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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 2, Issue 11, 06/12/08

Working Happily Ever After

Recently an Introvert Energizer reader suggested I write about possible careers for introverts. I've been thinking about it.

Ten years ago, not particularly aware of myself as an introvert, I bumped into an ideal job (for an introvert like me.) I recognized it almost instantly, seized the moment, and have never regretted it. After forty years in the work world, these ten years of extreme satisfaction are very noticeable to me.

Thinking about introverts and career, I decided to look at my own work to see what makes it a good job for an introvert. Here's what I notice. (I help introverts have a great life: life at its best, no matter what the challenges, as my slogan goes. I do it through life coaching.)

I get to set my own schedule, an advantage if you're looking to take good care of your energy. I work almost entirely one to one - in a quiet, mainly undisturbed atmosphere (it includes a 20-year-old introvert cat and a young extrovert dog :-)

Introverts tend to be good listeners, good observers, good at focusing - and we don't like small talk. My work is essentially the opposite of small talk and is full of listening, observing, focusing.

Introverts like to learn. Coaching is about learning. Introverts like depth. Coaching is an in-depth partnership relationship that works with both outer and inner life (that natural introvert domain.)

Introverts tend to have high self-awareness. My work is about increasing self-awareness and putting it to good use.

Introverts tend to be creative and to "think outside the box." Coaching is a cross-disciplinary field that's built on one-of-a-kind relationships between client and coach.

Because I work with my clients weekly, I have good time to process and integrate what's happening in their lives - it feels like a comfortable introvert pace.

And introverts tend to be independent - my work suits my independent nature.

No wonder I'm so happy!

So what are good careers for introverts? Obviously, work that aligns with natural introvert tendencies is good for introverts.

But human beings are complex and so is the world. Passion, curiosity, necessity and fate lead us to unlikely places. (Diane Sawyer, the television anchorwoman, for instance, is often cited as an introvert in a seemingly extrovert role.) Which makes me hesitant to do too much career compartmentalizing in terms of temperament.

I feel fortunate that in the days before I turned into a "conscious introvert", I was able to recognize a good thing when I saw it.

Maybe the trick is to keep asking, "What makes me happy?" (introverts and extroverts alike) and go for it however we can.

End of food for thought - on to some practical ideas:

Three Practical Ideas for Introverts

  1. Find a way to talk to a young introvert in your life about being an introvert (and that it's a good thing);
  2. Think about what makes you happy at work;
  3. Fantasize about what your new career would be if you changed it.
A Practical Idea for Extroverts

Ask an introvert in your life what makes them happy at work.

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