My kids are now 4 and almost 6.
I remember 7 years ago I had just gotten married and started to become braver in living my authentic life: I quit my job to write my first e-book, opened my Etsy shop and sold art prints and greeting cards, and started selling my products on consignment at a few local shops.
Once I became pregnant not too long after, I learned a few things about myself:
- Motherhood is a mindset. And like with all other big changes in my life, I focused all of my attention on it. I studied for it like it was a final exam. I read books, talked to friends, and began to nest. Along with managing diet, appointments, and simply trying to stay awake, it was difficult to find time or energy for anything else.
- I realized (though I didn’t have the words for it back then) that I didn’t want my time to equate money. Especially once my kids were born, the time away from them I would never get back. And it took a lot of time to maintain and track my products.
- In simply making a few dollars, I was able to prove for myself that I could do something outside of a 9–5 job that was of value.
After a few months of doing what I felt was the thing I was meant to do, I paused my art business.
Well, I guess it’s not a pause if you don’t go back to it.
Anyway, the next few years after that I flowed in life with newborns and toddlers. I’m not saying this was an easy time of life by any means, but I had found my purpose in those years. An all-encompassing feeling of being able to live in the moments, where sometimes minutes could feel like they expanded for hours. There was a timelessness to it all, where sometimes (especially in those first few months), I lost track of what day it was. But none of it mattered as long as I could tend to my baby’s needs.
There were periods of time throughout those early years where I started to add creativity back into my life, whether it was doing a watercolor challenge on Instagram for a hundred days (though mine stretched to more like 365 days), or finding time to write one blog article.
But I knew inside me there was still this longing to do more, and tap back into that entrepreneurial spirit. I’d have a few months of motivation, creating a visual narrative or writing an e-book, then it became too much to balance it all out.
Isn’t the reason for doing these side projects is because it’s what I was meant to do? I thought. Why else would I spend this precious time trying to create, build, and birth (pun intended) new ideas?
Over time, I realized two things.
- Life was simply about being able to try things and learn, and there’s a beauty in that. I’m grateful for always following my curiosity and learning, whether that was how to gain new skills like designing a branching game narrative on Twine or prepping my InDesign files as a proper digital book, or the sense of fulfillment I got when creating these experiences.
- I lacked clarity in articulating my personal mission in life. I was focused on the how and the next project I wanted to do, but not the why. This is ironic because this is the very thing I advocate for as a user experience designer.
Once my kids got close to their current ages and were able to spend more time playing alone or together than constantly needing me, I could shift my mindset towards prioritizing quality time with them while getting some time back for myself and the things that interested me. This meant I could also start to truly reflect on what my personal mission was.
My one sentence has evolved several times in the last year. I started with something like how I wanted to inspire other women to be curious, creative, and confident to how I wanted to create communities and experiences to inspire this.
In 2020 (thank you, quarantine) it simply evolved to “I want to live a life full of curiosity and growth.” While my other missions still held true, they were centered on doing, not being. And my why will always be around being.
When I encounter a decision that impacts how I spend my time, I always consider what’s at stake and how it aligns with my personal mission. This alone has led me to be bolder and say yes to even more new, exciting experiences.
Late last year, I formalized my ideas for Life Experience Design (also the name of the e-book I wrote a few years ago) and co-founded it as an LLC with my friend to go deeper into teaching others through workshops, podcasting, writing, and now just launched our digital course. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve also had opportunities to mentor, coach, and consult, and lead a team of 6 volunteers in a local design group I founded.
I’m sure I’ll be revisiting my personal mission again to make it even more clear and more aligned over time, but one thing is for sure: As a mom, the mindset shift and clarity in my personal mission has been invaluable in navigating what an ideal life is for me: quality time with family coupled with quality time for myself to stay curious and continuously learning.
Want a self-guided life coaching experience? Check out Design Your Ideal Life in Six Weeks, a new Udemy course I co-teach.