Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? — Job 38:36 (NLT)
For years, I have wanted to be a writer of children’s books. When I was in my 20’s, I flew to New York City and interviewed with a major publishing house. I didn’t get the job. A few years later, I followed the man of my dreams out to Boston to pursue a job in children’s book publishing. I had dreams of working at Little Brown or Houghton Mifflin. I went so far as to call Little Brown and offer to work for free. The girl I spoke with thought I was a crazy person. I wasn’t crazy; I just really wanted to learn about publishing.
I wound up working for an accounting firm as a secretary, and then I got fired. I hated my job. The day my boss and the human resource person told me I was being let go, I looked across the desk at them and said, “Thank you SO MUCH!” They glanced at each other with a raised eyebrow. I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent, or even if I would be able to stay living in Boston, but I did know one thing; I was free. I had been released from a dungeon of drudgery.
I spent the summer looking for a job and collecting unemployment. My future husband surprised me by taking me on fun outings to get my mind off being unemployed… hiking in New Hampshire, visits to Martha’s Vineyard, dinner and excursions throughout Boston, etc. The man of my dreams somehow faded out of the picture. He basically said, “Tough break.”
I’d like to say I persevered and found a job in publishing, but I didn’t. I wound up in another dull, lifeless secretarial job. By this time, I had convinced myself I wasn’t supposed to get into publishing. Throughout the summer, I had continued to look for jobs in publishing. I had one wonderful man (a vice president at one of Boston’s major publishing houses who rode the same bus I did, and whom I wound up interviewing with) tell me, “In this business, unless you’ve gone to an Ivy League school or come from money, your chances of breaking in are pretty slim.” That’s when I sort of wilted and gave up. Publishing wasn’t God’s plan for me. He had closed every single door I had tried to go through. Obviously, I was supposed to be knocking on different doors.
I figured since I wasn’t making it in the career world, perhaps I was meant to be a wife and mother. I changed my focus. I got married, gave up grad school, had three children, and completely lost my identity. (Before you start thinking, “Oh boy, here she goes… on the pity-me bandwagon!”, I want to assure you that’s not where I’m headed. I HAVE been there, done that, but have decided it’s time to get off and start doing what God intended for me to do in the first place… hang on to Him and persevere.)
Throughout my journey, one thing has remained constant (well, two actually, when you count God being the only One who has continued to love me through it all), and that is my love for publishing and writing. My writing needs a lot of work; it’s rough and tends to segue off onto multiple tangents at times, but it hopefully touches my readers every now and again in a a profound way. I’m praying it will smooth out in time.
My point to all of this is… if your heart consistently tells you something, and the message rarely changes, LISTEN. God designed each of us with a specialty. We’ve each been given a gift. Your gift will call to you. It oftentimes will be something that comes naturally. It can also, at times, require a great deal of studied focus and attention. It ALWAYS will be something that touches your heart and spreads a warmth throughout your soul. It will be something that brings you joy, and usually it will be something that blesses others. So…
Lesson #2: Follow Your Heart
Don’t allow other people to determine what you should do in life. Don’t be forced into a career that will make you miserable. So much of our life is spent working, that we really need to be careful that we don’t get locked into doing something we dislike intensely. If we’re unhappy when we get up in the morning, and we can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed to go to a job we can’t stand, it doesn’t set a good precedent. There ARE fantastic jobs out there. It might be something as simple as taking meals to the elderly people on your block or it might be jet-setting around the world cinching major business deals. If it makes you happy, it’s the right job for you. The thing is, no one can tell you what it is except YOU.
If you are a young person reading this and you don’t know what it is, volunteer your services in a variety of areas. Talk to your friends and ask them what they like/dislike about their job. Take some time to reflect on whether you enjoy being around people or being alone, working with things or working with ideas, traveling or staying put, working set day shifts or a flexible variety of shifts, being your own boss or having someone else give you direction. When you’re in high school and college, take a variety of classes. Get involved in extracurricular activities. You don’t always need to know what you want to major in at the start of your college career. Part of the early college experience is exploring your options (of course, high school is an even better time to do this), but my point is to try out a variety of things to find out what you like and what you don’t. You aren’t going to be good at everything. That’s okay. Focus on what you ARE good at. The rest will fall into place.
If you aren’t so young anymore, but you realize you’ve spent your entire life doing what makes everyone else happy, and you wake up one day and realize you’ve lost your spark, it’s time to reassess things. It’s never too late to learn something new. Take some time to think about what you’d rather be doing. Find some time to go away where it’s quiet. Take a pen and some paper (or your iPad!) and write down steps on how to make that happen. It’s a proven fact that the first step in getting from Point A to Point B is to have a plan, so make some goals and write them down. Start imagining yourself in your new role. Our thought life is a huge contributor to where we end up in life. Make a timeline. You may need to make a budget. Post these things where you can see them on a daily (or weekly) basis. Cut out pictures of where you see yourself or what you see yourself doing. Visual reminders are HUGE in helping us move out of a rut. Reward yourself along the way to reaching your goal. Remember, a journey begins with a single step. If you don’t take that initial first step, you are never going to get to where you want to go. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.
Go on now… get going! I’m rooting for you!
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. –Steve Jobs