching their own business… Then yes, they may gain autonomy, however, they may lose camaraderie, gain administrative tasks, and exponentially increase fiscal responsibility. This may result in increased anxiety and isolation. Thus, it is important to assess the rewards versus the losses and weigh them accordingly. Do the downsides of one’s frustration of being managed by another outweigh one’s sense of isolation and anxiety?

The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect career or job, as there will be weaknesses or downsides to any job. When one has the mindset of searching for the perfect job, this can result in a sense of restlessness occupationally, where one may jump from job to job. This can leave a feeling of confusion, frustration, and discouragement. Thus, it is important to measure one’s expectations and find the best option available. Reality or perspective involves establishing a set of priorities and getting past the illusion that a perfect career exists. Instead one’s expectations can be measured by finding a congruent career.

Congruence Without Compromise

In order to secure a satisfying career, it must be a congruent one. This means a career that does not compromise one’s values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality. It means finding one that aligns with these areas to the extent possible. The most important part of determining best career fit is self-awareness. One must have insight into their values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality, in order to determine what type of career suits them best (see "Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions"). Within these areas, it is important to decide which hold the greatest importance and how this impacts one’s overall quality of life. Often one’s quality of life is determined by one’s lifestyle. One’s lifestyle is determined by one’s set of values. These values may shift in each season of life; thus, it is important to pay attention to what each season beckons for and adapt accordingly.

Adapting to Priorities

One must be adaptive to life’s ever-changing priorities. Most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. This is why it is important to consider both personal and professional ramifications when undergoing career exploration. In one season, it may make the most sense to work 60-hour weeks as you are establishing yourself as a professional. But that may only last while you are single or without kids. The next season, could require working a normal 40-hour week and setting aside climbing the ladder for a short time in order to take care of a sick family member or a newborn. Each season calls for something different and sometimes our priorities must shift and adapt. This is why it is crucial to identify the present season’s priorities and have a willingness to be flexible.

Within this, know that there is more to you than your career. There is more to life than a career. Moreover, certain seasons call for sacrificing relationships at the expense of one’s career, while others call for the reverse. Both take a certain amount of courage and sacrifice. Sometimes the greatest courage one can demonstrate is an honest reflection on whether one is living congruently with one’s values, beliefs, and self.

Lifestyle Considerations

There are various facets of a job that contribute to one’s lifestyle, thus impacting one’s overall quality of life. As aforementioned, these components may hold various weights in different seasons of life. Some of these aspects include: finances, flexibility, health benefits, paid time off, schedule (evening/day/weekends), geographic location, clock-in/clock-out, growth potential, or company culture. One’s personality should also be factored into the equation; however, this primarily impacts one’s consideration of company culture in job seeking. The weight given to each of these components is often dictated by one’s family structure, roles, and set of priorities.

Career Considerations

There are various motivating factors when selecting a career, aside from lifestyle considerations. Here are two primary motivating factors in career selection. The first is competency, which includes one’s strengths, skills, and background experiences. The second is passion, which includes intrinsic motivation, values, beliefs, and interests. Each person assigns a different value to each of these motivating factors; thus, it is important to assess your primary motivations in selecting a career.

Strategies for Identifying Priorities

So how does one go about establishing a set of priorities in their career quest? First, one must determine their priorities. This can be accomplished by reflecting on how one spends one’s time (actual) versus how one would like to spend their time (hoped for). Creating a pie chart is often a nice visual representation of this. Next, create a list or mind-map these priorities. Second, one must assign a weight to each priority. This can be accomplished by simply rank ordering each category to determine its priority level. Another option is to create a pie chart of one’s priorities in life and assign a certain percentage to each area. Creating a spreadsheet is also a viable option.


Again, most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. One’s career touches everything. Extensive stress at work, a highly demanding job, or job dissatisfaction greatly impacts one’s mental health and relationships. For example, anxiety and depression can arise from a dissatisfying or stressful job. This is why one’s career cannot be everything. If it is, then one will not be a whole, well-rounded person. It is imperative to incorporate elements of self-care into one’s daily life. Self-care can also be an avenue of incorporating the deficit areas of one’s career (e.g.: if one’s career aligns with competency yet lacks alignment with passions or interests).

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

This has been a difficult article to construct as it nearly feels like a cynical perspective. It shakes off beautiful innocence. The question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” starts as soon as we are born (e.g.: parents wondering what their child will be when they grow up, children playing with certain toys, etc..). And, as the years go by the answer becomes more and more pragmatic based on societal roles (see Linda Gottfredson’s work), expectations, and other inhibiting factors. So, in an effort to not undo everything I have written above, I implore this: Yet do not forget to DREAM. Part of securing a satisfying, congruent career, involves dreaming. The pragmatic work occurs after the dreaming. The nuts and bolts get worked out after we have dreamed and takes shape into the best suited career.

Do Not Be Afraid of Shifting Gears

Intentionally changing jobs, may be an avenue for acquiring intel… It is just as important to know what we do not want versus what we desire. This often requires experiencing what we do not enjoy first. The key is to not chase something illusive. Do not let the shame of changing jobs, hold you back from seeking a congruent career. Though embarrassment may be had, do not let this rule your career quest. Seek and search for a satisfying, congruent career not a perfect one.


