How To Follow Your Passions Without Losing Sight Of Your Priorities
I have pondered on this blog post for several months now. Why? Because honestly I knew it was going to be a hard one for me to write. Being vulnerable is never easy. Its like stripping down in front of a group of people. Your lay your emotions out there, bare and raw for everyone to see but vulnerability is not only where we start to find our own healing but its how we help and serve others. To quote Brené Brown, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."
For over 13 years now I have been pursuing my passions and creativity through the world of entrepreneurship. A journey that has had its share of incredible highs and soul crushing lows. Much of what I have learned can not be written about in books or taught in courses. Most of what I have learned over the years has come from being in the trenches. Rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. Making mistakes. Falling flat on my face in the dirt. Going through painful moments of being hurt for someone else's gain and moments when I realized that I too had hurt others with my actions and decisions.
Following my passions has not been all glitz and glamour although at one time I whole-heartedly bought into the "laptop lifestyle". So much so that I lost myself in pursuing it. The freedom to "work hard and play harder". I became so caught up in achieving ranks and leadership statuses in my network marketing companies that I put my family into debt. I became so obsessed with helping others, buying into the "everyone can do it" motto that my family and faith were put on the back burner for mastermind calls and team trainings. Always striving for validation and acceptance, that I was "good enough". Proving that I was "leadership" material became more important than having dinner ready and my kids in bed at a decent hour.
Online I was portraying someone who had it all together. My life was "incredible" and my business was "the biggest most amazing blessing of my life!". While my business had blessed me in many ways like allowing me to leave corporate America, behind the scenes most days everything was falling apart. Laundry was piling up, my kids were watching too much T.V. and my marriage was in trouble. I had fully 1000% bought into the "make short term sacrifices now for the long term reward" advice. I had made so many sacrifices to pursue success that when I looked into the mirror I did not even know who I was anymore and I was terrified to let anyone see just what a hot mess I was.
In 2014 I was on the brink of a divorce and my business was rapidly declining. I woke up one day and had to face the hard reality that I was at rock bottom. I had created the huge mess that I was standing knee deep in. I knew that I was the only one who could get myself out of it and I knew where I needed to start, by getting my priorities back in a straight line.
Faith. I had to put God at the center of my life again. I knew that only through His strength could I pull myself out of the disaster I was in.
Family. I needed to put my family before anyone else. My two boys are going to be grown and what am I going to look back on and remember? What are they going to remember? That their mom can't read them a bedtime story because of phone calls and webinars?
Fun. I was sacrificing everything that mattered most to me while using the infamous "Know Your WHY" to justify my hard work and sacrifices. I began to realize that my whole life was revolving around my business. That I had other areas of my life that made me happy that I was setting aside to put all of my focus and energy around what others deemed as "successful".
Finances. I needed to stop focusing on how much money was in my bank account and instead focus on the lives that I could impact. Allowing God to use me and my talents to make a difference in the world. That abundance and blessings would flow as a by-product of having my heart and mind centered in the right place.
Once I got my head screwed back on straight and my priorities in order I had to start making some very hard decisions like walking away from an industry that I had worked hard to be a part of for over 11 years, walking away from toxic relationships and putting my people-pleaser on a leash so I could start saying "NO" to things that were not aligned with my beliefs. I committed to making daily changes to break the cycle of my bad habits:
• I started putting God and my devotional time at the beginning of my day.
• I set boundaries with my computer and phone to be present for my kids.
• Multi-tasking got a huge "Not Welcomed" sign.
• I started living life with more intention.
• In 2015 I was baptized at the age of 42 recommitting my life to Christ.
• I prayed for forgiveness and grace to put my life and marriage on the road to healing.
• I began to understand that authenticity was more important than portraying a "perfect" life and business.
• I took back control of my time and created a life and work schedule.
And you know what happened? God showed up.
He started to do some amazing things in my life. I started healing, breaking myself open to find my inner truth again. I began to find my self worth in the person God created me to be, not in other people's approval, opinions or month end volume numbers. I started to let go of my years of struggle with people pleasing and perfectionism. I started loving myself again. God started opening doors of opportunities for me like launching my own coaching business and guest blogging for some amazing communities founded on the mission of supporting women.
Am I perfect no. I am a true creative who truly loves her work, loves to lose herself in writing and creating. Who loves to connect and work with other creative women who are fired up about pursuing their own passions so I could literally work 24/7 but I have experienced first hand how destructive that can be so I work very hard to never lose site again of my priorities, to be more focused on living a life of significance and not allowing myself to become caught up in how the world defines "success". To fully embrace the value in quality v. quantity.
Following your passions is an important part of living a happy and fulfilled life. Pursuing what sets your soul on fire can help you grow and discover yourself in ways like nothing else can but its important to never lose sight of who you are in the process. Success is subjective. For some success is how much money they have in their bank account and what kind of luxury car they drive and for others success is defined by how big of a positive impact they are making in the world and in the lives of those around them.
To follow your passions without losing sight of your priorities, its crucial to always follow YOUR path. To follow your intuition and inner truth. To play by your rules. No one else is walking in your shoes, paying your bills or having to live with the consequences of your choices. Never allow others to push or manipulate you. This is your journey of growth and self discovery. At the end of the day when you are reflecting upon your decisions you have to feel good about where you are and the person you are becoming in the process. What matters is YOUR definition of success and how you want to get there. You don't have to sacrifice peace for progress in order to get ahead and reach your goals. Its YOUR legacy that you are leaving behind.
As Anne Sweeney so gracefully put it "Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules and build a life you are proud to live."
What has following your passions taught you? Have you had to learn some hard lessons a long the way? Would love for you to share but more importantly know that you are not alone xo
April Williams is a Creative Momista and Soulpreneur of 2 boys + whimsical wavemaker + creative expressive + Texas country girl + branding junkie who loves green mint tea + horses + fuzzy socks + surrounding herself with high achieving amazing women + peppermint anything + the color red + cozy coffee shops. She is a branding strategist for creative women entrepreneurs and founder of Creative Brandista™ .