For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be passionate about my work. I didn’t want to work just for the paycheck. Waking up each day excited about work was my goal!
Before my son was born, I had great visions of life as a working mom. I would get up, drop him off at daycare, go to work, and then come home and be with him. That all changed the moment he was born.
I immediately knew I didn’t want to go back to my job. It just didn’t feel right. But at the same time, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to stay home full time, but didn’t know of any other possibilities. I decided to apply for jobs while on maternity leave, hoping for something closer to home. Otherwise, I would be returning to my job that was an hour away.
To my disappointment, nothing panned out by the time my maternity leave ended.
There I was, pump bag in hand, heading back to work. While everyone was welcoming me back, inside I was dying. I would sit in my office, crying and searching the Internet for a community of moms to connect with who would understand me. The isolation was real.
I felt disconnected from my work. I lacked creativity and joy. I was just there to do what someone else told me to do.
There had to be more to life than this!
A few weeks after my return to work, I was talking with a woman who had negotiated a deal with her employer to work part time while her kids were young.
This got me thinking! Working part time wasn’t an option, but I could ask to work from home two days a week, which would at least eliminate my commute.
I immediately got to work writing the perfect proposal, being careful to answer all the questions that could come up. There was no way they could say no to this!
My heart was crushed when the proposal was rejected.
Without thinking, I walked back to my office and sent an email to a part-time job I had applied to while on maternity leave.
Within minutes I received an email back—they were still looking for someone. Absolute divine timing! I got the job, and by the time my son was 6 months old I was working just three days a week with a 25-minute commute!
I worked at that job for a year, and whenever I think of that time it brings a smile to my face. It was the best decision I could’ve made!
I did eventually return to full-time work. I had another baby, and within a few years found myself back in the same unhappy spot.
Why was I at this place again?
I began to look inside myself for answers.
I started meditating and journaling. This broke me wide open. Dreams I had pushed aside started to come to the front of my mind. I couldn’t get them out of my head.
I wanted to be able to pick my kids up from school at 3 p.m. and not put them in aftercare.
I wanted to work from home, especially during the summer, so I could be with my kids more.
I visualized myself handing in my resignation, then enjoying summer days at the park and the pool.
Now the only problem was, how in the world to do this?
A few options came to me—return to part-time work, grow the network marketing business I had started, or start my own business.
So I did what I thought was best. I applied to jobs and interviewed. I didn’t get a single offer. Here I was, again, at a crossroads, except this time I was going to make a decision that had been inside me all along.
It was time to start my own business. What a scary but exciting decision! I handed in my resignation, and off I went.
Unsure of what to do, I journaled and asked myself these questions:
What have I done for other people? What did I enjoy the most? What am I really good at? Where are my strengths?
After spending 11 years in fundraising and event planning, I felt confident that working with nonprofits on their events would be a perfect fit for me.
My next step was to reach out to everyone I could think of to provide me with advice, connections, and, of course, work. My network became my lifeblood, especially those who left the corporate world to become entrepreneurs.
Surrounding myself with people who had done what I’m doing helped me keep the faith when things got hard. They knew what I was going through and gave me the support I needed.
Work didn’t suddenly appear from the sky. Through patience, consistency, and perseverance came clients, and work.
In the last year there were four months where I had absolutely no work. I was so defeated, but I kept reaching out to my network, connecting with new people, and putting myself out there.
Finally, seven months after leaving my full-time job, only having one client, running an event that was fun but brought in no income, and racking up credit card debt to pay our bills, I found steady income. Someone in my network knew I was looking for consistent work I could do from home. She recommended me and I got the job.
A weight had been lifted off my shoulders!
Today I am passionate about helping working moms do work they love. I host a podcast for working moms and teach working moms how to build a business on the side to free them from their current 9-5. I am also a consultant who helps nonprofits, the membership coordinator for a higher education company, and a part-time director at a local high school foundation.
Is this exactly what I want out of life? No, but it is a stepping stone to where I want to be.
My top priorities right now are being able to pick my kids up from school without having them in aftercare, spending our summers together at the pool, going to parks, and enjoying our time together as a family.
What I’m doing right now is allowing myself to fulfill those priorities. This is not the end of my journey—only the beginning.
It all started by following my intuition and knowing there was more for my life than what I was living. Meditating, journaling, connecting with my network, and being consistent are the reasons I’m excited to work every day.
We all have the ability within us to do what we love and live life by our terms. It’s just a matter of whether you are willing to take the action—especially the scary and uncomfortable action.
QUESTION: Since having children, have you felt a pull to change your priorities? Or are you “doing what you love” every day?
CHALLENGE: Examine your strengths and determine ways you can utilize them more fully in your life.
Edited by Ashley Dickson and Nollie Haws.
Image from Unsplash via PicMonkey.