Several years after college, I interned at the Albert B. Sabin archive in Cincinnati. At the time, I was a single mom working full-time as a flight attendant pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science (I know, crazy, right? I’ll come back to that). Albert B. Sabin was one of the men credited for eradicating polio with his oral polio vaccine, in this country and around the world. We are talking huge accomplishment. But as I combed through his life I saw all his time spent away from his family. There were several broken relationships in his personal life. It made me wonder. At the end of our life what will really matter? Does accomplishing a great goal or dream outweigh the cost to our personal life? Is it possible to pursue your passion while achieving your priorities?
Albert B. Sabin’s conflict in his personal life really resonated with me because I felt like I was facing some tough questions in my life. What was truly important to me and vital versus goals I was hoping to achieve. I wanted to complete my master’s degree and work in a large museum in the big city. The glaring reality in my life was that there was not enough time in the day. And it was showing in the actions of my young son who no longer wanted to come to me when I came home, knowing I would be leaving again soon.
This question came up again years later. Juggling a family, part-time job and homeschooling is rewarding but where was the “me” time to pursue my interests?
After years working with families there are some common themes and if you don’t mind I’m going to work out from those common themes. This post isn’t about working outside the home or inside the home. It’s about pursuing your passion while achieving your priorities. If you talk with a group of moms most moms want to be a great mom. They want to be there for their children. So most of us would say being a great mom is a main priority! But we also want to feel fulfilled as a person in some way by pursuing a passion or interest we have.
How we decide to juggle pursuing our passion while achieving our priorities is going to look different for everyone!
So instead of offering a blueprint I would like to suggest some questions we can ask ourselves as we push through the tough questions on priority versus passion.
That way, maybe, we can all move a little closer to creating a fulfilling life that is squarely in line with our individual priorities!
Pursing Your Passion While Achieving Your Priorities
So let’s tackle looking at how much time we need to devote to our priorities first by asking ourselves four questions!
What are Your Priorities and Values for Your Personal Life?
So we have to individually assess our priorities. What is one of the main goals for your family. When you reach the end of your life what will you want to look back and know you did well. And can you summarize it into a sentence or two?
I would most closely summarize my priority as, “I want to make my family a priority by loving and being supportive of my husband and by being available to my children to listen, teach and set boundaries. I want to raise my children to love God and their family, to be hardworking citizens who care for those around them and who continue to challenge themselves to grow and develop their talents.
WHEW!! That was hard to summarize such a big task into a sentence or two. OK, so how would you summarize? And see if you can get a little detailed. Sometimes we say we want our kids to “be happy” or “successful” but what does that look like to YOU?
If we are going to stand our ground for our priorities we better figure our what we are guarding.
Another question I think is helpful is, ” How would you like someone to describe your kids or your family?” And what can YOU do to encourage those characteristics?
What Are the Needs of Your Children?
As I mentioned earlier this is about creating a life that works for your family. Your kids are unique. Even within a family each child is so different from the next. What do your children need from you time and energy wise?
Do you have a child that needs particular help? Are you raising a strong-willed child? Are you mom to a blended family with a crazy schedule? Have you adopted a child that has emotional and mental heartaches ?
You may have only one child, but they require a lot from you emotionally or physically so take that into consideration.
What is Your Energy Life?
For years, I would drive myself crazy trying “to keep up” with others in my circle. I felt like if they had 20 activities and projects on their plate then I should be able to handle that many! So that didn’t exactly work out!
It still feels uncomfortable saying that I don’t have a high energy level because it feels like an excuse. However, we should be more concerned about creating a life that is in line with our family and individual needs than trying to please others. I have found that if I’m not realistic then it is my family that suffers when I’m too stressed or my body has to shut down because I took on too many projects.
Maybe you only need 6 hours of sleep every night? Or maybe you require 9 to function at your best. Are you an extrovert and love the hum of people around you? If you are an introvert and need some downtime, is that built into your schedule? Read more here about the difference between extroverts and introverts.
Do you enjoy the pace your life is going at? Or is your body sending you signals that it needs to slow down some? Do you have a physical condition that requires plenty of breaks in your to do list?
Create a life that challenges you to grow but doesn’t leave you constantly stressed and overwhelmed!
What are Your Spouses Priorities?
As we create a fulfilling life, we want to be realistic about our spouse’s priorities, if we are married. Some husbands enjoy staying close to home and helping out with the day-to-day while others are visionaries off conquering new lands.
It may be a challenge, but I found it extremely helpful to decide that I wanted a happy marriage more than I wanted to hold onto the idea that everything should be 50/50 in my marriage. Or that my marriage should look like my parents or my friends.
Is your husband excited about you pursuing your interests outside the family life and jumping in to cover you while you are gone? Or is your husband pursuing a big career goal and loves to have you working alongside him toward the same goal? Remember, each family is going to look differently so make compromises that work within your marriage to find the happy medium for your family.
Ways to Pursue Your Passion Now
OK, so we have assessed our priorities for our personal life and family. We have also taken a hard look at how much time we have to devote to our passions due to our children’s needs, our energy level and our marriages.
