When I chose to quit my job as a non-profit manager in 1997, my son was two years old and I had no idea what I was getting into. On the first Monday in my new role, when I normally would have gone into work, my son woke up with the flu and threw up everywhere. I could hear the universe talking to me: “You want to be an at-home mom? Well, here’s what that looks like. Have fun!” I couldn’t help but laugh as I wiped up vomit from the couch. As an at-home mom, my wardrobe sucked. In fact, I wore crocs almost every day – they were cheap and practical. The pay was lousy; I scrimped and saved, took clothes to consignment, bought clothes at consignment. It didn’t matter what other people thought of my choice to be an at-home mom. What mattered is that that job was what I had to do. My Internal Status Barometer (IBS)—my self-concept and self-respect—inched higher when I did the work my soul was calling me to do. After my husband lost his job eight years ago, we decided that I should re-join the workforce. After my nine year hiatus, it took a long time to find a job, but I did find one: a starting-level position at a non-profit. Though I was happy to be part of an agency whose mission I supported, my Internal Status Barometer took a dive. I was 47-years-old and I felt like I was starting my career at square one. I ditched the crocs and dressed the part of a casual professional. I climbed the miniscule ranks and within eighteen months was the program director, a position similar to the one I left to be home with my kids. My IBS inched higher. It climbed higher still as I implemented quality practices into our program, and even more as I earned the respect of my staff. When I was promoted to the executive director position, I was surprised that my Internal Status Barometer didn’t spike as I expected it would. I learned that it isn’t the title that earns my respect, it’s what I do in that position that matters. Unfortunately, I was only in that position a year before we had to close the agency due to issues that were years in the making. I suspect that had I been executive director for longer and had more successes, the needle on my ISB would have indeed risen.
After nearly seven years of working, I’m back at home, without a traditional job. I am an at-home mom again, back to wearing jeans every day. And my ISB is spiking. You want to know why?
I am pursuing a dream: publishing my book. I didn’t realize how much weight I gave this particular life path until I found myself on it.
Ironically, though I’m pursuing a life dream, I don’t wake up every day eager, overjoyed and excited. On the contrary, pursuing my dream puts me face to face with myself and my issues. I often wake up with angst: What will my learning curve be today, what brick wall will I be hitting myself against? I often question the path: Should I just get another job? Am I using my time productively? Does what I do matter? Am I worth the money we are putting into this?
But my IBS, that touchstone within myself that tells me when I’m on the right path, is humming.
I feel like I’m morphing into someone new. That’s what dreams do, they help us shed what we don’t need from a previous identity and help us morph, like a caterpillar, into who we need to be.
When we trust our dreams, our dreams deliver.
Do you feel your Internal Status Barometer? When does it spike? What one small step you can take today to inch your IBS a little higher?