A Holistic Approach to Career Development
The meaning of the word “holistic,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is the “comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” In simple terms, holistic means considering the whole of a thing – not just the individual parts. Holistic medicine, for example, assesses and evaluates the whole person – body, mind, spirit, and emotions – in looking for answers to an issue. A work-related example would be the case of a skilled labour relations negotiator who takes a holistic approach to solving a labour dispute by considering the needs of both the workers and the employers. Considering the benefits of taking a “big picture,” holistic view, it seems natural to me that we would all do well to apply a holistic approach to career development.
There is more to our lives than our careers alone and more to our careers than simply earning a living. There is the consideration of doing meaningful work, which feeds our soul, and being challenged and continuously learning, which feeds our minds. Then there are external factors to consider that also affect, or are affected by, our careers; for example, our family and culture, the labour market, and our geographic location.
Studies are constantly proving the mind-body connection and how our thoughts can trigger biochemical reactions within our body, sometimes causing disease. Recognizing how one can affect the other in both positive and negative ways, we as career practitioners can help our clients to live and work more holistically. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review and the Energy Project surveyed over 12,000 employees and found that employees tend to be remarkably more satisfied and productive when four of their core needs are met. These core needs include: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, and the more that are met, the higher the engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction, and optimism of employees.
Here are some holistic approaches we, as career practitioners, can use to help our clients:
- Encourage our clients to find meaningful work. Finding work that we are passionate about or that gives us meaning is good for our soul. It gives us a sense of connection or purpose.
- Encourage our clients to participate in daily physical activity. The benefits of moderate exercise include stress reduction, increased energy, improved sleep, and disease management or prevention. Exercise also boosts our mood.
- Encourage professional development and continuous learning. Learning not only feeds the mind, but it also helps our clients develop and strengthen their skills.
Now that we have addressed the person as a whole, we also need to look at the external factors that can affect our clients and their careers. Some of those external factors may present barriers and we can help our clients seek solutions – if possible – to move past such obstacles. For example, one of my clients had been offered her dream job on a small, remote island; however, her children were young, and although their grandparents would be available to babysit them during the day, her husband was settled in his job and would not have any job prospects on the island. The decision would affect the family as a whole, and geographic location and community were also factors. While we should never, as career practitioners, steer clients toward a specific decision, we can empower them by providing tools and resources to assist in making their own decisions.
Holistic career development takes not just the whole person into account, ensuring that some – if not all – of our core needs are met, but it also takes external driving forces into consideration.
Delve deeper into the topic of holistic career development with these articles:
- 7 Tips for Mind-Body Balance
- Career: More Than Just a Job
- Remote Career Development: A Holistic Approach to Professional Growth
- Why You Hate Work
- Why Finding Meaning at Work is More Important Than Feeling Happy
More than ever, clients are seeking the help of skilled and caring career development professionals. Consider expanding your service offerings by enrolling in CPC’s new work-life coaching program. You’ll learn many strategies and tactics for guiding and supporting your clients to get the most out of living, learning, and working.
Conny Lee is a Certified Holistic Narrative Career Practitioner, Online Business Manager for coaches, Certified Career Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist, and Certified Résumé Strategist. She is focused on supporting people to create the career, business, and life they truly desire and love. To learn more you can visit Conny’s website at thevisionaryva.com. When she isn’t working, Conny enjoys reading, listening, learning anything related to personal development, spending time with her family, and working out.