My conceptual understanding of job and career theory has primarily been derived from theorists/theories mentioned in the text below. These theorists include John Holland (person-environment), Duane Brown (Values Based), Linda Gottfredson (Circumscription and Compromise), Frank Parsons (Trait N Factor), and Donald Super (Career Development Theory).
Niles, S., & Harriw-Bowlsbey, J. (2017). Career Development Interventions, 5th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Self-Care as an Essential Practice

Learning the Selflessness of Self-Care

Written by Hannah Chism


“Self-Care” is a buzz word within our culture. But what does it really mean anyway? The title in and of itself connotes a sense of individualism. The term often holds a negative stigma, as it is frequently correlated to other similar sounding words, such as, “self-centered” or “selfish.” However, self-care enables us to be more selfless. By taking care of oneself, one is able to give back to others. By stepping away and recharging one’s battery, one is able to steward the resources and relationships one has been entrusted with. Consider it this way, if all we do is work harder and harder, then we become flatter, hardened, bitter, burnt out, and moody individuals. Whereas, if we incorporate healthy doses of self-care into the menu, we become a little lighter and more refreshing to be around. Part of being a well-rounded individual is knowing when to step away and recharge.


            Self-care does not just happen or appear out of thin air. Self-care requires intentionality. So often we are caught up in the busyness and minutiae of life. It becomes increasingly more difficult to step away. However, for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones, we must find a balance between hard-work and self-care. The reality is this will look different for everyone. Within this, some do not find self-care difficult, as they overindulge in this practice and find it difficult to consider others. While others turn their nose up at the concept of self-care as they associate it with frivolous and self-centered living. Again, there is a balance between the two.


In order to strike that balance, one must plan times to recharge and recenter. I know, some gawk at the irony and idea of planning self-care as it sounds counter-intuitive; those individuals likely do not struggle with incorporating self-care into their lives as it is interwoven into the fabric of their lifestyle. However, most of us, must intentionally carve out time to rejuvenate our souls.


As has been made evident thus far, self-care does not look the same for everyone. As such, self-care requires knowing what personal practices are life-giving and rejuvenating. This requires trial and error, self-awareness, and reflective processing. One must discover what feeds one’s soul. Within this, activities that are life-giving may change season to season, as we are dynamic people. It is frustrating and discouraging when one’s previous forms of adored activities, no longer hold that place in their hearts. But just as life circumstances change, so do we. Thus, if jogging was a favorite past-time activity when one was younger yet loses its luster as one ages due to physical limitations, margin in one’s schedule, or other life circumstances, this can be disorienting and depleting on so many levels. Thus, it is necessary to re-access and essential to recalibrate in order to find a new outlet that refreshes one’s soul.


Self-care requires planning and self-awareness. There are many ways to approach incorporating self-care into your lifestyle; your approach depends on your personality.

  • Discover the actual practices that feed your soul.
    • If the practice of self-care is completely new to you and you have no idea what is rejuvenating, then:
      • Google “self-care activities” (visit this link for some ideas).
      • Select activities that sound appealing.
      • Practice these ideas and see what fits!
  • Compile all of the congruent self-care practices into a list, journal, mind-map (watch this video to find out more), menu, or spreadsheet.
  • Put an estimated duration next to each activity (e.g.: running = 1 hour; 5 minutes to get changed, 5-minute drive to path, 45 minutes running, and 5-minute drive home).
    • This step is essential. Due to busy schedules, longer self-care activities may not fit into one’s daily practices; thus, it is important to have options that require less time. A few examples of smaller self-care practices include: drinking a cup of coffee, eating a nutritious meal, a moment of sunshine, or brushing one’s teeth. These small acts can make a huge difference in one’s day – offering one a chance to feel human again and less stifled or stagnant.
  • The next, and likely the most important step, is to create a self-care plan. This plan is the intentional part of incorporating self-care practices into one’s lifestyle; this plan serves as a measure of accountability in striking a balance in one’s life. This plan must be personal, measurable, and attainable (visit this link for information on developing SMART goals).
    • Create a table.
      • The headers in the columns titled as follows: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
      • Reflect on the list, menu, spreadsheet, etc. that you created in step 2.
        • Consider how frequently you need each activity in your life. For example, if you are the healthiest version of yourself when you journal daily; this likely needs to be included in your “daily” column. However, if driving to the mountains is an activity that you only need a few times a year, then this may be a “quarterly” activity.
      • Input each self-care activity into the appropriate column, based on the amount you need/desire the activity in your lifestyle.
      • Example:
Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly Annually
Coffee Yoga Date night Weekend mountain trip Christmas at home
Sunshine Dining out Happy hour w/girlfriends Cook dinner for friends Attend a hockey game
Walk Movie Bike ride Day of solitude Weeklong vacation

If you desire to be extra detailed, you could add a column under each frequency of duration (e.g.: 10 minutes) and/or quantity (e.g.: x2).

  • Accountability
    • It may be necessary to put these activities into your calendar with reminders for each.
    • If you are a parent or partner, you may also need to coordinate childcare/domestic responsibilities in order to integrate self-care practices into your family’s lifestyle. This will likely require sacrifice in some areas, which can often be the make it or break it point of integrating self-care practices. However, it is important to keep in mind that the outcome likely outweighs the cost – that you are likely the best version of yourself when you are recharged rather than burnt out. This means that you cannot be perfect at everything, but that you can be more well-rounded. Within this, you may find that you are more intentional and present in relationships and work, when you are practicing the balance between hard work and self-care; thus, making you a more productive individual.
    • Share your self-care plan with a close friend and invite them to keep you accountable in a way that feels supportive for you.

If you care for those around you, want to excel in your career, and desire to live a more well-rounded life, then integrate self-care into your lifestyle. You will be a more productive member of society and more personable individual. You will be happier too! Self-care is an excellent way to manage stress and anxiety by increasing coping skills. It can also decrease one’s depressive feelings, by providing hope, perspective, and enjoyment! While the sacrifices may be difficult initially, it will be worth it in the end. This is why it is so important to have a menu of self-care practices to choose from that range from 5 minutes to 60 minutes to week-long ventures. Refueling your soul, refuels the souls of others! This life is far too short and difficult to not intentionally take moments to step away and recenter.