This year’s summer breeze blew a lot of change into my life. By far the biggest change came in the decision to resign my full time position and take on the challenge of working as a full time consultant. You have not seen me write much about this massive life change and for good reason. I have learned that sometimes it is important to give myself time to process change before sharing it with a broader audience. While I loved the work that I did prior to making this change, I had to be brutally honest with myself about stepping into the fullness of my mission and purpose and that led me to action.
The path to this new adventure began several years ago in fact. At the time I was transitioning off of a large multi-institutional project that took me places that were far beyond my original expectations. I was entrusted with an awesome responsibility to help others using the full range of my creativity and problem solving skills and I am very proud of the work that I did during that period of my life. Once that project came to an end I had the opportunity to lend my skills to several other projects and organizations but with each of those positions there was this longing that at first I ignored but eventually I had to confront. I needed a bigger challenge. I needed space and the ability to flex and innovate in ways that make many people within traditional structures uncomfortable.
I am what some people refer to as an “education entrepreneur” meaning that I work to disrupt traditional education approaches in an effort to solve some of the toughest challenges that face our education system in the U.S. Being disruptive in the education sector does not come with the glitz and glamour that you see on shows like The Apprentice or Shark Tank. You do not see many venture capitalists investing money in the education sector to help innovate the way we teach and train our citizens. I am not talking about apps and technology that led to innovations in personalized learning, I am referring to the hands on pedagogical and androgogical approaches to learning that we as humans continue to need to learn in addition to technological supplement strategies. In conversation you will often hear people mimicking the words of that beloved Whitney Houston song, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way…”, but when it comes down to it, we all have very different views on how best to fund that teaching that we all agree is important.
Along my career path I learned a very important lesson, “Always start with budget”. If I wanted to be able to help educators to make the changes needed to meet the ever changing needs of students, I needed to figure out how to help them get the money to fund those changes. Not long into this revelation I also realized them importance of helping those educators plan strategically how to implement and sustain the work of those programs because money is important, but it ain’t everything when it comes to running successful programs.
I see now looking back that it was inevitable that I would reach the point where I focused my skills as a consultant in grants and business development. But believe me, taking the leap was not easy. It is comfortable relying on the perceived “security” of an 8 to 5 kind of job and when that job also allows you to work in “pieces” of your calling it can make you hesitant to answer the full call of your purpose. I hesitated and I can also see that now, but I am thankful that I finally took that leap.
The experiences I have had this summer have been divinely ordered. There is no other way that I can describe them. The longing that I have had in my heart to work with individuals and organizations that I love on a large scale is translating into the client list of my dreams and I am actually having to run to keep up with the activity. The freedom of being able to set my schedule say no to things that are not inline with my purpose has been transformative. Having the space to be able to engage with community organizations that matter to me from a civic perspective is also a liberating experience. I have time to get to know my neighbors and my city directors. I have time to visit my local libraries and coffee shops to meet people and allow them to get to know me. I had no idea much of this freedom was missing in my life while working within structures that required my 8 – 5 plus other times and duties as assigned.
Make no mistake, I do not work less as an independent contractor. What making this change has done for me is allow me to fully control my schedule in a way that better positions me to live my life fully. Change can often feel like quite a gamble, but how does that expression go, “Nothing risked, nothing gained”. I am grateful that I was finally able to move past the better part of caution and bet on myself for the win.
Life is too short to get stuck in a cycle that leaves you falling short of your full purpose. If you feel stuck, take time to reflect on how you can take steps to get unstuck. You do not have to do it alone. Reach out to resources for help at your local library or professionals like our TWA: Transformative Thursday writer, Coletta Patterson, if you need someone to help you take those steps.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.