Around this time last year I was looking at job listings. The holidays were approaching and I really wanted to contribute to our income.
I also really wanted to get out of the house, to be honest. My time at home with the kids was starting to wear on me. I looked at everything: full-time, part-time, seasonal, anything during off-hours to avoid childcare costs.
I do well with self-governed busy work because I find comfort in repetition. It makes way for great thinking time, and quite honestly, peace and quiet.
I was rattling off several options to my husband one night at the dinner table. He is supportive of anything I want to do, but he knew I was selling myself short. That I wouldn't be happy with a job "just to get me out of the house" for very long.
He looked at me pointedly and respectfully said: "Aim higher."
At first I was a little put off by it. Didn't he see that I was wanting to bring in a paycheck?
There is nothing in the world wrong with working an hourly hard-labor job. He and I both have long work histories doing just that. He put children's bicycles together on an overnight shift one year for extra income, and I'm not above or afraid of a little elbow grease either.
I knew he wasn't looking down on me. He is like a lot of go-getters that think of work in terms of maximizing skill sets to score something bigger and better for the soul. He found his passion in television, and knew I would do better long-term in a creative kind of job.
It never even occurred to me to aim higher. Why not take a passion and figure out how to make money that way? There has never been a better time in the world to do just that. But someone like me? Just starting out at 40? Isn't that too hard?
I was originally just thinking short-term work with an end date for the holidays, and I wasn't thinking of me. The deep down me.
My passion is writing. I had no idea how to get paid as a writer and I knew it would take some time to figure out how to get rolling with that.
But he planted the seed. Aim higher. What if? Yes it would be harder to brainstorm and come up with a plan and put myself out there as opposed to just punching a clock at a job I would end up hating. There was even a big possibility that I would fail. But what if?
I did go ahead and work a seasonal job doing busy work for the holidays while I figured it out (with his support.) And I used that quiet thinking time to think bigger. How would I try to make a living writing? Could I do it? Is it possible? What if I could write for that publication? Or that one?
I was giddy with the thought that I could get paid doing what I really wanted to do. And I gathered more information and studied up and started writing like crazy in the morning before the kids got up, and late at night after they were in bed. And I took a deep breath and began submitting pieces to publications online.
And slowly the cogs in the wheel started turning. I felt like I was inching a huge boulder up a hill bit by bit, but I was really excited to know that I could one day stand up there at the top and watch it roll down.
And I did just that. A whole lot of blood, sweat and tears started to pay off as I was published on several paid sites back to back. It was the best feeling in the whole wide world.
What could have been a mid-life-crisis in the making turned into a mid-life awakening.
I'm doing what I love and I find myself humming on days when I write and hit "publish." And my whole family benefits from my newfound zest for life. My kids see me happy and excited for something.
And it's all because he believed in me enough to plant that seed. He saw unused passion in me. And things could have turned out very differently if I had been offended at his advice. I needed to hear it, I knew I was settling back then.
"She thought she could, so she did" as the saying goes.
Encouraging a spouse in their potential is everything. Sometimes it's a dream buried below the surface and it can be a sensitive subject, so proceed with caution. But please, by all means, proceed.
And my advice to you no matter where you're at in life right now: Aim higher. And get those cogs turning.