When you were in 8th grade, did you already know what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Did you end up doing it?
I had no clue.
I spoke to the 8th graders at a local middle school for career day last week. It occurred to me, that since it took me 36 years to figure out how to do work that mattered to me, instead of doing work just to make money, my little talk might be good for people of all ages to hear.
So here’s an excerpt of the main points. (Even if you skip to the end, I hope you’ll do the excercise.)
I always knew I wanted to have a career helping people. So when I was nearing HS graduation, I talked with the guidance counselor about majors and decided that I’d be a psychology major, specifically child and adolescent psychology.
I thought becoming a children’s counselor was clearly the right path for me.
In my Senior year of college as a psychology major, I did an internship at the child and adolescent psych ward at the hospital. It was like a scene from a terrible movie, where they put kids in padded rooms. Had group therapy, that was like pulling teeth and everyone was constantly on suicide watch. It was like their parents were just dropping them off there because they really didn’t care.
When for the most part, it seemed like all they really needed and wanted was for someone to give a rip. Instead, they were heavily medicated and locked up.
I hated it.
I couldn’t believe I’d spent almost 4 years of college getting a degree that I had now decided I didn’t want.
This was not at all what I thought helping people would look like.
Clearly the system was really broken and I wanted nothing to do with it. (that’s a whole other story. . .that I got such a limited perspective on the WHOLE field of psychology and called it quits)
So after graduation, I did what any sensible college graduate would do. I became a flight attendant.
It was a job. It was fun. And it (kind of) paid the bills. Fast forward several years… I realized that even though flying was fun, it wasn’t challenging enough for me to continue doing it.
So I quit flying and got a job in sales.
I enjoyed the challenge of working hard to reach goals. I had fun always meeting new people.
I worked my way up from selling ads in a magazine, to selling pharmaceuticals to doctors, to teaching doctors how to use very specific medical devices during surgery type procedures.
The money got better and better. I was being challenged more and more.
But something was still missing.
I needed more meaning.
I felt like I was living my life just to make another dollar, to sell the next thing…and to sell more and make more money.
I wanted my life to matter. I wanted my work to matter. So, at 36 years old, I hired a coach to help me uncover my passions and find a way to focus on them.
Over the next year, I ended up quitting my high paying job to create change that mattered to me and would matter to others.
I started HeartStories, focused on creating community for women who want more meaning and purpose in their lives. We help women change the world by living the stories of their hearts instead of the old negative stories in their heads.
We created a short 1 min film to depict this idea….
We connect women to each other and their heartstories through inspiring blog and social content, live events, virtual events online, and a web app that connects women intimately with only their 10, or fewer, closest friends.
Our current focus is an online shop, Shop by HeartStories focused on telling the stories of female social entrepreneurs who are changing the world by living their heartstories.
We highlight their stories and sell their products that are made in sustainable ways, pay fair living wages and give back to causes that are near to their hearts.
These women have come up with creative ways to make the world a better place by employing women out of addiction, homelessness, human trafficking, and even refugee women here in Dallas.
They’re changing the world by living the stories of their hearts.
And you can too!
As a start-up entrepreneur, I run all aspects of the business. So mostly, I sit at a desk a lot – probably 80% of my time is sitting in a chair, writing, responding to emails, and doing administrative type of work. That’s certainly not my favorite part of the job, but it’s the reality for an entrepreneur in the early stages of a start-up.
My favorite part of my work is connecting with people and I get to spend about 20% of my time doing that. I love to meet in person, talk on the phone, hang out on google or Skype with people.
It energizes me to connect with other entrepreneurs to encourage them.
It’s also insanely rewarding when women tell me stories about how HeartStories has changed the trajectory of their lives because they started doing something they love.
It’s a lot work and a lot of late hours and it’s totally worth it. I left a successful career in medical device sales making incredible money to do this and I don’t regret it one bit.
As an entrepreneur and a mother, I‘m able to prioritize my business around my family and that is totally worth it!
I feel like I’m doing exactly what I am meant to do with my life, serving who I’m meant to serve. And you can do that too.
I’m here to encourage you to do work that matters.
You don’t have to settle for being a cog in the system.
You can start today.
Start publishing a blog on a topic you care about. Yes, you!
You have a story and a purpose in this world. Don’t quit until you find it.
If you remember nothing I said, remember the red headphones. Remember that they represent listening to the story of your heart instead of the negative stories in your head.
Grab a note pad or open a note in your phone really quickly. I want you to jot down the first things that come to your mind for the following:
- 3 things you love – could be anything- fashion, sports, food, reading, learning, teaching, painting, having fun, helping others . . .
- 3 things that break your heart – could be neglected children, war, abused women, mistreated animals, depression, human trafficking . . .
- 3 things that make you steaming mad – could be some of the above or other things like disrespect, traffic jams, cheating in sports . . . .
Now look at your list. You have about 9 things that really matter to you written down. Go investigate companies or organizations doing work that matters in these fields. They could be for-profit corporations or non-profit organizations. Find organizations that are doing work you love.
Contact them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Tell them you want to volunteer your time with them. You want to help spread their message. Ask them what you can do to help. Don’t wait for them to pay you. Do it now, in your free time. Find someone who is doing work you’re passionate about and go help them get it done.
If you have access to the internet and some friends on social media, you can help them spread the word.
You will help them and it will help you in return. You’ll learn more about what you like and what you don’t.
And maybe by the time you graduate High School, you’ll have some great experience that will guide you as your choose a major to spend 4 years on.
Please remember, the things that make you unique are your gifts to the world. Right now, you might even think they’re your flaws, but they’re not.
They’re your HeartStories.
As you think about your career going forward… remember these red headphones. You have stories in your heart that only you can live.
We need you to live them.
Only you can.
We’re waiting for you to live your HeartStories.
It’s not too late.
To more love,