From Robert Frost’s classic poem “The Road Not Taken” to Gwyneth Paltrow’s 1998 flick Sliding Doors, pop culture has long been enamored with the “what if’s” of taking a different path in life. Hindsight might be 20/20, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because those choices all led to my current purpose-driven career. Want to banish regrets and see your career soar? Start by trusting your gut above all. Here are four ways to start listening to your intuition at work:

Recognize that you have it. Do you think intuition isn’t real, or that it’s just reserved for those with an extra dose of spiritual awareness? The truth is that we can all access it. Lynn A. Robinson, a nationally-recognized intuitive adviser, author and speaker, believes that intuition is “a ready source of direction available to all of us; an invisible intelligence that animates our world and helps guide our lives. When we follow its wisdom, we are led to success, happiness and inner peace.” Her books start with the premise that every person can access their intuition and develop it for practical use in everyday life.

Pay attention to your body. Let’s say you are at a career crossroads, trying to decide between two new job opportunities. Your brain has urged you to create a pro and con list about each role. On paper, one job clearly looks better than the other – greater compensation package, the company has a more recognizable brand that would impress friends, and free lunches are served in the employee cafeteria. However just thinking about that job makes your stomach hurt and causes a spike of anxiety. The other role offers slightly less money with a smaller organization, but you smile when you’re considering it, and your whole being feels lighter. Your body knows which opportunity is in your best interests, and is trying hard to give you clues. Trust it and make the decision that literally feels better.

Learn to recognize the signs. My intuition manifests in two ways – sometimes as a thought bubble, like you might see come out of a character’s head in a comic book panel, and more frequently now as an inner voice. It’s not particularly loud, but that voice is insistent and confident. When I owned a PR firm, it was 100% correct about which clients to work with or avoid, and after a few missteps of trying to override it, I finally listened. On my birthday in 2014, I was offered two jobs – one with a $2 billion company that acted like a start-up, which would require lots of work, and the other with a huge corporation less than two miles from home where I’d be part of a larger team. My inner voice knew the first job would be harder, but so much more interesting and exciting that the other “cushy” job. So, I took it. That proved to be absolutely the right move, and I’ve thrived professionally and personally in this role.

Test it out. If you’re questioning the validity of basing career decisions on your gut, test it out when the stakes are smaller. Get quiet for a moment so you can really “hear” yourself. That means shutting off smart device notifications and stepping away from any technological distractions. You may want to clear any other thoughts out by meditating for a few minutes as well. Now come up with a work-related decision that needs to be made, whether it is about how to best pitch business to a new client or ask someone you admire to serve as a mentor. In that quiet, open state, ask yourself how to proceed and see what comes to you. Act on that inner wisdom and see what happens. If you had a positive outcome after trusting your gut, utilize intuition more frequently moving forward. Intuition is like a muscle; the more you work it out, the stronger it gets.   

Want to learn more about accessing your intuition? Robinson’s book Put Your Intuition to Work is a great place to start.

How has listening to your intuition impacted your career?

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