The Soul Work And Salary Work Approach

What is your soul work? What is your salary work? How can you do more of your soul work and, if appropriate, earn a salary? Let’s explore these themes.

Soul Work

What are the kinds of work that make your soul sing? There are several ways to answer this question.

Some people answer it by describing the specific activities in which they feel alive. They may be gardening, painting, teaching motivated people, caring for animals or whatever.

Some people answer it in another way. They describe their soul work in terms of their vocation and the vehicles they use to express it on the way towards doing valuable work.

A person’s vocation is their calling. It is what they are here to do. Their vocation remains constant, but they may express it through various vehicles during their life. People often do their soul work when employing a vehicle that plays to their strengths.

Dame Cicely Saunders, for example, loved to care for people. This eventually led to helping to give birth to the modern hospice movement.

She began her career by training as a nurse, but she suffered a back injury that halted that career path. Overcoming the setback, she became a medical social worker and got a job at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.

There she met a dying patient called David Tasma, whose plight revealed the lack of care for the terminally ill. A 40-year-old refugee from Poland, he was dying of incurable cancer.

David had no relatives so Cicely devoted many hours to talking with him about his life. Apart from exploring his own feelings, they discussed the need to create special facilities for people who were dying.

Denise Winn takes up the story in her book The Hospice Way.

“Although the hospital did its best, David suffered much pain and discomfort, both physical and mental.

“It was then that Cicely first mooted the idea of building a special hospital herself, to cater specifically for the very different needs of the terminally ill.

“David was thrilled to be the inspiration for such an idea and when he died he left her all his money (£500), saying  ‘I’ll be a window in your home.’”

Cicely embarked on her mission. She studied to become a doctor and served in several posts.

She then began raising the £500,000 necessary to build a specially designed hospital with highly qualified staff.

Ten years later she achieved her vision with the opening of St. Christopher’s Hospice in South London. Denise Winn wrote:

“A beautiful yet homely building, with a wealth of windows overlooking peaceful colourful gardens as well as a road that hums with life, St. Christopher’s is still the inspiration and model for the modern hospice movement.

“It is a remarkable testimony to a remarkable woman, now Dame Cicely Saunders. And, by the large sunny window in the reception, is a plaque for David Tasma.”

Dame Cicely created a fulfilling vehicle for expressing a vocation. This led to creating St. Christopher’s.

What are the specific kinds of projects in which you feel you are doing your soul work? Let’s assume you have some idea about your vocation. How can you find the right vehicle?

One approach is to focus on the specific activity that you find fascinating, have a strong feeling for and in which you also have a track record of finishing. Let’s explore these themes.


What are the things that fascinate you? What are those you want to explore? What are the activities you would pursue even if you did not get paid for doing them?


Looking at the activities that fascinate you, which of these do you have a feeling for? Which are you good at? Which are those where you feel in your element – at ease and yet able to excel? Which are those where you quickly see patterns?


Let’s return to the specific activities that fascinate you. Are there any in which you have a strong track record of finishing?

You may be good at helping people to succeed, delivering specific projects or producing some other kind of outcome. The result you produce may be physical, psychological or practical. The key is that – even if only a short time – you are able to deliver.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that for you feel like soul work. These can be specific activities or specific times when you feel like you are following your vocation and doing valuable work.

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Salary Work

What are the kinds of activities that feel like salary work? People do not mind doing grunt work, but they need to see how it contributes to doing great work.

Some people can reframe salary work. One person I know said:

“Today I am going to work with a challenging client. I will be professional and do my best to help them succeed.

“I reframe the work, however, as: ‘Today I am going to go out and earn enough money to pay towards building a conservatory.’ That is a good motivator.”

There are many reasons why something may feel like salary work. You may not enjoy the work or not see how it contributes to achieving a worthwhile goal. You may also feel that it is not helping your physical or psychological health.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that for you feel like salary work.

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Soul Work That
Also Earns A Salary

There are many models for doing soul work that also earns a salary. One approach is to do the inner work and the outer work involved on the way to doing such work.

The Inner Work

This involves looking within. It begins by clarifying the soul work you do that could be translated into a service or product that could help other people succeed.

Different people do different kinds of soul work that follow this path. They might provide services or products that involve enriching people’s lives, fixing problems, passing on knowledge or providing specialist services.

The Outer Work

This involves looking outside. You can clarify your perfect customers or employers. What are the characteristics of these people? What are the challenges they face? What is their picture of success?

Bearing in mind your soul work, how can you use your talents to help them succeed? How can you reach such people in a way the fits your values? How can you show how the services or products you offer have helped people to succeed?

You can, of course, simply do soul work that provides food for your wellbeing. If you want to do soul work that puts food on the table, however, it may also call for adding savvy.

Here is a link to an article about how to give to people and get paid for doing work you love.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific kind of soul work you would like to focus on doing.

Describe the specific things you can do to do more of this kind soul work in the future.

Describe the specific things you can do to translate this soul work into services or products that are attractive to customers or employers and also maybe get paid for doing such work.

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