Before coming out with it all I want to preface this post with this: I believe it is extremely important to align your occupation with something you are very passionate about.
Every career path has ups and downs, and if you believe in what you doing, you will find it easier when the going gets tough. A quarter of all salaried workers say they put in at least 60 hours per week (Gallup Work and Education Poll). Most of us spend at least 1/2 of our waking hours working, so doing what we love is super important!
OK, [deep breath] here we go:
My List of Secrets:
1. My first dirty little secret is that I am a mostly self-taught graphic designer.
When I was in college, I was passionate about our natural environment. Sooo, my degree is in environmental science, which I promptly used to better the world by working for a humane society, a river restoration group, and an organization that worked to promote efficient and renewable energy. I was aligning with my passion in these jobs, but I also noticed that I loved wearing the marketing and graphic design hat at each of them, too.
While working for non-profits, I took a few college classes to learn more about graphic design because it piqued my interest and I wanted to do a better job of it in the positions that I held.
Learning and growing don’t stop when you are finished with school. Curiosity and intrigue are integral parts of passion (and creativity!). Investing your time and a bit of money in learning opportunities is paramount to your sanity. You and your future are worth it. And who knows, maybe it will lead to your next career down the road!
2. My second secret is that when I did realize I was done with non-profits I didn’t stop right away. Because I was scared.
I was scared of taking a risk. What if I was putting my family in financial jeopardy? What if I let the non-profit I worked for at the time down by quitting? And the biggest fear: What if my lack of degree meant I wasn’t good enough? You can imagine all the crazy scenarios I dreamt up to prevent myself from moving forward, but luckily, one spring morning I was walking from my car to the office, the flowers were blooming, the air smelled fresh and I realized I did not want to go to work. I was dreading it, and not only was I dreading it that day, but I realized I had been dreading it for weeks. I needed to change.
While trying to decide what I needed, I envisioned looking back on my life and feeling I’d wasted many of my waking hours doing something that I no longer felt good about. I didn’t want to ever live with that sort of regret. If you are contributing to the world in a way that is meaningful, it is time well spent. Aligning your vocation with your passion helps you become resilient during low times and your victories become sweeter.
3. My third secret is about my marriage. (Sorry honey!)
The day I realized I needed to change careers I went home after work and told my husband. And he freaked out. Mostly on the inside, which was nice for me.
Luckily, he quickly grew to trust and support my decision, which meant the world to me… because I still get scared. I learned how important it is to support others when they are ready to take a big scary leap. And now when my husband or other loved ones tell me they need to make a big change that may affect me, I do my best to not freak out. I listen and ask them how I can help.
I still have doubt and struggle. But the passion I feel about being a designer and the support of my family and friends is carrying me through.