Some of you may have a lot of time and others may just have a few hours a week. That’s OK though because we can pursue our passions in a variety of ways.
Make Your Priority Your Passion
Perhaps your priority takes almost ALL your time. Well, then let’s get passionate about our priority. This may not be how you envisioned it, but we are strong women. We are meant to do more than just survive life, right? At The Reluctant Cowgirl, we are learning how to weave the twists and turns in our life into a beautiful and exciting story!
Do you have a child with special needs? Do you have a chronic illness? Is homeschooling and raising a large family take up every minute? Well, become an expert in your field! So many women have chosen to develop a solution or a way through a challenge their family was facing and those around them benefited later. I have a friend who had immersed herself in developing the best plan for her son who has some physical struggles. Due to her inexhaustible efforts those around her have gleaned from her expertise and her compassion.
This is hard for me. I like a plan and when suddenly it changes it can be challenging to alter my goals. Recently, my Country Boy and daughter came up with this great idea to raise puppies as an opportunity for my daughter to learn and earn. Well, I’m not a dog person and there were 9 puppies in my house!! I had to make a choice to either go with it and immerse myself in the experience or fight it. I finally made the choice that I was going to help raise the best puppies ever. Read more about my conversion from a cat person only to a dog person too here:)
Pursue Your Passion at Work
Do you have time to devote to a full-time or part-time job. Or perhaps it’s a necessity budget wise. Well then make sure you are working at a place that is rewarding to you. Yes, work is work, but it should bring fulfillment and some natural energy when you are in the right job for you! Read here about finding the right job for you!
If your work schedule is causing you to have to compromise on your priorities, is there a way to work yourself into a different job in the next year or two? Sometimes we will label a job “good” because it’s a steady paycheck with benefits, but if the job is killing our energy it’s NOT a good fit for us.
Pursue Your Passion by Developing a Business on the Side
Now, more than ever, there are so many opportunities to create a job from home that you will LOVE. They have even come up with a whole new word “Mompreneur” to describe it! Create a work schedule that fits your family doing something you are passionate about.
Many moms enjoy working in sales, crafting and DIY, as a blogger, a virtual assistant or a personal coach. Find something that you feel motivated to do and not just for the income lest you burnout.
As a work from home mom you can also find lots of support via Facebook groups. So whatever you are pursuing you can have the friendship of co-labors!
Pursue Your Passion by Volunteering
OK, I know you are already helping out! You are making goodies for the school bake sale or teaching Sunday School at church. You may be helping with the community theatre program or teaching a class at your homeschool co-op. Find an area that you are passionate about and give it your all. You will learn a ton and be giving others the benefit of your awesome skills.
Several years ago, I created a College and Career Fair for my homeschool group. I was nervous inviting all those speakers and colleges to come and speak. But, I had a vision. I wanted to connect the teens with fields they may be interested in pursuing! How awesome would it be for the teens to hear from people working in the actual career field! For 3 years it has been successful and even the adults that come to talk about their career say how much fun they had sharing.
Find a need that you know you can excel at and create a solution. Everything you learn may turn into a bigger opportunity later as your priorities at home lessen!
So how have you wrestled with this issue of priority versus passion? Are you just at the beginning stages and wrestling with this issue? Do you have some expertise in this that we would all benefit from hearing about? Share below in the comments. We would all appreciate hearing from your experience!!
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Wow, this post really hits home! I’ve been trying to figure out how to find and pursue my passion. As my daughter grows, her needs change and I’m realizing that I need to change too.
Thanks Kim! Yes, it does seem to be an ongoing process to reevaluate the season of life we are in and the needs of our family. Hope you are able to gain some clarity as you find that balance.
Heather Bee says
Miranda, I learn something new about you every time I read one of your posts! I really wish we had know each other when we were both single moms, but am so grateful for God bringing us together when He chose to. Thanks for always challenging me to look at life from a different perspective! I think I need to work on my few sentences this weekend to make sure I’m staying faithful to who God wants me to be. Keep on writing! I’m so proud of you…
I wish we had too! Being a single mom was so hard and making that journey without a friend that knew what you were going through made it even harder. Awww…thanks for the encouragement! So thankful for your friendship and support:)
Love this post… it’s easy to get lost in priorities but I feel like we can lose ourselves in the process. My child requires a lot from me and I want to be there for him, but I also hope that by me following my passions whenever/however I can, it sets the example for him to do the same. Enjoyed learning more about you and I am right there with you on the activity overload- can’t do it!
Thanks Misty! Yes, I think it is encouraging to our children to see us continue to grow and explore our interests. Glad I’m not the only one who has to limit my activities:)
There are SOOO many things to juggle and I have so many goals outside of my family but as you suggested, being a good Mom and raising responsible and grateful children with a good work ethic is my biggest priority. I’ve had to make hard decisions and let go of some of my previous goals but I am here now pursuing anew path to a new set of goals that allows me to be more present for my children that it incredibly fulfilling. It looks different for everyone. What a fabulous list!
It is a juggling act and like you mention sometimes we have to make some hard decisions as moms. That is wonderful that you have been able to pursue new goals and are finding them very fulfilling!