Navigating Neurodiversity: A strengths based approach to finding and building a successful career
Updated: May 1, 2022
The vast array of career options can feel overwhelming! How do you know which job will be a good fit? Do you have the right skills to be successful? Most importantly, would it be something you would find meaningful and enjoy? Your Neurodiverse brain may create barriers and challenges in the workplace, but it also contributes unique qualities, skills, and attributes that will benefit your employers and help you live up to your potential.
START from your STRENGTHS
Your unique set of strengths, interests, and values should act as a guidepost in navigating the often bumpy terrain of the job search. Get familiar with your individual learning style and how to use this to your advantage in the application process, the interview stage, and later in your career.
Set Realistic EXPECTATIONS
Job searching is a process. It can be exciting but it can also be difficult, exhausting and overwhelming. Recognize this reality, and work with it. This doesn’t mean you give up, it just means you need to draw upon additional support, set-up motivating rewards, and utilize helpful organizational strategies to succeed in this big task.
Make Moves with MOTIVATION
What’s the purpose of working? What will a job help you achieve in the future or in the present? The most important thing you can do in the job searching process is clarify your motivations. Are you driven by the idea of making enough money to live independently or purchase things you want? Do you want to feel successful, fill your time with work that interests you? Do you just want people to stop bugging you about finding employment? There are so many reasons why we get jobs, but establishing why YOU want or need to do this is essential to accessing the motivation to succeed in this task. Once your internal motivation is clear, set up some concrete external motivators or rewards (a preferred activity, time to relax, a snack), and enjoy these after achieving each part of this process. Motivation is essential to keep on track and succeed.
BREAK IT DOWN
Job searching is a huge undertaking and often when individuals feel overwhelmed or confused they procrastinate. This may appear to others as lazy or unmotivated behavior, but really it’s an indication of being stuck. In order to get started with this vague and large process, you need to break it down into specific and manageable tasks. So where do you begin?
VISUALIZE the process
I like to use this brainstorming technique with my clients to help them visualize the connection between potential careers and how these align with their interests, strengths, values, and learning styles.
Create a graphic organizer, starting with a large bubble on the top of a blank page. This large bubble will represent your desired future life. Begin to fill it in with details you wish for your future(where are you living? Who are you spending time with? What activities are you doing?).
Now draw lines downward connecting that large bubble to many medium sized bubbles. In these medium sized bubbles write an interest, strength, or value you possess. Draw additional lines from each medium size bubble to smaller bubbles. In these smaller bubbles list potential careers or jobs that could relate to the interest, strength, or value listed above. Each small bubble contains specific areas to start your job searching process. But before you begin I encourage you to take an additional step.
Get input from others! Ask 2-3 friends or family members for their opinions on additional strengths or career ideas. Add these to your bubbles if you agree. Now you have an even larger list of potential career choices that are tailored around you and your unique self.
In Part 2: The Job Search, I’ll walk you through some ideas for breaking down and organizing the job searching process