At the beginning of 2018, it seemed like everyone was opening a new business.
Whether it was a new hair care line for women of color, creating handmade jewelry, or starting a new blog, millennials around the country bombarded the US Patent and Trademark Offices to begin building their own empires. I can't lie. I was one of them. After a small intervention I never saw coming, I realized that living your dreams and getting out of your comfort zone was the new wave.
A wave that I desperately needed to begin a purposeful life.
Last year, I was a full-time employee at a non-profit organization that provides mental health services to adoptive and foster care families across the state of Maryland. My career was rewarding, and I woke up every morning feeling like I was a part of something greater than myself. One day, I ran into one of my co-workers in the break room. She told me she recently received a certification in Professional Certified Coaching (PCC), and wanted to offer me a FREE consultation. I thought to myself, "A life coach?"
I was a little hesitant since she was my co-worker, but after she reassured me that the consultation required no commitment, and we could meet outside of work, I agreed. I didn't have anything to lose. She would either tell me something I didn't know or confirm what I already know.
It turns out, she did so much more. We were knee-deep in conversation when I realized I needed this session more than I'd ever admit. "I want people to take me seriously," I blurted out.
Her voice remained calm and steady as she replied, "Do you take yourself seriously?"
My wardrobe consisted of worn sweaters and flats, and I opted for a messy bun more often than I should. I had a steady career but I lost focus on the things that brought me joy. My passion for writing hit a brick wall. There I was, dedicating all of my energy towards someone else's dreams all while mine were sitting on a piece of paper tucked away inside my journal. No, I wasn't taking myself seriously, so how could I expect anyone else to?
Although I built a small following for my blog and brand, LadyLaura.co, I found myself in a cycle of mediocrity that I didn't realize I was in. After our session, I experienced a mixture of emotions that felt like passion, eagerness, and surprisingly guilt. I felt so guilty that I let all of my personal branding goals fall so low on my priority list. I didn't quite know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew I needed to start making changes quickly. Below are the three steps I took to leading a more purpose-filled life.
Saving $5,000 In Less Than A Year
One major hurdle I needed to overcome at the time was money. I needed to work a full-time job to sustain my lifestyle. I was living in the Washington D.C. Metro Area where the cost of living is pretty high. Instead of focusing on the amount of time I needed to complete my goals, I began focusing on saving money to invest into my marketing and product development. "Money can be made anywhere," my new life coach said.
I didn't quite understand her. She then forced me to think about all the extra time I had during the day, and said:
"A shortage of money or opportunity isn't the issue, your shortage of drive and dedication is the only thing that will hold you back."
I secured a part-time job at the mall where I only worked weekends. I had those checks directly deposited into a savings account that wasn't linked to my checking, so I wasn't tempted to spend it. I also secured a babysitting job on Care.com that allowed me to earn an additional $500.00/month. I was always busy. I was always tired, but I was making money. Every day was a step closer to my goal.
Quitting My Job
I was working as an Executive Assistant. My job was very demanding, but I had the pleasure of working with an amazing management team who taught me so much. I never planned on quitting my job when I initially started my plan. I just wanted to save the money. The more money I was saving, and the more I thought about my career, I realized I wasn't happy after all.
Although I loved the people I worked with, I wasn't quite sure I was passionate about what I was doing everyday.
I started waking up dreading the same routine, the office politics, the same job title. I had been working there for four years, so this was no easy split. In fact, that's exactly what it felt like - a breakup. I kept putting it off. It was awkward for me, and I knew I would be emotional about it. I scheduled a meeting with my boss, and I finally got the courage to quit. She was shocked to say the least, and mostly concerned that I would leave a job that was stable and offered me a steady stream of income. "How will you survive?"she asked.
With every ounce of confidence I had in my body, I assured her that I would figure it out.
Moving Out Of State
Saving money was easy. Quitting my job was bearable. Moving out of Maryland? Not something I was ready for. I am originally from Virginia and moved to Maryland when I was about 17 years old. I spent all of my adult life in Maryland. It was the place I called home.
That was until I woke up one morning and realized that I hardly had any friends there. All of my family members were back in Virginia. I spent most of my time working and connecting with people via social media. The only thing tying me to Maryland was my job. Yep, the one I just quit. It was time for a change of scenery. Although I knew I would miss Maryland, I knew I needed to move to an area that would allow me to live comfortably while I built my career as a writer.
After about a year and a half of pure hustle and risk-taking, I am now living my dreams. If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be writing full-time, I would have laughed...awkwardly. I have always known what I wanted to do deep down inside, but I was always told that writers don't make any money. I was told I should take a more lucrative career path.
As I look back at all that I have accomplished so far this year, I am amazed at the amount of strength and vulnerability it took to do what I did. Getting out of your comfort zone and turning your whole life upside down is not an easy task. It requires diligence, passion, and discipline. You will spend many lonely nights, sacrifice relationships, and have weak moments, but there is nothing greater than living a life full of purpose.