DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Dr. Sally Gelardin

Whatever work you do is most effective when you are in your environment of choice.  We can run around in circles trying to be successful in our work and personal lives, but if we want to be "human beings," rather than "human doings," then we need to slow down and reflect upon what is really important to us. Life is too short and frustrating or too long and boring for us to ignore our unconscious yearnings. Here is an activity to "Create Your Ideal Environment NOW!"


You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"*

Imagine yourself in your ideal work environment. Here's what I would write, " I sit in my writing garden under dappled sunlight, inviting others to share their life stories. Together we bask in filtered light, figuring out how to create the future by reflecting upon the past and being fully in the present. "

The clearer your vision emerges, the more likely it will come true! At least that's what happened to me. When you can articulate your ideal work setting to others, you are even closer to creating that environment.

Purpose of Presentation
Envision your ideal work environment by tapping your unconscious.

Learning Objectives
*Reflect upon your ideal live/work setting.
*Describe your ideal live/work setting.
*Discuss your ideal live/work settings with others.

Writing or drawing utensils and paper, preferably large sheets of paper.

Envision your ideal live/work environment decade by decade for the rest of your life. Answer the following questions for each decade:

  • What does it look like?
  • What are the aromas?
  • Who is part of your ideal environment?
  • How much time do you spend with others?
  • Do you prefer groups? If so, are they large or small?
  • Do you prefer one-to-one interaction?
  • How much time do you prefer to spend by yourself?
  • What do you do when you are by yourself?
  • What do you do when you are with others?
  • What are your physical sensations in your ideal environment (i.e., do you sit, stand, move, write, work on the computer, how does your body feel, what are your emotions?)
  • What are the sounds? Tastes?
  • Do you work in a different location than where you live or in the same location as where you live?

  • Participants
    Counselors and career practitioners who would like to help themselves and their clients find satifying work in environments of their choice.

    Setting (classroom, group seating, etc)
    Cafe-like setting - round tables, group seating

    Time Required
    Can be anywhere from one hour to a day-long process.


  • Creating Space to Share with Others

  • I can't believe most people like to spend most of their time indoors in offices. Yet, that's where many people do their work. I can't believe that people like to stand on their feet all day. Yet, many teachers have knee operations by the time or before they are ready to retire. What are we doing to our bodies and to what end? Is there another way? By envisioning our ideal environment, maybe it will materialize, resulting in satifying work for ourselves and for those who enter into our environment of choice. That's what happened when I envisioned Cafe Philo (a philosophy cafe for career practitioners who were also poets or authors) several years ago at a NCDA Conference. Here's what happened at Cafe Philo.

  • Creating Space To Offer Career Services at Conferences

  • Even before Cafe Philo, I envisioned Cafe Vitae, an environment at conferences where I offer complementary job search tips "Vitae" is plural of "vita" which is a professional resume, often used by doctors and educators. "Vita" is derived from the Latin word, "life". Imagine creating a work environment to celebrate "life"! Every year, at the Professional Businesswomen's Conference, I offer Cafe Vitae, a career, caregiving, and self-care service.

  • Creating Personal Space

  • I created a collage of Cafe Gratitude (a real cafe in the San Francisco Bay area), which hangs on my dining-room wall. I feel gratitude for living in environments of my choice. My husband built for me a little garden filled with lavender and jasmine. I invite clients and friends to sit and talk at a canopied table in my garden. I also meet with clients and friends at outdoor cafes.

  • Creating Live/Work Communities

  • Have you heard the term "LiveWork Space?" I envision a live/work eldering community, in which active elders live in "green communities," within walking distance from the corner healthy food store, and provide educational workshops for the community. What is your "live/work space" of choice?

  • Creating Personal Space Wherever You Are

  • While your dream is formulating, you still need to live in the here and now. Creating a satisfactory environment in your current situation is equally important to creating an ideal space for the future. My little garden setting is available to me now. Even more immediately, I work at my computer near a window with filtered light casting patterns on a little balcony. My computer screen has images of nature. I listen to peaceful music as I work at my computer.

    When I was helping my almost 88-year old mother move from a home she had lived in for 40 years, emotions were high and scheduling was tight. To maintain balance, I took a half hour every day to jog in the early morning, and listened to uplifting music on my IPOD as I was packing.

    Take few minutes to dream about your work or "live/work" environment of choice. Envision the colors, shapes, aromas, light patterns, how you move in the space, who else is part of that space, how you are interacting with others in that space, what sounds you hear, what you are feeling as you envision this ideal environment. What would you name this space in two to five words?

    If you cannot think of what your ideal environment is like, reflect upon environments that you like - i.e., walking on a favorite path, window-shopping, looking out upon mountains or water. I recently received an email from "Yelp" in San Francisco. I had written a review on a shop for that blogging site of reviews of favorite places in San Francisco. The question of the day was
    " Places of Reflection & Quiet in San Francisco?"
    Reading that question reminded me that I like to visit and often meet with clients at quiet outdoor gardens or public areas. Where do you like to visit or meet friends or clients?

    Assessment of Learning Objectives
    Draw your ideal enviroment on a large sheet of paper.
    Name this space in two to five words.
    Describe your environment of choice to others at your table.

    What was the experience of doing this exercise like for you?
    Ask others at your table what it was like for them. Discuss what steps you might take after the workshop to implement your ideal workspace and to maintain balance in your current situation.

    *Dr. Seuss was a philosopher who wrote children's books. Visit the Dr. Seuss National Memorial. He was born in my home town of Springfield, Massachusetts.

    **An in-depth article on building a global community can be found in VISTA's online publication, which is posted on the American Counseling Association and National Career Development Association websites.
    DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.