I recently shared about the crazy life-changing adventure we’re going on next year. But I also want to address a few things that have come up in talking about it with you in the comments or social media about pursuing passions.
There are different seasons to life. There are times when opportunity strikes and when it doesn’t. There are times when either the budget or your time cannot be stretched any thinner. While we believe in pursuing an intentional life that uses your gifts and fulfills your passions, we don’t believe in shirking responsibility, living in a dream world, or being perpetually discontent with life when it’s not perfect.
Most of the time, the vast majority of us are dealing with the less than ideal. Maybe that dream of grad school isn’t possible right now with small children at home. Maybe you wish you could stay home with your kids, but it’s not a financially viable option right now. Maybe you’re doing a job you don’t want to be doing, but you desperately need it to pay the bills. How do you survive those times?
Because we’ve been there, here are a few things we’ve learned:
Live in the present
While certain things about our situation in the past few years haven’t been ideal, we still look on them as very happy years for our family. Perhaps the happiest of our lives. Just because everything isn’t stacking up how you dreamed, doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Don’t make the mistake of being perpetually discontent and always reaching for that next thing. There’s a kind of person who refuses to be happy no matter how great their situation and a kind of person who refuses to be discontent in the most difficult of circumstances. Nurture contentment.
Cultivate gratefulness to enjoy the now.
It might not be ideal, but there’s surely something to be grateful for. Maybe your job just pays the bills. While it might not be satisfying your dreams of personal fulfillment, if it pays the bills that’s certainly something to be grateful for! There’s nothing small about the grace of a consistent paycheck and being able to provide for your family.
When I was working full-time outside the home when my firstborn was a baby it was hard. I didn’t want to be working. I wanted to be home with my baby and leaving him each morning caused me physical pain. But a job with benefits that supported us and allowed Daniel to wrap up his degree–that was something to be grateful for. And so I tried to remember that the way I was called to love my family in that season might not be what I wanted to be doing forever, but it was the best I could do right then. Remembering that it was a season that wouldn’t last forever helped me make it through.
Sometimes a change either isn’t possible or would negatively impact your family. I think we all can think of someone whose family paid the price for the pursuit of his/her dream. If that’s the case, then it’s not the right season to pursue your passions. If pursuing your dream means stressing out your marriage or not being the parent you need to be to your children, take a step back and….
Do what you CAN to help your life reflect what you care about.
Maybe you can’t drop everything right this minute and pursue your dream. (That was us for several years.) Say your dream is buying a farm, but you don’t have the expertise needed to make it successful and you haven’t built up the savings you’d need to buy one (this is getting a bit autobiographical). Get some backyard chickens! Grow a vegetable garden! Do what you CAN to help your life reflect what you care about.
If you’re dreaming of going back to grad school, but it’s not the right time, do what you can to fulfill your desire to learn and grow and prepare yourself for when the time is right. No one says you can’t read books about the field you want to pursue, discuss ideas with fellow thinkers, catch up on academic journals, or attend open to the public lectures. You may not be enrolled in classes, but you can still use your public library. Do what you can to pursue your dream in your current situation without sacrificing your marriage or family. In addition to being fulfilling, these small steps will also make you more prepared when the time is right to make a big change. But…
Don’t lose your dream.
Do not let discontentment with the less-than-perfect steal your joy. Don’t be unrealistic about what you want instead of taking small steps to seek those goals in your current life. But don’t settle, either. Let yourself dream. And when the opportunity arises to pursue that life you love, don’t be afraid to seize it just because things are safe and comfortable. Adventures are never very safe and comfortable. If they were, they wouldn’t be adventures, right?
What are small ways you pursue your passions during the seasons when you can’t drop everything for your dream? Let’s start a conversation in the comments!
what a great post, I’m feeling encouraged.
This is a small example, but…for years I wanted to do missionary work abroad but it was nearly impossible. I felt like I could never go anywhere. Taking example from my patron saint, St Therese, I began to pray and morally support those who do go on mission, living vicariously through their stories. The Lord then opened opportunities to do mission in my own backyard (you can read about it here http://www.miamiarch.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Blog_141348726016379), and it has been preparing me and helping me grow in so many ways. NOW I finally got that opportunity to take that mission trip abroad!
God knows the desires of our hearts and He brings us to them in His way and timing. Reading your post has me thinking about taking little steps toward achieving other dreams I have! Thanks for sharing, Haley!
Love this, Haley. Such great advice.
One thing to add is sometimes when you’re in a season of life that your ideal isn’t possible there might be ways to help others. Perhaps you buy a share of a small farms CSA when you can have a farm or even a garden or make a point to support small business during the holidays or keep that job so a spouse can go back to school. Helping others can go along way to fostering contentment.
This has definitely been true for me!
Nurturing contentment is a big one for us right now as we are waiting for a referral in an adoption that has stretched on much longer than we were prepared for. Great post, Haley!
I hesitate to say, “That is the worst.” but of all the things I have done so far in life, that is one of the hardest. My heart truly goes out to you in this. I hope you are able to meet your little one soon 🙂
Thank you, Anna.
