Mindfulness at Work: A Career Professional’s Perspective

By Roxanne Farkas

Mindfulness: What is it?

Within the world of work, we face multiple demands and pressures on a regular--even constant--basis. We’re juggling multiple (and changing!) priorities, balancing competing demands for our personal and professional goals, and handling routine conflict and chaos.


More than meditation or simply paying more attention to our lives, mindfulness is “the intention to pay attention to each and every moment of our life, non-judgmentally,” through the focused development of awareness (Center for Mindfulness Stress Reduction FAQs, 2014). Mindfulness includes “purposeful action, focused attention, grounded in the current experience, and held with a sense of curiosity” (Center for Mindfulness Stress Reduction FAQs, 2014).


My Connection to Mindfulness at Work

Participants in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs enter with stress, low motivation, bad health habits, and a deep desire for change. Eight weeks later, through workshops, practical exercises and practice, participants experience deep and profound change. I know, because I participated in the University of California, San Diego MBSR and experienced these transformations myself. I have incorporated mindfulness in my own career coaching and advising, helping my clients to practice and enjoy the positive benefits of mindfulness for themselves. As a result, I feel I like I am helping to create a more mindful world of work through the individual clients I help.


Connecting Mindfulness to my Practice

In my career development practice, I have engaged clients in journal writing, career mapping, and imagery meditation activities to focus on goal setting and career action planning. Activities like these and the following help my clients think more creatively, experience more hope, and feel more confident in their career discovery and development, and ultimately, the work world.


  • Journaling. If something has meaning, write it down. I draw futuristic images of what goals I would like to accomplish someday. I love to brainstorm ideas and personal goals. Writing helps me focus on what matters to me most.


  • Meditate at Lunch. Sit in stillness like a mountain. Life can be so chaotic at times that sometimes just to to be grounded in a relaxing pose will allow me to regain my energy. Use mini meditations to tune into the present and just be.


  • Charting Ideas and Interest. Draw a mapping chart of all the things you like to do, and create a powerful vision for planning the future. Look over your map. What are some themes, hobbies, music, and books you enjoy? Share your map with someone you trust, or who believes in you.


  • Practice Yoga/Running/Movement. Exercise reduces tension and clears the mind. If you have the opportunity to exercise at work - take it!


  • Breathe. Drink lots of water and breathe deeply. Try to stop for one minute every hour and become aware of your breathing.


Mindful Mindset Activities in Career Counseling

In a Discover Your Dream Workshop” I teach, I have students go through an image gathering exercise where I have them draw and predict a future seven years from now. As the facilitator, I offer guided prompts and create a peaceful atmosphere with my calm voice, appropriate music, and lowered lighting.


In my Career Peer Educator Program, we take a guided walking tour of the school campus. I help them draw attention to different aspects of our campus, and ask them to pay special attention to the moment-to-moment aspects of our walk. For example, the way the wind feels right now, or the many different sounds they can hear, right down to the sounds of their own footsteps on the paths.


A quick assignment I often give is writing a “gratitude email” to influential or inspirational staff, faculty, friends, family, or mentors.


In advising, I ask clients to share one favorite quote and explain what the meaning or value may be. In this way, I am encouraging deeper exploration and reflection than they might normally do.


During advising sessions, I will use focused breathing activities to help students focus their attention, relax, and create a more powerful state for reflection and action.


I frequently conduct advising outdoors or at one of the many community centers on campus to encourage students to notice and possibly connect with the many different resources available to them.


My office setting includes artwork, meaningful objects, and inspirational quotes which I refer to during advising sessions to inspire creativity and motivation.


Another favorite activity is creating workshops and panel presentations that focus on careers in wellness, public health, and alternative medicine. Special career panels include Careers in Wellness, Public Health, Alternative Medicine and Wellness Careers.


Mindfulness at Work in Organizations

With the rising costs of healthcare and a stronger emphasis on wellness, it’s easier than ever to participate in a mindfulness program through work. You can find mindfulness programs in Fortune 500 companies like Monsanto and Google, magazine publishers like Marie Claire (Klein, 2013), and as programs offered through company wellness programs.


Searching for mindfulness in your favorite internet search engine will produce a wide variety of results for further research. Likewise, several great books are available, and you’ll find several mindfulness apps available as well.


Now, as you finish reading this article, take a moment to pause, reflect, and notice your surroundings. Take a deep breath, slowly exhale, and allow your mind to wander...and when you’re ready, take one final, refreshing deep breath, stretch, and feel yourself re-energize for what’s next!






Center for Mindfulness Stress Reduction FAQs. (2014). Retrieved July 23, 2014 from: http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/Stress-Reduction/Faqs/


Klein, K. (2013). Why mindfulness and meditation are good for business. Retrieved from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-mindfulness-and-meditation-are-good-for-business/



Roxanne FarkasRoxanne Farkas, M.A., is a Career Advisor and professional career coach at the University of California, San Diego. She’s a Certified MBTI Practitioner and future Yoga Instructor who loves helping her clients and colleagues create clear, compelling visions of their amazing futures through a creative holistic and integrated approach to career advising. Roxanne may be contacted at rfarkas@ucsd.edu





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Amanda McFadden   on Wednesday 08/06/2014 at 05:12 PM

Thank you for this refreshing article, Roxanne. Reading it provided a mindful pause in my afternoon!

Deborah Gavrin Frangquist   on Tuesday 08/12/2014 at 06:16 PM

I especially appreciate the specific activities you suggest. So often clients perceive "mindfulness" as an overwhelmingly distant experience, but they will usually accept the suggestion to take a few breaths before or after a meeting or simply to get up and move around the room once an hour.

Nancy J. Miller   on Tuesday 08/19/2014 at 06:45 PM

Thank you, Roxanne. Great article! I plan to reference your article in my handout for my CEUonestop webinar in Sept. on "10 Ways to Model a Healthy Lifestyle for More Effective Career Services." In fact, last evening as I was walking and noticing the sounds of my footsteps on different surfaces I thought of an activity to share very similar to the one you mentioned. I am so glad to see you are using and sharing healthy practices with your students.

Lnda G. Robert   on Wednesday 08/27/2014 at 10:31 AM

Very well written article, Roxanne, as well as insightful and timely. I will reference you article in upcoming seminars.

Lee Dunn   on Monday 09/11/2017 at 05:01 AM

Hi Roxanne,
Thanks for sharing your real-life and 'down-to-earth' examples of incorporating and implementing mindfulness practices in a career-counselling context. Your ideas and methods have brought home to me the ease with which this can be done as well as shown me that, in some ways, I'm already doing this too! I intend referencing your article in my next assignment!
Kind regards, Lee

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.