Did you ever stop and remember what you wanted to do as a child when you grew up? I know I had grandiose dreams of everything from a Marketing Executive, to Lawyer, to an Actress or CEO. As I grew older I started to think of these careers in terms of college degrees and annual incomes and which careers could be sustained long-term.
In high school the stress began with the pressure of what I wanted to do for a living so that I could select an academic major and a good college to match. In my zeal to be successful, I focused on a major that fit my likes and ability to sustain long-term. But my zeal and the economy got the best of me and my ambition took me down a very unfulfilling career path.
As many of us start out, get married and have children as we build our lives, the focus from your dreams of what you wanted to do with your life are often distracted by the responsibilities of mortgages, diapers and food on the table. We become so distracted with addressing all of our responsibilities that we often forget about what we felt would really make us happy. The focus on meeting these responsibilities translates into achieving a higher income or promotion at a job that we may have settled for coming out of college rather than going in the career direction we felt would make us the most happy.
As the kids grow a bit older and their needs become more expensive, we start to settle into our careers thinking that we don’t have the time or the ability to focus on any kind of career change or entrepreneurial endeavor. We settle in for the long haul, always thinking we have more time than we really do. Before you know it, your kids are looking for their own college degrees and career opportunities or planning their own weddings and mapping out the perfect life. The good news is, it isn’t too late if you are prepared to fight for yourself and go after what you really want.
I made all of the mistakes noted above by putting everyone and everything ahead of what I really wanted, and for the longest time, I had it buried so deeply that I wasn’t even really sure of what I really wanted anymore. I was stuck in a job that made me so miserable that I ended up getting sick. As I spent time recovering, it gave me the time that I desperately needed to focus on what I really wanted. To this day it amazes me how hard that process really was. What is it that I really wanted? What do I like to do? What motivates me.
Making a list of all the things that I had enjoyed in my career really helped. I loved working with people, I’m an extrovert, I enjoyed helping people and organizations become successful, I was an absolute freak for putting together plans and organizing people and paths to get the plans done and training was a big passion of mine. But the thing that always got me out of bed in the morning was strategic marketing. The idea that by putting the right plan into place by focusing on a set of principles often directed by psychology, would trigger consumers to purchase a product or service was incredibly electric to me. The problem was, over the course of my career, I rarely got to do those things that I enjoyed most.
I decided to go back to the field of marketing. My first true love. I desperately needed to be in a career that completely fulfilled me. Something that got me excited to jump out of bed in the morning and take the world by storm. For the first time in my life I decided to put myself first and bet on ME. I left the job that made me physically sick and gathered all of my pennies together and decided to open my own company and never looked back.
Honestly, it wasn’t easy and there were more times than I care to admit that I was absolutely terrified, but the thing that sustains me during the hardest of times is knowing that I am being true to myself and true to what I want in my life and how I can to make a difference. So, this Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for Shakespeare’s inspirational phrase, “To thine own self be true.”