Ten years ago, on April Fool’s Day, I eloped with a man I knew I didn’t belong with. We thought we were being so clever, getting married on April Fool’s Day. Two years later, we divorced…so I guess the joke was on us.
As it happens, when we agreed to split up, I had just come to spend two weeks volunteering in Kenya. He sent me an email asking for a divorce, which I read in a little cyber cafe in Kawangware, and I looked around me and said, “well, I guess I live in Kenya now.”
It wasn’t only that the future we’d planned together had just been canceled. It was also that here in Kenya I felt a vitality to my work that I’d spent my entire adulthood looking for, and I didn’t want to let that go. So I stayed.
I spent years figuring out how to monetize my passion work of helping women take agency over their lives. In the process, I learned many lessons about taking agency over my life. I didn’t have that agency ten years ago when I married a man I knew was not my life partner.
But I have it now.
One arm of my passion work is coaching female entrepreneurs. I help them differentiate between their career (where they earn their income) and their calling (the way they came into this world to be a contribution). Nearly all fempreneurs, nowadays, are trying to combine the two, myself included. Women are no longer content to work one job to support themselves while they fit in their passion work in volunteer stints on the side—now they want to support themselves with that passion work. Do you relate?
If you’re struggling to find the overlap between your career and your calling, don’t despair—it’s a journey with many different stages, and if you’re not yet where you want to be, it only means you need to keep going.
To help find clarity around your calling, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- when I was a kid, what did I love so much that I did it for hours?
- what do people often approach me to ask me for advice about?
- if I could volunteer in secret, what would I choose to be involved in?
- what do I love so much that I’d do it for free?
Some of the answers you have might not seem practical as means for making money. But look at what’s behind your answer. Is there a theme? Even if it seems like a stretch, stay open.
All my answers, for example, involve writing and women’s empowerment—and guess what, I’m a writer who creates educational products to empower female entrepreneurs. Seven years ago, when my marriage ended and I started my life over in Kenya, I was clear on my calling of empowering women, but it took years to turn that into a career. And those years were invaluable. Don’t worry if you can’t think how you’ll get to where you want to be—just get clear on where that is, and then take baby steps.
One thing I know: as women in business, we get to go just as far as we dare—so make April the month you explore new territory and take a step deeper into becoming the contribution you came here to be!