I have found myself in a bit of a funny place lately. I feel confident in my core I am on the path I’m meant to take but the future feels a bit unclear. It’s as if I’m in between where I was and where I’m going.
Being in between can feel exciting because the possibilities are seemingly endless. It can also feel hopeless for those exact same reasons. Even though I have clear deliverables on my plate right now which are to help out at Keener Jerseys (the family biz) and have more time with the kids at home (something I’ve been longing to have for years), I also know that there is more out there for me. My motivation for shifting out of a regular 9 to 5 office gig and into working flexible hours for the company was a desire to explore what a non-traditional work life could mean for me. Can I carve out a path that is my own?
Last week, I heard someone speak on making career choices (and life choices) motivated by what their greatest contribution could be to the cause at hand. Not by what they could gain or achieve, whether in monetary or status terms, but what they could meaningfully contribute. It seems so simple and yet so rare that this is a person’s greatest motivation when decision-making.
Here’s something I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet, I am a member of a 12-step group and have close to 13 years of sobriety. I am grateful everyday for all of it. I bring it up only because it’s relevant to this topic. SO MUCH of what I have learned over these last 12+ years pertains to this exact topic: what can I contribute rather than what can I gain. How can I be of service?
You see, this thought process is not second nature to me. I have to work at it. My nature is to jump to the “what’s in it for me?” Instead of “how can I help?” Embarassing but true.
Reflecting on this over these last few days has reframed my thoughts and feelings on carving out my path. I have been focusing so much on what I can GET that will bring me happiness and fulfillment rather than what can I GIVE. Not intentionally, this is just the way my brain was unpacking potential opportunities.
When I focus on what my contribution can be rather than what I will receive because of it, it almost feels like a release from pressure. Like today, right now, my greatest contributions are helping the business in whatever capacity I can, whether that be writing, editing, social media or administration duties. When I make a contribution that has a positive impact at Keener Jerseys, I feel good. Really good, actually. And truth be told, there are ‘other duties as assigned’ that have popped up over the last few months that I’m not crazy about doing. Someone has to do them though, so why not me? I’m filling a void and making a meaningful contribution that’s resulting in getting shit done. That right there is a reason to be grateful.
Aside from Keener Jerseys, my MOST important contribution is holding down the fort at home and being present for our kids. Let’s be real, Jason works long, hard hours and is often up and out the door before anyone is awake and there are many late nights, too. It’s tough and frustrating sometimes but it’s the season of life we’re in. My newfound flexibility allows me to drop the kids at school and pick them up at 3:30. It allows me to volunteer on field trips and be home for sick days. It’s kind of invisible work that has no monetary gains and just goes as unnoticed for most of the world but it has significant value for our family.
Both of those ‘jobs’ are important, however I also know that this is not where it ends for me. I trust that more will be revealed and that I am on a path of discovery. It’s kind of like, I know there’s something coming up around the bend, I just don’t quite know WHAT yet. (Either that, or I’m just having a midlife crisis. As I said, more will be revealed.. ;)
I spent the better part of my 20s partying and having fun (until it stopped being fun) and then quit that lifestyle at age 27. I spent the next few years focusing on recovery and getting healthy. At age 30, I went back to school and spent the rest of the decade checking all the boxes I wanted to check. Education, husband, kids, career. And I managed to get all the boxes checked – which is awesome, and I’m so grateful for all my blessings… (do you feel a ‘but’ coming?)
Here’s the thing, because I wasted so much time in my 20s, then felt the urgency to get shit done in my 30s, I never really paused to consider what my passion might be. I felt the need to catch up to my peers and become a ‘grown-up,’ so I didn’t really ever stop to consider where my heart would lead me if I let it. I just had to hurry up and getter done. Once all boxes were checked, I was left with a feeling of ‘what now?‘
That brings us to today…
As I continue to navigate my path and uncover opportunities, I will keep my focus on what I can CONTRIBUTE rather than what I will receive. Being involved in something that fires me up is still of utmost importance but my motivation is just as (if not more) important.
How did you discover your life’s passion and work? Did you know from a young age where you wanted to land or are you a late bloomer, like me? I’d love to hear.