In Pursuit of a Career with a Heart . . . How Can People Negotiate That?

March 1, 2012

By Shirli Kopelman

The negotiated journey toward a career with a heart is important to understand, because having such a career can yield not only long-term love for what one does, but a host of beneficial outcomes for individuals and organizations.

Having a career with a heart means experiencing more than mere job satisfaction; indeed it means feeling enduring love and passion for one’s work. This pursuit is possible in any profession and occupation at every point along the career path.

A career with a heart has three key dimensions. It embraces a protean orientation, has the capacity to generate strong positive emotions, and aligns with a person’s life beyond work.

  •         Career Driven by a Protean Orientation – Self-directed and aligned with personal values
  •         Career Generates Positive Emotions – Fuel, sustain, and energize engagement in work over the long term
  •         Career Fits with Overall Life – All pieces of a person’s life complement and nourish each other

Pursuing a career with a heart requires holistic, mindful negotiations. When negotiating mindfully, people adopt a nonjudgmental and reflective stance, which not only integrates the mind and the heart, but also engenders enhanced self- and other-focused empathy and positive regard. Mindful career negotiations go beyond instrumental aspects of a job (e.g., salary) to consider broader well-being. Developing and sustaining a career with a heart pivots on the ability to mindfully interact and negotiate with relevant others along the career path.

Our conceptualization of a career with a heart contributes a positive perspective that enriches the academic discussion of careers and provides practical tools for collaboratively enabling oneself and others in this pursuit.

When engaging in actions or conversations that touch peoples’ careers:

  •         Remember that people desire and deserve to love what they do.
  •         Be mindful, and holistically integrate the mind and the heart— this career is equally informed by deep-rooted values and positive feelings.

For more information see:

Kopelman, S., Feldman, E.R., McDaniel, D.M., and Hall, D.T. (2012). Mindfully negotiating a career with a heart. Organizational Dynamics, doi: 10.1016/j.orgdyn.2012.01.010