I get excited when people tell me they want to start something new or change something in their lives. I see change as a life-altering experience, good or bad. Over the years I have had numerous conversations with friends who have been in search of a new career. This post can apply to anyone, but I am really speaking to the stay-at-home parents who think they need to wait until their kids are in school full-time or out of the house before they can commit time to their own interests.
When my son was born, I quit my full-time job to become a stay-at-home parent. Since we could not survive financially on one income, I found a position working retail, nights and weekends. After a year of barely seeing my husband, I (and he) began to get sick of it.
"I have skills!" I told myself. "What do I need to do to work from home?"
I love to do research, so I began to check out ways to work from home. I found the obvious: candle companies, pyramid schemes, selling food from home, selling makeup from home... In my gut, I knew I would not be motivated enough to make cold calls and schedule parties on Friday nights. Plus, it wasn't me.
I was also disappointed because I had invested a lot of time and money getting my degree. Then again, I was a Communications student, a major in which I was placed because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I remember my advisor telling me that I was a "schizophrenic student" because I took a variety of classes instead of focusing on one major. At 20 years old, I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!
I am a notorious list maker and decided to put on paper what made me happy, what I love to do and what skills I had to offer a potential employer. I still remember what I wrote:
-I like to write.
-I enjoy working out.
-I am creative.
I became pregnant with my second child shortly after I made this list and became distracted by the life of raising a toddler and being pregnant, so I put my thoughts aside. Still working retail, I became more and more immobile during my second pregnancy. Long story short, my pelvis would dislocate every now and then and 5 months into my pregnancy, I quit my part-time job.
Financially, times were tough, but we made it through and after I gave birth I was reminded of my list. My pelvis problem had introduced me to physical therapy and practicing yoga.
Since yoga meant a lot to me, I created a new list:
#1 Take a post natal yoga class
#2 Advance to a regular class
#3 Work at a yoga studio at the front desk
#4 Become a certified Yoga Instructor
#5 Work at the studio as an instructor
#6 Freelance as a yoga instructor
#7 Open a private studio from my home
If you are like me, a job hopper who had spent most of her career in sales positions, the fact that I had one vision was exciting enough! I opened up the phone book (yes, the phone book) and began calling yoga studios. What did I have to lose? My husband was completely supportive of my idea and knew that quality time apart from the children would help me physically and mentally.
The first three phone calls I made were positive and the people I spoke with encouraged me to submit my resume and fill out an application. Ok, I expected that. I decided to make one last call and my eyes were drawn to a studio called YogAsylum. Interesting.
The owner, Pamela Bliss, answered and I spoke to her about being interested in working at the front desk of her studio. I rambled through a few points on my resume and spoke about my love of yoga. She seemed genuinely excited to speak with me and her next question floors me to this day, "Are you a writer?"
Fast forward 3 years. I am a writer and I have my own small business. I really love what I do and I know I am here because I asked myself one question:
What do I like to do?
In the exhaustion of life, it is easy (especially when you are home raising children) to take a position or spend your time doing something out of necessity. Trust me, I have been there. But if you can take small steps to discover (or rediscover) a career, why not start now?
These suggestions might not work for everyone and please note, I am a doer. I do not have the patience to sit around and wait for something to fall into my lap. I have always been fueled by some kind of passion and I knew it was somewhere under all those stretch marks and sales jobs.
#1-Ask yourself some questions:
What do I really enjoy doing? What gets me fired up? What places do I like to visit that make me happy and get me excited?
This step might take some time. Be honest with yourself. Just because you have your degree in finance doesn't mean you are interested in getting a job in finance anymore. Don't be embarrassed if you do not want to use your degree.
#2-Start small. Cruising the internet for your dream job is great research for the future, but dwelling on the fact that it can't happen right now is disheartening. In a world where we want everything instantly, sometimes you have to start small (and be small for a while) to get what you want.
-Based on the answers to question 1, get a part-time job. Gasp! When you take your dog to the vet, are you secretly excited to chat with the vet tech? Do you argue with the television when you are watching Parliament Live TV? Do you spend hours at the library and help strangers find books?
-If you cannot get a part-time job, find a volunteer position that will fuel your interest.
-Do you need to go back to school? It's okay. Knowledge is power! (And knowing is half the battle...)
#3-Get ready to be tired. This is not going to be easy and if you are working full-time outside of your home, you will need to make sure you are passionate about what you want to do. If not, you will inevitably fail. There will be times when you will put your children to bed and long for a cup of tea and a mindless movie with your spouse instead of working on your new career. But know that this short term exhaustion will be worth it!
#4-Create a space for your vision. Even if it is a small corner of your bedroom or your kitchen, create a work space for yourself. Get a cork board and post your goals where you can see them everyday. Add encouraging words and sayings that will motivate you.
#5-Carry a notebook everywhere. Be ready (and willing) for inspiration and write your ideas down.
#6-Find support/Befriend people. Find someone who is either in the field you want to be in or who has taken steps to create their vision. These people have been through the process and should have some great advice.
#8-Set short term and long term goals. I need goals in my life to motivate me and push me forward. If you are interested in becoming a pediatrician, a goal could simply be: Research schools that offer a pre-med program.
#9-Don't be afraid to change your goals. When I originally asked myself, "What do I like to do?" I said that I liked to write. Writing for the studio was just a way to get me to my ultimate goal of writing. Update your goals as you discover the vision for your career.
After I started working at the yoga studio, I realized that I could have my dream of working from home and becoming a writer. Because I was also committed to staying home to raise my children, I could not start full-time. I had to be patient and start slow. I was ready to take on this challenge and make it my own. I am a spiritual person and believe that I was meant to call that studio and be placed in that position. This experience propelled me forward and allowed me to build a portfolio and launch my business.
I know there are women and men out there who have passion and a desire to use their natural born skills to have a meaningful career. Sometimes, it takes living life a little to figure out what you are really meant to do.
Now ask yourself: What do I like to do?
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: candle companies, Career, Change, College Degrees, Communication Students, dislocated pelvis, Experiences, Freelance, goals, Inspiration, Jobs, Motivation, Opinion, Pamela Bliss, Parliament Live TV, passion, pregnancy, pyramid schemes, Retail, small business, soul searching, Stay-at-home Parent, volunteer, Work, writer, yoga, YogAsylum