For years while struggling with financial hardship, I questioned if I should have focused on money instead of following my passion in my career endeavors. Because they didn’t see my unpaid bills, my friends often told me they envied my certainty of what I was passionate about and my determination to pursue it at all costs, despite years of rejection and low pay and instability in my professional life. I’ve come to realize in recent years my flaw wasn’t embracing my passion as a career and lifestyle but my inability to add one key ingredient to the mix.
I first realized there was a missing piece about a year ago, when I created a gratitude phrase to recite in my mind every morning. It includes 12 things I am grateful for, and the last last section of my personal mantra is “with passion and purpose that gives meaning to living.” The repetition of that saying probably prompted me to read two books in recent months about incorporating purpose into the mission of a company and ultimately into our lives as a whole. The books tell me people are more likely to achieve financial success if they approach their professional endeavors with a true guiding purpose, and now I realize that’s been the missing piece to my puzzle.
Many people find a purpose early in life because they grow up facing extremely adverse situations and then devote themselves to trying to alleviate such social ills, like domestic violence or racism. I had a pretty typical suburban upbringing other than bullying due to my size, so I wasn’t sure about the direction of my life until I went to college and interned in the news department of a TV station and was completely smitten with that world.
I always loved to write, and I discovered a passion in taking that love to the next level by being a broadcast reporter. Though it took me an immense amount of hard work and difficulty to get my first real job in that field, I heard for years that I was lucky I had found my passion and a career where I could follow it every day. I was thrilled to wake up every morning and go to a job I loved. And even if all my bosses and assignments weren’t ideal, and the salaries were horribly low, I was filled with excitement for the process and living each day guided by the one word that represents my essence: Truth.
I got a lot of satisfaction from informing viewers of important government proposals, sharing insights gleaned through tragedies to prevent similar circumstances, and even pitching and reporting a story that resulted in the capture of a wanted criminal. But I had no overarching purpose other than to enlighten others through truthful and engaging storytelling. Then my 15-year freelance reporting gig at a CBS station came to an end, and I knew I would be extremely unlikely to find a similar position without moving to another city, which I didn’t want to do.
So I searched for a way to continue to pursue my passion, and I stumbled on the transcendent experience of combining it with a true purpose in life. At the time, I had experienced several years of feeling unable to keep up with all the demands I put on myself — to save my faltering real estate business, maintain my journalism career, keep my marriage intact, and be extremely involved in my children’s lives — causing me to constantly feel stressed out, overly self-critical, consumed by worry, short-tempered and reactionary to everybody. After I finally reached out to some girlfriends and realized many of them were experiencing similar struggles, I decided to focus my passion on creating video stories about working mothers who were willing to open up and share their failures and successes to help other moms.
The next phase of my career has been focused more on the purpose of increasing confidence and reducing stress in mothers everywhere than just on my passion of interviewing people, writing stories and producing videos about any subject. Even as I branch out into developing MomSub, my app idea to provide super affordable child care, my purpose remains the same: Give mothers inspiration and tools to help them avoid the traps that made me unhappy and unhealthy for years.
Of course some people might wonder why raising my children wouldn’t be enough of a purpose to give meaning to my life. I had always wanted to be a mother, and it was especially sweet (after a few years of fertility issues) to give birth twice and watch my son and daughter blossom. They give me immense joy and pride, and they do give my life meaning. And I definitely felt like my guiding purpose for two decades was to raise extraordinary humans who would be happy and contribute to the world. But now that they are 19 and 17 years old, that purpose no longer consumes much of my time and energy. I did the best I could and hopefully laid the foundation for them to thrive as they step into their own autonomy.
I’m ready for a new purpose to devote my time and energy and passion to, and I’ve found it in guiding other mothers to feel better about their parenting and careers by reaching out for help when they get overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m so excited about my purpose that I find myself working on my Working Mom Warrior videos and my MomSub app about 10 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. I skip entertainment and socializing to focus on my purpose.
It’s electrifying when something consumes you like this, like when you first fall in love. I recall a Disney ride I took that asked each person to choose one of two options: Do you live to work? Or work to live? I definitely live to work. Retirement is an odd concept to me. I would never want to stop working because I love what I do. And now, I’ve infused that passion with a purpose that what I do will hopefully help others. It’s such an invigorating feeling; I wish everyone could find their passion and purpose and experience it for themselves — especially women.
Far too many women find themselves lost when they face an empty nest, and they may respond by becoming overly involved in their adult children’s lives. We have to loosen the reins when our kids get old enough to take care of themselves, not just for them, but for us too. My mother spent years as a volunteer senior mentor, and she said her biggest concern was the lack of hobbies older women had compared to men. She said many senior women were lonely and bored and waiting for their children or grandchildren to call, while many men were still socializing with friends by playing golf or cards regularly. I hope this distinction between older women and older men becomes a byproduct of a past generation, and women’s achievements in education and the work world encourage them to nurture interests beyond their kids and their house that will serve them well in their senior years. It’s all part of women’s journey of being more fully present in our own lives from beginning to end, to enhance not only ourselves and our families but also the rest of the world.