I was never one of those kids who knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even in college when it was time to pick a major, I picked business because it seemed like I could do a lot with it. I really didn't like business more or less than anything else. But my parents encouraged me to finish college and then I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I spent my first few years out of college in corporate America. I worked for a great company, my job was challenging and I made great money. Not bad for a young woman who had just turned 22. But I knew almost immediately that it wasn't for me. I wasn't okay with working all day to help a company that already had a lot of money make more.
I remember the day when I decided I needed to make a change. I was at the mall and I saw an elderly couple sitting on a bench. My first thought was "I'm so jealous that they don't have to work anymore." It was then that I knew my current situation wasn't working and it was time to figure out what my true passion in life really was. I ended up deciding to go back to graduate school and get a degree in Health Education. It was a very scary decision, but something I've never regretted.
When I told my co-workers that I was leaving, the responses were interesting. Some people told me I was foolish- I'd never have a job like this again, making this kind of money. Others said they admired my decision, and if they didn't have a family to support and house payments to make, they might have tried to do the same thing.
After graduate school, I moved to Memphis with my husband and got a job with the YMCA. It was a great experience for a number of reasons, and lasted a few years until my husband was transferred and we moved home. An interesting turn of events lead me to SparkPeople, which was a tiny office with just a handful of employees at the time. Again, some people told me I was crazy for taking a job with a small company that might not last. But others said it was such a unique experience and I should take advantage of the opportunity. Every day I'm thankful I did.
After my first child was born I started working part-time. It's not easy- my day starts at 5:30 every morning so that I can get work done before my kids get up. Then I juggle my kids and work throughout the day so that I can be a good mom and good employee at the same time. I realize a lot of working moms have to juggle much more than I do, so I consider myself lucky.
If I wanted to stop working, my family could find a way to make it work. But I get so much satisfaction from helping people every day on the site. Any time someone tells me that my advice or suggestions helped them make progress, I'm thrilled. So I honestly believe that I've found the career that I'm passionate about, even if I took an interesting path to get there.
What about you? Have you found your passion- whether it's your career, family, volunteering or other activities? If not, what's stopping you?