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Once upon a time, I poured my heart and soul into developing a new team at work. I made contacts, built relationships, and worked tirelessly to change hearts and minds. I unwaveringly put blood, sweat, and tears into that job.
My team and I spent several years doing a job we believed was worthwhile and made a difference. And then one day leadership changed their minds; the vision and direction that my team had didn’t match up with an arguably out of touch leadership vision. Eventually I moved on from that job, into another that I loved even more, and really threw myself into. About five years in, I noticed the same issues creeping up. And once again, I started feeling sad and unfulfilled. So what gives?
The common theme here is that I put my time and energy into something that was never really mine to begin with. To add insult to injury, I was harshly reminded by a co-worker that it wasn’t mine quite a few times, too. I was plugging away at jobs that I was encouraged to “own,” “run with,” and “make mine” and an ever fickle management would change their minds. In a very much unspoken sort of way, it was as if I was being told what I had worked on wasn’t good enough, and it needed to be scrapped. It was spirit-crushing and the stress manifested itself in weight gain and panic attacks.
In hindsight, I had also let my career become my identity, allowing my self-worth be dictated by the changing tide. The truly sad part is that I know better. My identity is in Christ; not my job. I have to admit I was disgusted that I made a tall castle for myself out of my job, not once but twice. I never let it interfere with or overshadow my personal life, but I did let it become more of a focus than it should ever have been. In her book Money Making Mom, Crystal Paine says, “There are many, many things we can devote our time and effort to. There are a multitude of ways to succeed in life. But there are only a few things that truly matter in the long run.” This quote couldn’t be any closer to how I feel right now.
After a particularly troubling time at work this past year, I questioned where it all went wrong and prayed tirelessly, begging God to reveal what his plan was for me and guide me there. I searched for a sign, any sign, to help me get where God needed me to be in my life. Then, one day in my Facebook news feed, I saw an article titled, “Your Purpose is Not Your Job.” Do you ever feel like God is reaching out to send you a specific message? In that moment after reading that article, I was never surer that upon asking for guidance, God provides it to us.
The article’s author describes purpose as significantly more than a career. She states, “it’s a life statement that is lived into our titles, roles, and every aspect of our lives.” The article also suggests that you ask yourself a few questions: what do you care about, what do you enjoy doing, what gets you out of bed in the morning, and the big one, would you do it even if you didn’t get paid for it? Then, you should look into jobs that fit that criteria.
Khalil Gibran says it best, “Love is work made visible.” I absolutely adore crafting, writing, and graphic design. It’s actually amazing to me that I had never put two and two together before, and seen that these skillsets could combine to shape a viable career.
As of today, I am making zero income from either my blog or Etsy Shop (my shop doesn’t even open for another few weeks). Yet I am really happy because I’m molding something that is exclusively mine, speaks to my heart, and directly stems from what I feel is my purpose. It’s something that the nameless, faceless management can’t change their minds about and take away. It’s something that I am so proud to be working on. I can work on my terms, and be a happier presence for my family. My husband and I believe in showing our children first hand that in our family it’s not just ok, but highly encouraged to follow your dreams.
I haven’t quit my day job yet (and probably won’t for some time) but it sure would be amazing if this “side hustle” became my main gig. And I’m not afraid to work hard to get there.
If you’ve got the same inner tug that I had, and you’re not quite sure what to do yet, here’s my recommended reading list: