I can’t even begin to tell you how long I’ve dreamed of starting my blog. It was truly my first business dream. I stumbled into starting my graphic and web design business, but my blog – that was my first entrepreneurial dream. Well, as a business owner anyways. I had entrepreneurial dreams as a teen, but once I started my business, the first thing I dreamed of doing someday was starting a blog. That dream is one that has stuck around to this day.
So here I am, finally writing my first blog post, and I wanted to take this time to share the story behind my mission and what to expect out of this community.
I was steered away from my creative dreams as an artist and designer
I always wanted to be an artist. Since the age of 5, my dream has been to be an artist. When I reflect on those childhood dreams, I envisioned myself living in a bigger city and selling my artwork in a gallery. Or maybe even owning the gallery. The details of my childhood dream aren’t completely clear, but I knew I wanted to be an artist.
But something happens when you begin to approach adulthood. Suddenly your childhood dreams are no longer cute. You’re told to choose something more practical.
And that’s exactly what happened to me.
I had spent my high school years taking every year of art I could, working as a graphic designer at the local newspaper, and earning awards for both. I had a passion for art and design.
But that didn’t matter when it came time to explore the degree and career I would pursue as an adult. The message I was getting from society, the education system, and my parents was to pursue a degree and career that would offer more stability than art. Meaning, take the same path as everyone else – go to college, get a 4-year degree, maybe even go to grad school, and then pursue the same career for life, consistently save for retirement, and retire in your late 60s.
So I explored other career options in high school but ultimately found myself returning to art. I was still flip-flopping between art and design, with design being a somewhat more practical option. My parents flew me out to visit an art program in Portland.
I loved the PNW, the culture, the feel of being in an art environment. But after my parents had flown me out there, they decided they didn’t support that decision and would not financially contribute to my art education. It felt impossible to do on my own unless I wanted to take out large amounts in student loans.
I felt lost
I can’t even begin to describe the years that followed after having my dreams crushed. The story is messy and not that interesting. I felt utterly and completely lost after being steered away from my passions and onto the traditional career track.
I explored so many other career options, degrees, attended several colleges, took time off, and still felt nowhere closer to work that felt right. I spent so much time searching and seeking out my purpose, but the traditional career search methods weren’t helping me.
I felt this traditional path wasn’t meant for me, but I didn’t know how to get off it. I had been led to believe there wasn’t another way, but all the while, I felt I was meant for something more and I yearned to create again.
And finally, I knew I had to get out. The patterns were repeating themselves and they weren’t serving me. I felt trapped and unfulfilled. The cycle had to be broken.
I needed to escape, so I took the leap
While working and going to school online full-time, potential clients started approaching me for design work. That’s all it took to put an idea in my head. I decided to launch my business offering graphic and web design (because I still felt like I had to do web design to be successful as a designer). That belief, among others, led me to a degree in computer science to supplement my design skills.
After a year and signing a couple of large upcoming projects, I leaped and quit my job. It seemed like my path out.
I felt more fulfilled, but still wasn’t living out my purpose
I did find more fulfillment in my creative business than in traditional employment, but there were still so many unfulfilled dreams that I didn’t feel I had the time or energy to pursue. For several years, I worked with local clients while putting off all the bigger dreams I had. Stumbling into this business still wasn’t the work I was meant to do. It had aspects that fulfilled me, but it wasn’t my purpose. Always working in my business didn’t leave me with the energy to create my bigger vision.
I used my maternity leave to pivot in my business
Finally, I had the time and space to dream about what I truly wanted when I scheduled a maternity leave after the birth of my daughter. I started to create a new vision for my business.
During that time, I made a lot of changes and investments in my business. I did end up with my highest earning year, but I was still scattered across too many unfulfilled dreams. So I committed to doing even more introspection and made more changes in my business.
I realized self-discovery and personal growth had the greatest impact on my dreams
This is when I realized the investments in my personal development had been the most valuable. They are what moved me closer to my dreams. So I threw myself even more into my personal growth with the help of coaches, programs, and work I felt pulled to do on my own. My old dreams of being an artist reemerged. I started to make art again. I went deeper into rediscovering and reconnecting with myself. I stripped back all the programming and expectations from external influences. I got really clear on the things that mattered most to me and what I envisioned for my life versus what I “should” be doing with my life.
This work led to massive transformations in the work that I do, in feeling connected to my purpose, in spending time doing the things I love that leave me feeling whole, and in creating a life that feels like my own. For once in my adult life, that feeling like something is missing that I constantly seek to fill no longer has such a hold on me.
