I highly recommend following Positively Positive on Facebook. At least once a day, they post something that makes me smile, or reminds me of what is really important. Today, they posted a little exercise I decided to do called “5 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself.”
Typically, I have too many projects on my plate (thank you ADHD). My mind is almost always occupied with thoughts about how to finish projects and get a handle on those pesky things, like the budget, that seem to elude order and management. Sadly, there is not much time left over for contemplating the bigger picture things like my purpose in life or goals or even to formulate questions that provoke such thought. And now, as I reach a point in my life where it would be hard to start over and still keep food on the table while preparing to provide for future basic needs, I feel this panic. It’s not exactly a mid-life crisis. I have no desire to turn back the clock and be young again. But, I do feel like I need to make sure what I’m doing is what I’m meant to be doing; that I have a purpose and direction. Because if not, I need to change my life while I still can.
This requires a lot of thinking and question asking but I don’t always know what those questions should be. So, when I come across something like “5 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself,” I happily take the time to think and answer.
1. Are you keyed in to where your passion lies?
This is a hard question. In terms of work, do I like my job? Yes. Am I passionate about my job? I am passionate about several aspects of my job. I like coming to work every day. I like working for a university. I like working on websites – always dynamic and challenging. It’s rewarding to communicate a message effectively; to make a connection.
The hard part about this is that I am passionate about a lot of things. I love to make order out of chaos. This goes for closets and pantries, or talking a friend through a tough time. I love to tell a good, objective story and help people see a side they haven’t noticed before. I’d be equally happy taking crappy row houses and making them look nice or creating community gardens in vacant lots. There was a time when I wanted to be a psychologist and help people make sense of the horrible things that can happen to a person. The medium is different, but the principle is the same – take a mess and clean it up, take broken things and fix them, take chaos and organize it.
2. Can you pinpoint limiting ideas you have about yourself that keep you in a cycle of guilt or inaction?
Oh, the limitations aren’t in my mind. They’re very real. Worries about living in a cardboard box and not having food or health insurance definitely influence my decision making.
My current life is very tight packed with little wiggle room. Any decision to change my career and goals would require major changes in my life, and of my family. This makes embarking on a different path very difficult. I am confident that my family would support me, because they are awesome, but I had better really have thought everything out because there are other people traveling along on my life journey.
The article goes on to say, “the happiest and most successful people have tailored a life that concentrates on their strengths…” I do feel like my life is pretty well suited to my strengths. But lately, I worry that I’m not living up to my full potential. What if I was meant to do something greater than what I’m doing?
3. What is the underlying motivation behind your goals and dreams?
Right now, almost all my energy is put into maintaining our current situation so not much dreaming about where to go next. I can’t decide if this is OK, a natural plateau, or if I’m stuck and in danger of stagnation. I’ve tried to take some time to think about this but then I get sidetracked by something more fun to think about like The Tweed Ride or 18th Century costume.
4. Do you put yourself in the right environment to receive the right kind of support for your growth?
Oh yes. This I can answer positively. I work at a university that offers a wide variety of graduate degree programs, although not a master’s degree in historic preservation (sniff), but lots of others. I was nearly done applying for a master’s program in project management when I got too busy managing projects to go to school for project management (something funny about that). I wonder if that wasn’t for a reason. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that? It would be pretty horrible to go through the trouble of getting a degree in project management and then decide my purpose is something else. The support is there, if I could just decide where to grow.
5. Are you actively refining and “weeding out” activities that no longer serve you or hold your interest?
I wrote “cleaning out the mind’s closet” several months ago about this very thing. I don’t have a problem trying new things and facing new challenges. I believe you have to try new things often to keep your mind working well, sort of like exercise for your brain which has parts that only function when faced with something new. Writing a personal blog is great for this because I don’t have to write about anything in particular. I can focus on whatever new or old topic I feel like. I also don’t have a problem letting go of boring things that are no longer interesting or stimulating. If anything, I can’t help but to be constantly changing my activities.
However, changing the direction or purpose of one’s career/life is not quite the same thing as deciding I’m not going to paint any more. I play a key part in the support of my family. I can’t exactly say “I’m quitting my job because it’s not as exciting as it once was or I don’t find it spiritually fulfilling. We didn’t really need health insurance, did we? And, by the way, we’re going to have to move because we can’t afford our house anymore and you’re going to have to change schools, blah blah blah…”
No, obviously there needs to be a balance between what my ultimate idea for my life would be and the practical idea that works for my family. I imagine that’s the big question every working mom faces. Of course, there is no one answer or formula that fits everyone. It’s something we need to figure out for ourselves. Normally, I would love this journey of self discovery but it’s no fun not having an unlimited amount of time to figure it out. Eventually I am going to have to figure out where I’m going before it’s too late to go there.