Dramatic much? In all honesty I might not the very best person to help you answer this, because I myself am still trying to get to the end of my own answer. But I am working on it and somehow worked my way past the inital “WTF am I going to do with my life!?” stage with a healthy mix of panic and internal chaos — so wait, maybe I am?
This same question (but in a much less dramatic tone) was the single most asked question that was shot my way, the year leading up to having both Harlow and King in full-time school. So as much as I maybe wasn’t asking myself the life heavy question, others around me were — and that might be your case too?
This was a topic I’ve been asked to tackle a bunch of times, but serious things are seriously hard to do guys! I really wanted to tackle this concept and do a fun series, maybe interviewing parents who found themselves again or anew after the kids went off to school. Maybe I will still get to it — hey, maybe you want to (or know someone who should) be interviewed? Either way I thought, since this is my blog maybe I’d just go ahead (and finally) start with me and answer my very own questions — maybe offer some ease into your own internal transitional chaos along the way. And a walking photo? I didn’t have a deep thinking photo so walking seemed second in line, or something.
I talked a little bit about where I am right now and the very quick run down of the process that sorta got me here — and even that is still ever changing. I still don’t have everything together (but really, does anyone, ever!?) and I’m still working on my end goal, basically I’m still a work in progress but aren’t we all? I sat down and thought back about my own process (the panic, frustration) and the questions I hounded myself with (and others shot at me). So this post, is more or less the (very cleaned up) question process that brought me to “when the kids went off to school” — which is where I’m at now.
This post is for you if you have kids going off to school or if just feel you really need a change and generally if you are asking yourself WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE? (or maybe you’re shouting it, just like that?)…..
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR FULFILLMENT OR JUST CASH?
This is a good first question to ask yourself. Are just looking to fill in some $$ blanks, bring in a bit of cash and maybe interact with other adults a bit? Well then your possibilities are more endless, you could pick up a part-time job or maybe part-time hours within a past industry you used to work in? Or maybe consulting for an industry you have a bunch of experience in? But if you are looking for both cash and fulfillment (ore mostly fulfillment) and jumping back into your old job isn’t the way to go (for whatever reason, there could be a laundry list of them) then you should keep reading/answering these questions. Phew, that was easy, right?
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE (HAVING KIDS or JUST BEFORE)? WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT IT?
But maybe don’t ask yourself out loud, unless you want to sound crazy. It is a good idea to look at what you did, maybe what you were trained to do and have experience doing and then pick out parts that you really liked the most (maybe even get crazy and make a list). This is easiest to do when you have stepped away from it for a while, hindsight is always 20/20 — so use that hindsight and gander back at the good parts. Maybe there is something in those good parts that you can solely focus on? A much more specified version of something you have touched on in the past. Maybe?
For me I went to school for and worked in the apparel industry, working on design and product development for big brands. There was a lot I that I really loved about my job and a lot I could very much do without, and looking back after being home with the kids for 4 years I was really able to pick the good pieces out. Plus writing a growing lifestyle blog meant I had acquired all these new skills that I enjoyed and could add to my “what I enjoyed” list. So for me I was left with this messy list, of things I was great at and loved — basically I had the perfect recipe for a job that didn’t exist.
IS THERE A DREAM/SOMETHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO?
Or maybe just something that has grown in the past couple years, it doesn’t have to be a big giant life long dream — only crazy people (like me) have those? Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to study? A creative dream? Maybe just a small goal within your industry? Well now, might be the best time in the whole concept of a lifetime to, do it. Whatever it is, look at it both logically and with your dreamy goggles on — is it possible? Maybe if you scale it back and start slow or smaller, is it possible then? And if this isn’t you, or you still just have no idea “what you are going to do” maybe just keep reading on.
I have had a goal I’ve been reaching to attain, for like basically ever. The good thing (looking back) about not reaching it. yet is that I have changed so much, so as a result so has my plan/dream/goal. This is the part of my answer that I am still reaching to get at, but I am working on it. I’m not ready to yell about it out loud on the internet, because I’m not quite ready to be held that accountable to it yet. But it’s there and something that I’m working at slowly but surely, but I am working on it — like the tortoise in the race.
JUST BECAUSE IT DOESN’T EXIST, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T MAKE IT EXIST.
In this day and age, with the internet and the slow changing of so many industries, you don’t need to do something that already has an existing title. It’s confusing and messy if you create something that doesn’t exist, but if you follow what you love, what you are good at, maybe what you have training in and mix that with dreams — you can most definitely (most of the time) make it exist, within reason of course.
Look at the whole picture: Can you marry your previous skills (parts you loved about your old job/career) with your dream (something you’ve always sorta wanted to do) and skills you maybe acquired from being home with the kids (you can acquire a ton of skills from SAHM-ing) — what would that look like? Maybe it’s not that messy after all, maybe it already does exist.
My job (jobs) technically don’t really “exist” and probably didn’t exist before I side barred work to stay home with the kids. I sorta fell into it and then I made them exist. By following my hobbies which sorta naturally happened to mix with my previous work skills and experience. And then my new-found blogging, social media, graphic design and all the skills I acquired from becoming a mother/household manager and my years of experience designing and developing clothing came together in a confusing 4 job career ‘mawwiage’. But hey it works and it works really really well for me! :) (you can really tell by my use of that emoji)
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DECOMPRESS.
Yes they are going to go to school soon (or yes you need to figure out your life, soon), but you don’t have to have a plan lined up for the same date they start school. It’s hard to think, let alone stay on one thought process without being interrupted when you are home with the kids. So maybe you need to give yourself some grace and let a couple of months of the kids in school unfold and let your brain just decompress. I bet (if you are like me) the answers to all the above questions will come much easier when your brain has room to think. So don’t rush. Also often going through the motions (of hobbies, meeting old friends, getting back into the adult world) could land an opportunity or maybe a possibility in your lap. Things have a funny way of working out when you need them too, but I’m also not that you should hold out hope for this — but there is always the possibility, while you are trying to work through the question on your own. Really this should be laid out: Step 1, decompress – Step 2, answer the above questions.
I had a friend suggest that I decompress before totally freaking, probably after she heard me ramble my stresses about “WTF am I gonna do!?” one too many times. But she was right. I honestly couldn’t give enough thought to the whole process, because I was too stressed about the thought and because I just didn’t have enough brain power to dedicate to the process. The process of decompressing allowed me to have time to think and time to work on my blog and other small projects (hobbies) which ended up basically laying out, what I do now. Even though I am still working on getting to what I think is my end goal, but knowing me my big dream is probably just a beginning to another bigger goal — it’s sorta how these life dream things go.
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES.
Often we don’t see the best parts of ourselves, usually we just beat ourselves up about the parts we don’t love. Most of my best advice and encouragement (that I wasn’t expecting at all) has come from friends and family. So maybe after asking your self all these questions, call some friends and go out for coffee. Bring up your internal chaos and see what they have to say, maybe what they see you doing or even what they think you are great at. I bet the answers will be shockingly awesome.
Now, after going through those steps — I hope you wrote down your answers, did I forget to tell you to write those down? Kidding written down or not, maybe you have a good (or a “gooder?”) place to start? I’d really really love to hear from you guys. Are you going through a transition (kids going off to school, needing to make a career change?) or have you already gone through one? What was your process like? What would help you get to your answer?
A QUICK NOTE: If you plan to continue or start staying home, manage the home and be an all around super mom when the kids go off to school — that’s awesome, amazing and a huge job! I’m not saying you need to do anything else, but if you are saying (in your own head) that you want to do something else, then maybe this post is for you.