As my birthday approaches, I can’t help but be reminded of the best gift I ever gave myself. Four years ago, I gave my two-week notice at my corporate job. I had been there for three and a half years and knew it was just a matter of time before I moved on in search of something else. For years I had been a job hopper. I’d land a job, be there for a few years before seeking out something else. For many years I thought it was because I was bored. Three years was the mark where I began to feel stagnant. I’d either search for a promotion opportunity or leave the company altogether. I realize looking back that it wasn’t that simple.
I’m the kind of person who thrives on fulfillment. When I’d get a new job, the challenge of learning so many new things was fulfilling because I’m passionate about learning. Once that initial period of growing and learning began to slow, I’d begin to get bored in the monotony. In this particular job, I was always trying to find ways to learn. I’d challenge myself, seek out learning opportunities, and I did what I could to keep growing. I felt the itch coming on but felt that I had to make it work this time. It paid well and had good benefits. I was also in my mid-twenties and felt the need to conform. I felt like I needed to choose a career path and find a way to settle. Settle into a career that wasn’t just a job. Settle into adulthood and hold down my career path until I retired.
The thing is, it wasn’t working. While I did continue to learn, I felt like a caged bird. As a creative, my mind is always going. I was constantly coming up with ideas for ways to improve processes. I loved to take different approaches and find solutions. I tried to find ways for my creativity to be productive in the corporate setting. At the end of the day, my new ideas weren’t always welcomed or appreciated. My natural talents and gifts weren’t a good fit for the office setting I was in. I began to feel unappreciated and defeated. After having a breakdown due struggling with depression and feeling hopeless in many areas of my life, I realized I had to do everything differently.
I came up with a plan to quit my job in six months which just happened to be around my birthday at the beginning of December. That single choice changed the course of my life! I now had something to look forward to. I could have easily just submitted my resume for other positions but I knew that wasn’t doing anything different. Before applying to jobs I had the qualifications for, I decided to evaluate what I wanted. I made a list of the things I was good at, the things I enjoyed, things I was passionate about, what I wanted to be when I grew up, and how I could serve others. I realized the path I had chosen wasn’t the one I truly wanted. While it paid well, it also sucked the life out of my soul.
I really wanted to be a teacher growing up. I loved the idea of working with kids but I didn’t want to go back to school at that point. I began researching options that were more closely related to that desire. I ended up choosing to open an in-home daycare. For months I researched requirements, made a list of the things I needed and the things that would be nice to have. I dug into the different aspects of opening and running an in-home daycare. I evaluated the pros and cons. I ate, slept, and breathed it. Ultimately I decided to move forward with it.
On my birthday in 2013, I gave my boss my notice and decided to begin 2014 differently. The word spread quickly and I was flooded with emails from coworkers all over the country. I was surprised by how many of them congratulated me on my courage when I told them I wasn’t going to the competition but I was starting my own business. They confided in me how unhappy they were. How many years they had been with the company and they felt trapped. They thought it would better to just keep doing what they were doing than start over somewhere else at this point. I felt so bad for all of those who were sacrificing their happiness and fulfillment for the sense of security and the benefits their job provided. That just confirmed to me that I was doing the right thing. Had I not given my notice, that just as easily could have been me 10 years down the road.
I was incredibly excited as I packed up my boxes and said goodbye to my colleagues. I couldn’t believe it would be my last day stepping foot in that office as an employee. I was also terrified! I was doing something I’d never done and didn’t have one client lined up! But I was determined, informed, and had a plan. Within days I began interviewing families and giving them a tour of my in-home daycare. Within a week, I had my first family enrolled. By the end of the month, I had three kids in my care in addition to my own kindergartener. That was the beginning of a new life for me.
I spent the days fingerpainting, taking the kids to the park, teaching them sign language, and reading them stories. My house was filled with laughter and my daughter came home to friends to play with after school. The days were long and I was exhausted at night but it was incredible! I had planned for six months and made my dream a reality. I showed myself what I was capable of. I made a choice to leave the safety and security of my corporate job to find fulfillment. Even though I was terrified I did it anyway. I decided to go with it instead of looking back one day and wondering “what if” and it paid off in so many ways!
I only had my in-home daycare for five months. Unfortunately, something unexpected happened in my personal life which caused us to move. I had to close down my business but not my dreams. That experience showed me what I was made of and I decided to go back down that path of exploration. I began researching and studying things that I could do based on my talents, gifts, and passions. Somehow that led me to life coaching. I didn’t even really know what that was at the time. Once I started to look into it, I knew it was something I was meant to do.
After getting certified as a life coach, I began to explore what I could specifically dedicate myself to. I decided to combine my training with my life experience. I realized that I made a lot of choices over the years from a place of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear. I often went with what I thought was expected of me or what would make others happy. Over time, I lost my sense of self. Between making choices that weren’t in alignment with who I was and getting caught up in the day to day responsibilities of my life, I didn’t know who I was anymore. By choosing to step into 2014 differently and embarking on that journey of getting to know myself, I’ve been able to create an incredibly fulfilling life. That’s not to say it’s perfect but I’ve learned how to cultivate contentment. Regardless of the situation I’m in or the circumstances I face, I can find a way to navigate them because I know who I am and what I’m capable of.
Today, I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you to determine if you’re living your life in alignment with who you are or if you’re where I was. Are you living your life based on who you or others feel you should be? Have you realized that you’ve lost your sense of self somewhere along the way? If you have, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Acknowledgement is the first step towards finding yourself! This isn’t something that was easy but it was something I felt was necessary.
I never imagined my life could be this fulfilling five years ago. I was chronically depressed, completely hopeless, and had no sense of self-worth. Now I cultivate a positive mindset, know I’m a powerful and resourceful being, and know who I am. I dedicate my life to empowering women to discover their sense of self, tap into the power of knowing who they are, and building fulfilling lives from that place. I’m so grateful that I came up with a plan four years ago that got me to where I am today although I didn’t know it would lead me here at the time. I’m currently creating a plan that will require even more courage as I chase dreams so big they scare me in 2018. I know I’ll have to do things I’ve never done to get to where I’ve never been. I’m excited to bring you along for the journey and empower you to create your own Intention Plan to help you get clear on who you are and what you want in 2018.
Thank you for reading this until the end. My regular readers know I’m not one to write more than 500 words on a regular basis but every now and then, I’m inspired to share something that just can’t be contained to 500 words or less. I know those who are meant to find this will get the confirmation and encouragement they need. As always, I’m sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to support you in discovering who you are. ❤