I’m a planner.
I mean, I LOVE to plan. I especially love to plan my life, but I am also content to plan class schedules, any kind of event, cleaning routines, vacations, weddings, my garden – even the birth of my child!
My love (and need) of a good plan did not start in adulthood. In 8th grade I decided what I “wanted to be when I grew up”. I selected my University and proceeded to make a 4 year, 9 year and 15 year plan. This including graduating High School at the top of my class and being involved in all the things, attending a state university that was highly regarded in the field of education and completing their 5 year Master program, followed up 5 years of teaching while getting my Doctorate and gaining a coveted position as Superintendent of Schools by the time I turned 30. Of course, sprinkled into this mix, were getting married at 22, having two kids and staying home with them while I also completed these massive professional goals.
Oh, and did I mention that my ambition and drive matched my love of planning? My life philosophy was pretty much summed up in this high school cheerleading chant “Do it, To It…Be The Best!” If you are wondering, yes, I would literally “cheer” myself on using this phrase.
However, even the best made plans (trust me, I make GREAT plans) don’t always work out the way we anticipate.
As it turns out, I did graduate at the top of my class in high school and had my hand in just about every kind of activity. However, what I discovered is that I found joy in few of these extracurriculars because most of them were little more than “resume-builders”. I did get into that university, but their scholarship offer disappointed me so I chose to go to a small, local Catholic university that offered me nearly a full-ride and seemed to appreciate my exorbitant hours of community service. I pursued a degree in Special Education but by the start of my Senior year had come to the conclusion that teaching was NOT the career path for me, leaving behind the only profession I had ever considered.
When I looked back at all of this, what was my response? To make a new plan!
So goes the cycle of my life – make a plan, see plan thwarted, make a new plan.
With my life plan was no longer as streamlined or secure as my dreamy 13 year-old self imagined it would, I began to suffer from what I humorously referred to as “Goldilocks Syndrome” (thanks, Urban Dictionary for summing up my life in one paragraph!).
I should probably also mention here that I am a recovering perfectionist. I struggle to let go of the belief that there is a perfect and best way to do just about everything. Let’s just say that this led to about a decade of therapy and the therapists I saw definitely earned their paycheck with me!
For the next 15 years following my graduation from college (I did finish that degree in teaching) I have been on the search for “the just-right job” In my cover letters I like to include the phrase “I have diverse and multifaceted career experience.” What this translates to is that I’ve done every kind of work imaginable – paid and unpaid. From proctoring the ACT, to ministry, to urban neighborhood development to teaching (yes, I did use that degree eventually), to managing a Starbucks and an on and on. During this time, I worked for some amazing companies and some that weren’t so great. I also had some amazing bosses and some I was happy to say farewell to when the time came. No matter how dedicated I was to these roles and experiences, after a year or two I would have this gnawing feeling that “this just wasn’t the right fit.”
All of these professional experiences afforded me amazing insight and perspective into myself, others, and the world. I wouldn’t trade this journey but it also wasn’t one that could be maintained indefinitely (in case you are wondering, it does get a little exhausting to learn an entirely new job in an entirely new field every few years).
Fast-forward to 2018. I was happily working in my role at Starbucks and found myself with a surprise pregnancy and some major life changes (including moving and getting married). Time for a new plan!
It’s amazing how building a life with another person and becoming a parent can instantly bring into focus what matters. Once that little one was growing inside of me, I knew I needed (and wanted) to embrace a different professional path. This article by coach Erika Gerdes really resonated with me. After an amazing career working at her dream company, she shares “What I came to realize is that wanting to work for an amazing company surrounded by wonderful people isn’t the same thing as knowing what I want to do with my life…. because what I’ve learned is: if it doesn’t feel right, no matter how great it may look on the outside, it’s time to make a change.”
I’d spent most of my professional life doing what “looked right” – to others, to myself, to the plans I had made. Now, it was time to connect with my heart and do what FELT right.
I knew I was taking a 4-month maternity leave following the birth of my baby but after that the future was uncertain. For one of the few times in my life, I didn’t have a plan. Even more, the plans I attempted to make didn’t feel right and I was more committed than ever that it was time to let my Goldilocks-searching mind for the “perfect” job take a back seat and take this next step with my heart. Cue my friend, Rachel, and this Facebook post…
Through a long series of FB messages, Rachel shared with me her journey of starting her own business as a Virtual Assistant. As she shared her story and we messaged back and forth I FELT this was the right path for me to pursue. I NEVER planned to become an entrepreneur. I NEVER planned to be a work-at-home mom. I NEVER planned to use my “diverse and multifaceted” experience to CREATE a career I loved. I also NEVER felt better, more excited or more energized!
For me, the next step was joining The Virtual Savvy! This course CHANGED everything. It gave me a plan and the courage + community to launch my own business. Within three months of launching I was running a PROFITABLE business and loving life as a #mompreneur.Now that my business’ first birthday is approaching I’m more grateful than ever and am having so much fun serving my clients, living a life I love and DREAMING OF POSSIBILITIES!
What about that Goldilocks syndrome? I’m learning that for me, “just-right” means staying aligned to my heart and what I feel. It also means holding my plans loosely and living in the truth that “just-right” isn’t static but always evolving. What may be “just-right” in my business today may not be true a year, three years, or five years from now. What I know right now is that being a #mompreneur, running my own business, and supporting business owners in making their vision a reality fills my bucket. I am certainly living the best life I never planned.
If you’d like to hear more about how The Virtual Savvy
helped me successfully launch my business as a Virtual Assistant,
comment below. I’d be happy to help you discover what
your “just-right” path could look like!
Vanessa Anne Lawson
May 23, 2020