A lot has happened in the past five days – the biggest and craziest thing being that my husband accepted a job in Maine and we will be moving there mid-March… when I am 36 weeks pregnant.
We are SO SO SO excited about this move for a million different reasons… Chris’ new job is a dream job for him and a great promotion. I could not be more proud. Maine is home for me – it has always been the place I have tried to get back to and where I hoped I would ultimately end up settling down and raising my own family. We have family and friends in the area, the cost of living is better, we are a 10 minute drive from the ocean, and people rarely honk their horns while driving. It’s pretty dreamy.
But in all the excitement and chaos, I found a teeny tiny voice inside my head start speaking up… what about my job? What will I do when I get there? Will I want to stay home for awhile or go back to work within a few months of having the baby? Do I find a job exactly like the one I am leaving behind that I love with all my heart? Or do I try something new? And will I ever do anything but move laterally from position to position or will I get the pride of a promotion someday like my husband? I don’t know WHY I started hearing those thoughts in the back of my mind. Maybe because it was hard for me to give my notice to a place that has taught me so much and been like family for the past 2 years… maybe it’s because deep down I’m still trying to figure out what I want and not just what I THINK I should do or want.
Interestingly enough, I had a dream last weekend where my father-in-law was sitting with me, giving me advice and insight (I realize I was just hearing my own subconscious thoughts with him serving as the medium, but still). And because I actually woke up feeling like I understood everything more clearly, I figured I would share those thoughts with all of you, especially those struggling to find some clarity in the midst of a big transition in life.
In my dream, when I told my father-in-law I was not sure if I would ever be considered “successful,” he asked me a few questions:
- Did you maximize your role where you were and take advantage of all opportunities for growth?
- Have you touched lives or made an impact in some way?
- Do you have a true understanding of your gifts and have you shared them with others?
(It may seem crazy that I remember these questions so clearly, but I woke up immediately after the dream and wrote everything down so I wouldn’t forget).
After he asked these questions, I paused to ponder. I considered my roles at every job I’ve held thus far and realized I HAD done my best to take on new challenges, opportunities for growth and had worked hard to maximize my role in the time I was there. Ok, check.
Have I touched lives or made an impact? That’s almost unfair, because when your entire career consists of non-profit work and nursing, that’s a given. You are always working with people and doing your best to better outcomes for someone else.
And lastly… do you understand your gifts? And are you sharing them with others? I mean….I think so? That one was a little bit more challenging to answer. But when he said his closing thought, it all made sense:
“Sometimes the road to success is not a clear trajectory to the top. Some people best utilize their gifts by making big picture change and moving vertically. Others impact change on a more personal level and the ripple effect of their impact is spread OUT, not up.”
I love that last thought. I love what my own mind told me because it means it was something I already knew that had been pushed down by my own insecurities and clouded thoughts.
I am someone whose gifts have been and likely always will be more personal to the situation. I enjoy working with people one-on-one to listen, offer help, or give hope. I enjoy writing quietly, without the criticism of a room, in the hopes that my words touch one person in some way that helps them or makes them feel understood. The impact I make on this world will likely be in small ripple form, not at the front of a room or at the top of a company. And that’s OK with me because if that’s the best way to utilize my gifts and to make impact, then that is precisely what needs to be done.
So ask yourself this: what does success look like to you? What are your gifts and are you maximizing whatever role you find yourself in right now? And when you leave this world, what type of impact will have been most important for you to make? No one can answer these questions but YOU.