If you’re an introvert, highly sensitive person (HSP), and/or a person with a big heart, you need to be careful about your job environment and choose a career path that fits who you are, instead of trying to fit in to a bad match.
As a highly sensitive person and an introvert who got so drained by many jobs I tried, I learned the hard way.
We can really thrive and excel in the right environment, and we can wilt easily in the wrong environment.
If you have a yuck feeling about work, I bet it is because the work itself or the work culture are a bad match for you.
You have so much to offer. Yes, YOU. The world needs your gifts. Sensitive souls are needed. I mean it. You can find a better fit. Not overnight, but a better way is possible.
There are low stress jobs for introverts, HSPs, and other sensitive souls.
No, there are no perfect stress-free professions. But lower stress is definitely a worthy goal. Yes! Stress is a natural part of life and we can be even more vulnerable to it as sensitive souls. We can do self-care, but that’s not enough if the situation continues to be draining.
So often people simply put up with far too much of a stressful situation, thinking we are the problem. Let’s rethink this.
I’m a highly sensitive person and an introvert with a big heart. That’s 3 forms of sensitivity all in one body. (If you’re a Myers-Briggs Type fan, I’m an INFP which explains a whole range of sensitivity.)
I’ve tried all kinds of work environments from classrooms to cubicles, and many kinds of careers, and there were many rough patches in my work life. Now I have landed happily with being a self-employed career/ business coach (especially for introverts and HSPs).
In those various work experiences, sometimes I felt alive and energized and sometimes completely drained and MISERABLE. Oh I can feel the bad memories in my body as I write this. I want to reach out to you if you’re feeling that misery and beg you to believe it can be different.
Now I get what works:
I’ve studied what factors work for me and what works for others with a similar temperament. Now I can fairly easily tell you what is important for us in choosing our work environments and career paths. Work can feel great, really! I’ll explain what you need to know.
What Works for Us and What Doesn’t
Of course everyone is unique in their talents, so this list of factors below is not the whole list you’ll need to find the right fit for you, but it is a good starting place as you create your own work wish list. And yes I will give some career ideas below that.
As you read these workplace qualities, they might seem obvious to you, but you have likely not let yourself want these things. Maybe you think it’s impossible.
Please let yourself want what you want, and to name it, in writing out your own work wish list. Dismiss whatever doesn’t feel true for you. (Writing down what you do want is super helpful for calming the mind and manifesting amazing things.)
Work Environments Where Sensitive Souls Can Thrive:
- Freedom to organize our own time.
- Time to work alone.
- Allows us to think deeply or explore options deeply.
- Systems are clear and logical.
- Teams with a culture of kindness and respect.
- Work in which our sensitivity to others’ needs is valued.
- Work that calls on our best talents so we can feel energized in our work.
- Work that aligns with our values.
- A culture in which authenticity is valued.
- Where we can prioritize quality of life over other measures of success.
- Where there is enough quiet to think and find calm.
- Access to nature or views of outdoors.
- Honoring of nature or animals. (We tend to be big fans of nature.)
Elements That Will Drain Our Energy/ What to AVOID:
- Loud and highly stimulating environments, like cubicle arrangements or hospital environments.
- Non-stop people time.
- Where our time is strictly managed.
- Work that is not aligned with our values.
- Lots of meetings that are not organized well.
- Competitive, cut-throat, unkind work cultures.
- Poor organization and illogical systems.
- A culture in which inauthenticity reigns.
- Gossipy and judgmental team cultures.
- Intense emotions are flying around, such as frequently angry customers or bosses.
- Salesy energy.
- Lack of any connection to nature, such as a windowless work area.
- Insensitivity to the earth or animals.
Is Self-employment a Fit for Us?
As you can see from the above list, being in control of our own work environment and decisions is looking quite good for us. Which makes you wonder about self-employment, as it did for me.
But is self-employment a fit for you in other ways? Some answers and ideas are here:
Self-employment Ideas for Introverts (and much of it applies to HSPs too).
