• Liz Applegate

Learning to pivot

Updated: May 15, 2018


If you want to see a more simplified version of how I got here, see my cartoon post here.


This Line we Call Life

In geometry, a line is perceived as being a solid shape. In reality, however, it is just a compilation of points that have been placed so close together they give the illusion of being solid.

This is how it is in life. Everything seems to be moving along smoothly on this solid line, things are going well, until you suddenly look down and realize – there’s not another point in front of you. Panic strikes. What do you do?


You pivot.

__________________

When my husband and I started having kids, I had a full-time job that I loved working in management for a prestigious software company. I loved waking up and going to my job - I felt I was contributing to a cause I believed in, I felt needed and I felt seen. This job offered me a personal identity that fulfilled me.

Soon, however, I had another identity that fulfilled me as well. I had become a mother and a wife and I loved these roles, also. They too fulfilled me--in a different way, of course--but they were fulfilling nonetheless. Over time, my husband and I grew into a well-oiled machine. We would wake up, get our (now) three kids ready, take them to the babysitter, go to our individual jobs, work a full day, leave work, pick up the kids, take them home, get them dinner, put them to bed and then fall into bed exhausted – only to get up the next day to start the process all over again.


Weekends were not ours either as we were typically running errands, doing laundry, going to church or just working on personal projects that we were not able to get to earlier in the week because we both worked a full-time job and had three children. Sometimes I felt like I was actually the babysitter as my young kids spent the majority of their waking day at their “other house”.


I found that my two perfect identities were constantly colliding and the guilt was overwhelming.


That’s when the niggling started. (Note: I have since learned to listen to these promptings as they are usually telling me I have reached a trajectory change in my life line and it is time to pivot.)

The amazing company I worked for was bought out and my job was changing – I still had a strong, solid job that paid very well, but now it just wasn’t as amazing as it had been and the joy I felt each day had somehow diminished.


In the meantime, my husband and I both began to feel the promptings that it might be the time for one of us to become the full-time parent. It made sense financially for me to be the one to continue working since I had the larger income, but together we decided to do what we felt was right for our family and made the changes necessary so I could come home full time. (Some might argue that this was a sexist decision, but it was OUR decision and what we felt was right for OUR family. Each family is different and I respect that.) We took a large cut in income, moved away from family to a different state and started new jobs: my husband with a company in his field of study and me as a new full-time mommy. Did it scare me? Heck yeah! A lot. But we’re not put on this earth to be safe, we’re put on this earth to grow. I knew it was right for our family and so the growing pains would be worth it.


Enter new life.


To say that life at home for me without a validating, paycheck-paying career was all “bonbons and ice cream” would be a lie. We struggled financially. I thought somehow living this “poor” life would be somehow glamorous. (Glamorous? Really #pastme, what were you thinking?) And then it wasn’t. I knew I was doing the right thing for my family, one that God had led us to, I just needed to figure out a way to make this work.


So I began to brainstorm about ways I could make money and still have a front row seat to my children’s lives. I had worked all through college as a receptionist and had great typing skills from my previous job in corporate America so I began to brainstorm how I could use that talent to help others and make money. The only work-from-home jobs that I was aware of at that time were Avon and medical transcription. I knew the direct sales route was definitely not for me, so I began to look into medical transcription. I mean, really, how hard can it be? You listen to someone talk and you type what he says. Simple. (Again, #pastme, what were you thinking? Hello?! Medical terminology? Ever heard of it? Of course you haven’t, you’re not a freakin’ medical transcriptionist! But #pastme didn’t know this, so I gloried in the bliss of ignorance.)

Since I was now pregnant with child number four I was visiting a doctor on a regular basis and had the perfect opportunity to “make my move”. With debilitating fear in my heart, I mustered all my courage and on my next appointment asked my doctor who did his transcription. That was it. Who does your transcription? No long elaborate speech about how I was needing a job and how I wanted to make money working from home and how my children were destitute - just a simple, Who does your transcription? He didn’t laugh at me or scold me. In fact, he was very generous. He not only gave me his transcriptionist’s name, but he also provided me with her phone number.


I walked out of his office doing a veritable happy dance. I couldn’t believe it. I had actually done it! I was stinkin’ scared and I still did it! I suddenly had an inkling that perhaps, just maybe, I might be able to actually do this, and so I carefully moved on to phase II of Get Liz the Transcriptionist Job.

I went home and immediately called her. Well I meant to immediately call her. But again, Fear began to scream at me - not quite as quietly as before. “What do you think you are doing? You’re not a medical transcriptionist! You are a fake, an imposter! Just stay home. You’re trying too hard. Give up. Stay in your comfort zone. This is really asking too much.”


But then I remembered what had been whispered to my heart before: we are not put on this planet to stay in our comfort zones. We are put here to grow, and develop and learn. I knew what I wanted and so I again marshaled my courage and called the name on the little piece of paper in my hand.


After I hung up the phone, my brain literally exploded. Well maybe not literally, but figuratively at least! Why had I been so afraid? Really, what is the worst that could have happened? She had been so kind. In fact, she actually needed help and said she would be willing to train me so that I could learn this skill. Really?! She needed MY help and I was doing HER a favor by easing her load! (I have found that this is how it works sometimes. When we step out of our comfort zones and share our skills we actually end up helping others.) I literally thanked my Heavenly Father for bringing me to this point and giving me the courage to pivot when the time was right.


And so I stepped onto a new point on a newly created trajectory on my line of life and started running a business from my home. And.it.felt.amazing. I had actually done it! I beat the voices trying to tell me I wasn’t good enough -- and I freakin’ did it! I had arrived at a major pivot in my life and had successfully navigated it. I could do this! Pivot point mastered? Check! What do you hold for me now Life? Bring it on!

___________________

Some may ask, did my life ever turn into “bonbons and ice cream”? Well, no. Life isn’t meant to be easy. But that discussion is for another day.

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