So here I am today, more focused on my dreams than ever before and finally launching my blog that I have dreamed about for the last 7 years.
Lessons from my story
As we grow older and go through more and more life experiences, we learn so much. I feel like I have already learned so much as a woman in her early 30s that I know the years ahead of me will be filled with many more lessons learned and much more knowledge gained.
However, the amount of time it took me to learn some of these lessons did feel like a lifetime while I was in it. It was my entire adulthood plus some teenage years that it took me to finally connect to and live my purpose.
The pain I experienced feeling lost following conventional wisdom and knowing that my bigger purpose and dreams were still out there lit a fire in me to help other women who were battling the same feelings. I had found my purpose in my struggles. If you relate to any part of my story, here is my message to you.
Success isn’t what you achieve, it’s how fulfilled you feel
This is the heart of my message. Traditional career guidance centers so much around what you can achieve. Usually, that’s financial security, in the traditional sense of living a middle-class life with enough savings and investments to eventually retire. We’re often convinced that work we love doing can’t be financially rewarding, and therefore it isn’t work worth doing. But work is one of the key ways we can fulfill our purpose. It’s how we spend much of our time and it’s a primary way we contribute to the world.
I don’t believe you have to sacrifice your passions to find financial security or abundance. I believe you can pursue your passions and support yourself. I believe that passionate people are more likely to succeed because they are motivated and inspired in their work. We spend too much time of our life working to sacrifice enjoyment. I choose fulfilling work, and I hope you will too.
Define what success looks like for yourself
We’ve been told we all have to take the same path in life, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The conventional path may work for some – those who like to be told what to do. But if you’re here, you’re probably much like me – a rebel and a dreamer. You have to create success on your terms.
Some people may be able to find fulfillment working a traditional job that doesn’t light them up while pursuing their passion hobbies on the side for fun. For me, I need work that fulfills my purpose. For you, it may look different yet. The important thing is that you take the time to figure out what fulfilling your purpose looks like for you.
You don’t have to choose one thing or career for life
We’ve been sold this lie that we have to go to college and study the one thing we’ll do for the rest of our life. We’re beginning to see how that isn’t working for people. Very few people hold jobs related to their degree. Many are rebelling against the adage that the longer you hold a job, the better. People are job-hopping to not only keep things interesting but to increase their earning potential (how far is that yearly 1.5% raise going to get you when you stay at the job year after year?). People are starting side hustles and blogs to diversify their interests and their income.
These ideas are so attractive because so many of us are multi-passionate. We don’t have just one interest. We cannot be fulfilled by one career for life. We can entertain our multifaceted nature by changing careers at any point in our lifetime, by doing other work on the side, or simply making sure to make time for our hobbies. You don’t have to choose one thing.
Your dreams are out there waiting for you
If you dream of something bigger or have a niggling feeling that you’re meant for more, don’t shake it. Those dreams are meant for you. They stick with you for a reason. They won’t leave you alone because you are meant to pursue them. It doesn’t matter if it’s taken you 7 years as it has for me to launch this blog, or if you went 13 years without making art as I did, or if you let your dreams go for years more than that. If a dream is still following you after all these years, then you must pursue it. If they’ve stuck with you that long, those dreams aren’t going anywhere until you do something about it.
Self-discovery and personal growth is some of the most important work you can do
The way we obtain the knowledge to help with the first four lessons is to do the self-discovery and personal growth work. Getting to know ourselves and what we want out of life and finding the courage to be ourselves and pursue our dreams and desires is the path to feeling whole and fulfilled.
If you feel like something is missing, you owe it to yourself to do this work. I would argue that everyone should do the work.
Fulfilled and self-expressed people are how we change the world
Our society isn’t conducive to this work. Conforming and following the same path as everyone else is what is encouraged. This works to support our patriarchal structure, but it doesn’t serve the individual. I would even argue it isn’t supportive of a healthy society.
I believe that if everyone did this work, we would have a world of people who are happier, better at work, as parents, and out in the world having more positive interactions with others. It’s a ripple effect that results in everyone feeling more loved and accepted and free to be themselves and do the things they love. When we have a world of happy and fulfilled people, I believe we will do a better job of taking care of each other and the planet.
I’m happy to meet you and welcome you here! I would love to hear your take away from this post. How do you define success? What does it mean to you to be fulfilled? What is a dream that has stuck with you for years?