Career Ideas for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People (HSP)
It’s so much about the work environment and team culture plus what makes your heart sing, so it’s really unique to each person, and thus tough to list all the possible jobs and what will work for you specifically.
Nevertheless, I’ll give you some pathway ideas to explore and see how your heart responds. I’ve chosen ideas that could make good use of your natural talents of tuning in deeply.
Here are some popular careers that real-life introverts and highly sensitive people have enjoyed. To be sure, not all jobs in this list will work for you because there are many other things that have to fit as well — the team environment, your other strengths, your values, and more.
This is not a list of what will work for you specifically.
It’s a list of ideas to explore and see what fits for you.
These ideas are all real possibilities in the real world market:
- Health care professional with a focus on one-on-one interactions (occupational therapy, massage therapy, midwife, acupuncturist, alternative healer)
- Quiet lab jobs (not the hectic hospital environments)
- Human services professionals/counselors focused mostly on one-on-one interactions
- Psychological sciences researcher/educator (psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics)
- Project coordinator/ project manager
- Leadership roles in healthy/ organizations where authenticity, caring, and depth are valued
- Designers and illustrators (graphic design, illustration, web design, landscape design)
- Videography or photography
- User experience (UX) design/ customer experience research
- Anything involving a lot of research or writing, such as grant writing or résumé writing.
- Nature-oriented work (ranger, guide, landscaping)
- Training people about something you care about.
- Accounting/bookkeeping/tax prep
- Veterinarian and other animal care
- Copywriting/ online content creator (for topics you care about)
- STEM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
- Archivist or librarian (Beware that some library roles are now quite public oriented, like running a community center, but there are a variety of roles, some more quiet than others.)
- Executive coach/ leadership coach
- Campaign strategist for social justice or climate causes
- Social media/online content manager (There’s a big demand here.)
- Database administrator
- Cyber security analyst (In big demand. A short training could get you in the door.)
- Yoga teacher
- Spiritual counselor, spiritual teacher, or minister
- Behind-the-scenes no-nonsense get-it-done person at a great organization (Not a real title but it might get you thinking of good ideas. Sometimes it’s best to start with the cause or organization you care about and then see what sounds good to you among their staff positions.)
How to Choose Your Best Career Path
Now you have a few ideas that intrigue you perhaps, and a bit of a sense of what might fit. But how do you choose?
If you want to know what will fit for you personally, and we’re all unique, there are ways to uncover your best path.
I found that knowing more about my values, my strengths, my personality, and my own practical needs were critical to putting the whole puzzle together.
For example, you might not actually know if you qualify as an introvert and/or a highly sensitive person, based on well-researched assessments. (Here’s an established HSP quiz.)
You also might not know what these words actually mean and how it plays out for you specifically in your work life and beyond. Once you more deeply understand things like that about yourself, it can open up new insights and ideas. (Learn some key basics about introversion and high sensitivity here.)
Once you have all the puzzle pieces on the table, you can start to see how it can come into focus all together. If you never let yourself see the puzzle pieces, that’s part of why you can’t see the picture come together.
It’s Not So Easy to Choose the Best Career Path. This Can Help.
I discovered that figuring out those puzzle pieces is not easy to do by yourself, so you’ll end up thinking it can’t be done. I’ve seen this over and over.
With a little outside help, and some simple steps to walk through together, the picture can come into focus. What a relief. (Most people think the answer will just appear, but here are some myths and truth about finding your career path.)
Taking the time to look closely before choosing is an investment that saves you so much heartache and expense down the wrong road.
To choose well, you could get support from a career coach (for far less than the cost of getting the wrong training for the wrong direction).
There’s also a way to walk through the career clarity steps in a course.
I’ve created an online course to help walk you through the steps:
Check out my course, “Simple Steps to Uncover the Best Use of You Now”.
Don’t Dismiss Your “Crazy” Ideas Too Quickly
Maybe you think you don’t have good ideas because you think your secret dreams are too unrealistic. It might be more possible than you think.
I’m not about following any wild idea without exploration first. I’m both optimistic and practical.
There are ways to explore ideas before investing down a path. I explain the exploration method in my course. More >