This is such a helpful post, with so much wisdom. Thank you.
I always think that writing about our dreams helps keep them alive. (Maybe that’s because being a writer always WAS my dream.) 🙂 Even beyond that, though, I have found that writing is a form of prayer, a way to listen to the desires God puts into our hearts and to learn how to articulate them. And doing something creative, in whatever form that creativity takes, is a way of moving forward.
Jen Stewart says
I need you to have a “like” button. Or no, a “love” button. I LOVE this post! What truth!
Lauren B says
Such a great, timely post. I’d really love to go back to finish my degree and pursue a career that I love. But my husband is in the Navy and where we are right now just isn’t allowing for that dream to become a reality. Instead, I’m at home with my kid (which is an awesome place to be, for sure), voraciously reading every book from the library, and picking up some fun hobbies that I’ve always wanted to try (sewing, calligraphy). I’ll get there one day, but for now, home is where I need to be. Thank you for writing this. I will work on fostering more contentment about my situation. 🙂
Your post is spot on. I have been fostering the same dream since I was in my early 20s and only now, in my mid-40s, am I finally just starting to live it. My timing did not match God’s but it has been worth the wait. While I was waiting for all the pieces to come together for my dream to come true, I just kept trying to take steps that moved me towards instead of away from that dream. In hindsight, I realize that all those years of waiting helped me get to where I am now. I wish you the best and look forward to reading more about your family’s “Big Adventure!”
John Culver II says
Rather a fitting time to read this, considering I think I’m in the in between time of moving toward my dream, but I’ll not get too excited. I have always enjoyed writing, but as a hobby, I had to make sure it did not take up time with my wife and the children. You made the subtle point of priorities above, well, I had to make sure my priorities were lined like a line of ducklings. To add another duckling to my duties, I got up at four o’clock in the morning in order to write my silly stories. While I hope to someday have more time for writing, I know I am doing right thing at this time… I know because even with my long work hours, Wife and the children don’t feel ignored.
This was lovely and spot-on, both as a description of my family’s past few years, and some good things to remember for right now!
Thank you, Haley! Honestly, I have been feeling pretty discouraged lately. I know that being home with my kids and homeschooling them is an important job, but sometimes I feel very unimportant. I long to do great things, to pursue great dreams.
What’s ironic is that this has always been my biggest dream.
I think something else that can be helpful for moms pursuing dreams is to be content with small steps. I am trying to write a novel. But sometimes, I get frustrated that I don’t have enough large chunks of time to work on it. Rather than seeking out those smaller opportunities to write, I can waste time dreaming of hours to spend writing each day.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Small steps count. Enough small steps and you can really begin to see progress.
Thank you so much for sharing this wise and insightful advice, and for having the courage to put yourself out there! God bless you and your work as you continue to bless others.
Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life says
This is exactly what I needed to hear! It’s been tough because my emotions have been on a rollercoaster or what I should be doing and what is not happening in the idea world. But everyday I wake up in a wonderful bed and get to go to a job with amazing people with a full stomach. It’s not not perfect but it’s definitely a blessed life.
Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose says
Thanks Haley! This topic has been on my mind a lot lately as we try to determine how we could go about pursuing our dreams while still being financially responsible and if now is the time to take that leap.
I needed to read this! After a whirlwind of adventure defining my twenties, I’ve been really struggling lately that my family’s current season of life has been such a drastic change–becoming an ex-expat, I suppose, was bound to be difficult. And of course so much worse when one’s peers were busy doing things like investing in property/building their careers/carefully spacing their children… the grind of trying to define life now against the real pressures & imagined pressures of being an adult! I find that I am forcing myself to realise that this current moment is our reality, and that we therefore must fight to preserve our dreams & standards in the face of things being less than we’d hoped for right now. It helps having children — this “now” is their childhood. Even if things never change, even if life remains a constant struggle, I want them to grow up knowing that in their family we all had the grace to bear our difficulties, the humility to be open about living our values, and the intelligence to seek out the unique opportunities that come our way.
I have an amazing husband who has always insisted that we have fun, no matter how grim things have been. Through the years we have started our own academic collection of books on the Middle Ages; we’ve read articles & gone out on dates to discuss them, just to keep our minds active; we are record & book collectors as a family hobby (treasures chosen both for love of possession & for love of use!); we are learning how to live out the liturgical year in our home; and we are always finding little victories to turn into times of celebration (like having a finale night after watching a TV series through).
This sums up where I am right now, the doors closing on a dream, and perhaps another one opening which wasn’t what I expected or dreamt about. It will probably be tough, but I’ll learn a lot and maybe I’ll help other people achieve their dreams . Perhaps one day, it will all make sense even if it doesn’t right now.
Johan Persyn says
Thanks, Haley. Christians don’t blame others and take the full responsibility. They ask Jesus to take care of their dream. I even ask forgiveness not to be aware of that dream. If we have to suffer, we take that cross, and we have all the inspiration on how Jesus took his cross. When I’m in the now by doing what you told us to do, I see more options. But you never have everything on your radar alone. Just talking with a trustworthy friend can help. When 2-3 comes together in my name … Love and blessings!