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How To Take An Inside-Out Approach To Career Planning

woman looking out the window wondering how to start career planning

The Hallmark movie season is coming, and that means the return of the stereotypical high-powered career female protagonist who has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. 

She has a corner office, thousand-dollar stilettos, and an incurable coffee addiction, but somewhere along the way, she has lost her own well-being, her sense of humanity, or her gratitude for the simple things. Never fear. Christmastime in a small town will restore it. 

We love to love these movies, and we love to hate them. But what if I told you Hallmark got it all wrong? Because somewhere along the way, things got muddled. 

Because the truth is: You can absolutely have career success AND a radiantly healthy + well-balanced lifestyle. You don’t have to choose between following the money and following your heart—no matter how much Hallmark tries to tell you you do. 

If you’re ready to take an inside-out (HEART-based) approach to career planning that ends in success at work and better well-being, read on.

What HEART-Based Career Planning Is NOT: 

First things first, it’s important to establish what HEART-based career planning is not. 

It is NOT:

  • Making a career of your hobbies.
  • Following your passion.
  • Finding charitable work.
  • “Positive vibes only!”
  • Polishing your resume and applying to hundreds of jobs.
  • Doing what your parents think you should be doing.
  • Doing what your friends are doing. 

So What Is A HEART-Based Approach To Career Planning? 

Taking a HEART-based approach means intentionally aligning your heart + spirit to your work so that work generates energy for you and gives you a sense of meaning. 

Your life purpose doesn’t have to be in your work—and it probably won’t be! 

Many things drive a meaningful life, and when you align your heart + spirit to your work, your work becomes more meaningful—and that spills into other aspects of your life. When you have meaning in your work, you’ll feel compelled to make changes that will sustain your daily energy, starting and ending each workday with joy.

HEART-based career planning IS: 

  • A proactive approach to career planning.  
  • Finding work that is meaningful to you AND brings value to the world.
  • Taking steps toward alignment of your strengths with your values.
  • A quest to discover what makes you come alive.
  • Listening to your heart vs. your head (which will take awareness + courage).
  • Bringing together your “work self” and your “outside of work self” until you become whole, inside and out.
  • Career planning—performed from the inside out.

Setting Your HEART-Based Career Goals

woman writing in her notebook about heart based career planning

HEART-based is more than just a cute acronym (noted below). It’s career planning from the inside out. It’s about creating harmony among your body, mind, and spirit. It’s about rejecting the idea that you are two different people: a “work person” and an “outside of work” person, so that you become whole…all the time. 

When you set HEART-based career goals, you stop to reflect on what’s next, learn how to match your unique skills and experiences with desired positions, and execute a thoughtful flight plan from your current position. 

HEART goals are:

  • H – HEART-CENTERED in alignment with your values
  • ⁠E – ENERGIZINGlight a fire in your belly and sparks momentum
  • A – AGILE easy to iterate with short, quick actions
  • R – REALISTIC doable within the next 3 to 6 months
  • T – THOROUGH a detailed vision of your desired outcome 

The Heart-Energy Connection

In “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” from The Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy explore the concept of energy. The problem with working hours, they postulate, is that time is a finite resource. Energy, on the other hand, is not. 

They argue that organizations who want to get the most from their people should worry less about time-based productivity and more about expanding their team member’s capacity for energy. 

According to them, there are multiple types of energy:

  1. Physical: Physical energy is restored when you prioritize your health (getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, taking breaks, etc.).
  1. Emotional: To maximize emotional energy, find ways to lower stress (breathwork, meditation, etc.) and get out of fight-or-flight mode.
  1. Mental: Focus is key here. Mental energy requires less multitasking and longer periods of deep work, free from distractions.
  1. Spirit: This is the biggie. Spiritual energy comes from feeling a sense of meaning and purpose in work, and if we tap into it, we can achieve a greater sense of alignment, satisfaction, and well-being in our careers and our overall lives.

How Flourish Careers Can Help

You don’t have to leave the high-powered job in the city and move to a Christmas-y small town….

You can tap into the energy of your spirit—even in a metropolitan career—by ensuring your everyday work is aligned with what you value most.

Alignment is the foundation of my heart-based career planning framework—because you deserve a career that feels good from the inside out.


Flourish Careers is a career coaching and consulting business dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses find their unique path to flourishing professional success. Learn more about how we can help you here. 

woman writing in her notebook about heart based career planning

How To Take An Inside-Out Approach To Career Planning

woman writing in her notebook about heart based career planning

How To Take An Inside-Out Approach To Career Planning

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