A few weeks ago, I ran into a lady at a coffee shop. She was there waiting to talk to the manager about selling her ceramic handmade coffee mugs inside the shop. After a few minutes of conversation she mentioned that she had just quit her job the week before to finally pursue her creative passion in ceramics.
She used “finally” because 25 years ago she was at a crossroads in her life with a decision about what career path to focus on in school. She had two choices and the school counselor needed to know her decision. After a lot of back and forth with herself, she went with the more practical, logical decision and decided just to let the ceramics dream go.
The next 25 years were filled with “shoulds,” but not a lot of feeling good or excited about her career. She took a risk to leave behind the practical path and go all in on this thing she loved, even though that path, at least financially, wasn’t as clear.
I love this story so much because no matter what happens with her ceramics business or how it morphs over time, she will never have the “what if” regret because she did it.
The reminder of this story, though, is that none of us are guaranteed another 25 years, or 25 days, or even 25 hours to do that thing that’s been pulling at our heart to do “someday.”
When the kids go off to college…
When you retire…
As soon as you get that certification…
Once things slow down…
Once you have a website…
The right time…
Who am I to even start this?...
The list goes on and on of why we don’t start that thing today. Believe me, because I have carried around a very long list of my own for over a decade.
It was a very slow build up, but one day I realized that my fear of not living out my potential and having the life I dreamed of and knew was possible, had become so much greater than my fear of leaving my safe, secure, practical, but unfulfilling job.
Like the coffee shop gal, I was at a crossroads - to stop complaining, be thankful that I had a job and do as best as I could until I dropped by son off at college and THEN I’d go do all the things I wanted. Or I could take a huge risk, leave my comfort zone, start doing the things that light me up, and make a plan for how to make a life I loved actually work and start living, not just surviving.
I share that story with you because that’s one of the big reasons for the start of Her Exchange. I want this to be a community supporting others who are at similar crossroads in their lives and need that encouragement, inspiration and ability to see what’s possible for them and their own lives to be the choice they want, not just the choice they feel like they should.
I have always struggled with what my purpose in life is. I’ve been stuck in that “I don’t know what I want to do” cul-de-sac for years. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on what the heck took me so long to make decision to stop just surviving life and attempt to really figure it out, a big reason is that I’m afraid to fail and I’m terrified to do it in front of other people. So, I just never tried anything with the effort and seriousness I needed to be successful and keep going even when I wasn’t.
But because action and making mistakes is how you’re able to figure it out, failing and doing it in front of other people is just part of it. I want women to know that they’re going to fail and this is a place to come for support to get back up when they do and hear about other people’s “failures” to show them they are not alone.
I heard someone say recently if you don’t know what your purpose is in life, to ask yourself, “What breaks my heart?” and that answer is your purpose.
For me, the answer to that question is a life where you simply try and get through the day. Where the highlight is maybe watching an hour of reality TV once the kids go to bed, but even that doesn't always do it because you know you have to get up and do the same thing in a few hours.
With technology and all the digital platforms to connect us, there is no reason why we can’t live like the people we envy on Instagram. We can have location freedom, time freedom and financial freedom. We can have a life we’re excited to get out of bed for. We can feel fulfilled in the work we do and the impact we make.
Whatever those dreams are for you, I want you to know they are possible and you can start to today, this very moment, taking just baby steps in that direction.
Life is too short. There are no guarantees. And you were meant for more than simply surviving through each day.
The first step is being aware of all those possibilities for you. To help you start realizing those and seeing the unique ways others are living out their best lives, I hope you will check out the website for our own stories as well as this list of some of my favorite books and podcasts to get your mind thinking about what’s all possible!