A few years ago, when my hands were the most full with toddlers and laundry and diapers, I somehow managed to sneak away for a brief coffee with a friend who was visiting from out of town. We spoke about many things; our lives were in very different places. Her, a single career woman and me, a full-time stay-at-home-mom with three small kids. One thing we’ve always had in common is a love of writing. So, naturally she asked me if I was working on anything in particular. I explained how very busy I was, taking care of my kids and my house and how I couldn’t possible be so selfish as to take time for something purely for my own enjoyment when everyone needed me so much all the time.
“God wants you to use your talents,” she told me. “It’s not selfish. Selfish is keeping your gifts all to yourself.”
This might sound like old news to you, but to me it was a revelation.
Fast forward a few years and I’m now a writer who has been published in many places including Scary Mommy and the “front page” of The Huffington Post. I was even a Runner-Up in a Writing Contest last year.
My very favourite thing in this writing journey I’ve finally undertaken has been some of the comments I’ve received from readers. Some are from complete strangers who’ve read my blog or my published articles and wanted to tell me how something I ‘d written had encouraged them or changed their perspective in a good way. This is what I seek to do, find meaning in the mundane aspects of life and help others to do the same. It’s why I’ve recently started a jewelry business, hand stamping words that mean something to people on solid stainless steel pieces they can keep close to them.
I’ve had several people say to me they wish they could pursue a dream they have. But that for whatever reason they can’t. And I understand. For so long I couldn’t either. Sometimes it’s completely true, whether because of finances or family or work or health issues you just can’t do the thing you really want to.
But sometimes you can and you don’t realize it until you start.
Here’s the secret: You don’t start at Step 457 in the process. Or Step 12 or Step 38 or Step 907. You start at Step 1. It’s not always as obvious as it sounds. There are always obstacles and reasons why not to and people who think you’re wasting your time. It all makes you think that maybe they’re right and so you don’t.
But in most cases, you don’t have to start with a huge commitment unless that’s something you’re ready to do. For most of us, big changes happen slowly. It’s one reason I don’t like binge-watching shows (my apologies to the Netflix obsessed!). Everything happens too quickly for me to process and it leaves my head spinning. Real life isn’t lived that way.
Start small if you need to. I started simply by researching how to start a blog. I had no grand ideas of where it would take me or even if I would go ahead with it. But it was Step 1.
Then, do the next thing. That’s my best and most practical advice. If you want to move in the direction of your dreams always do the Next Thing. Don’t wait for something to happen for you, or to you, or around you. Just take a small step in the direction you want to go. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the beginning. That’s the key. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know and you can finally leave it behind. Or maybe it will lead you into something great and completely unexpected. That happens sometimes, too.
These last couple of years I’ve been inspired by several friends who have started new adventures at this stage in their lives. Some great businesses have suddenly sprung up around me and I’m so proud of the women I know who are taking steps in the direction of their dreams. I say “suddenly” but I know in most cases the process has been slow and some of these women have been filled nearly to bursting with self-doubt. I know I have. But they all did the Next Thing and they will continue to do it wherever that may lead them. They are making lives better for their families and friends and even people they’ve never met before simply by putting their own talents and passions to work. And they honour God through their work by using the gifts he’s given them to bring light to those around them. Each in different ways and with different skills and abilities. I am so impressed by these women and so excited and honoured to share in their journeys.
I could praise them all day but now it’s time for me to go work on my Next Thing! I hope today you take one small step in the direction of your dreams, too.
Here are a few of the websites recently begun by the inspiring women around me. (These are in no way affiliate links. I am just so proud of these women and their work!)