Why Dreaming Big and Feeling Content Are Not Mutually Exclusive

dreaming big

I distinctly remember a moment last summer that puts everything into perspective for me. I had just gotten back from a week’s vacation, and instead of swimming in the lake with Finn and David and the rest of my family, I was sitting in a meeting room – one without any windows – listening to everyone else’s to-do list for the week, trying my best to look interested. (I don’t think I pulled that off very well.)

I went back to my desk and tried my hardest to hold back the tears that would inevitably come. I had just come back from vacation! Shouldn’t I feel refreshed and recharged?

I got scolded later that day for not being a team player. Because everyone else had been working the previous week, I should feel grateful to them. I understood the point, but it didn’t matter. It’s not that I didn’t feel grateful, it’s that I felt nothing. I wanted to care more, but I didn’t. And that made me feel worse!

That day at my office was the lowest I had ever been. I blame some of it on pregnancy, but most of it was based on the feeling of wanting more! More time with my family, more purpose in my work, more flexibility.

I had never felt more misunderstood and more alone. I had a great job, I was well-respected there, I made good money… and I didn’t want any of it. Do you know how guilty that made me feel? I often thought about how I should lower my expectations, how people who don’t dream big are happier because they are content with what they have.

It took me almost a year to really understand that “dreaming big” and “being content” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that without one, the other is impossible.

A year later, I am working my butt off to start a business, while simultaneously taking care of a six month old. I also have my three year old home with me one or two days a week, and my poor husband gets whatever is left of me. I work early in the morning and late at night. I have had to step outside my comfort zone on a daily basis. Sometimes I don’t shower, I go days without talking to adults besides David, and I spend more time thinking about what I’m doing rather than doing it!

And it’s in this mess that I’ve found true contentment.

I have big dreams – bigger dreams than I talk about on here or Instagram or even with my closest friends and family. But because I allow myself to dream, and most importantly to work towards those dreams, I have found contentment in my life.

It’s quite simple, really. When you remove negativity and you take control of your time, the days seem less hectic. You start to think about where you are going to be six months or a year from now. You start thinking of the little things you can do today that will get you there. You stop resenting the people around you and you find beauty in the little things. You take better care of your body, you pay attention to your finances, you start happening to your life rather than just letting life happen to you. You become content with the person you are.

I don’t suggest that everyone go quit their job in order to become content, but I do recommend allowing yourself to dream. A year ago, I was dreaming of being a business owner, spending time with my babies, and really going after something that I had thought about for years. Now, that’s my reality. That day in the office really shined a light on how little I was doing to make my life what I wanted.

Today, I’m dreaming big about my future and feeling content about my present. What is it in your life that’s going to get you feeling the same way?

Continue Reading

What’s Your Enneagram Type?

If you know me, then you know I love a good personality test. I find the results so interesting, and usually spot-on. I took the Enneagram test a while back and recently re-took it to see if my original results were validated.

Spoiler alert – they were.

What’s an Enneagram?

If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram, it’s essentially a personality test that puts you into one of nine categories based on how you relate to yourself and the world around you:

  1. The Reformer – the rational, idealistic type
  2. The Helper – the caring, interpersonal type
  3. The Achiever – the success-oriented, pragmatic type
  4. The Individualist – the sensitive, withdrawn type
  5. The Investigator – the intense, cerebral type
  6. The Loyalist – the committed, security-oriented type
  7. The Enthusiast – the busy, fun-loving type
  8. The Challenger – the power, dominating type
  9. The Peacemaker – the easy-going, self-effacing type

When you take the test, you are given an Enneagram type – your main type – and then a secondary result, which is called your wing. This dials into your personality even more.

Like any personality test, I think it’s important to note that the explanation can become an easy excuse to validate some of your shortcomings or a way to explain away why you are the way you are. Instead, you should use these results to understand how you work, be aware of what you are good at and what you may struggle with, and also be aware of the other types so you know others strengths and weaknesses as well.

It’s also important to understand the difference between how each type perceives themselves and how others perceive them. For example, an 8 type may come across loud and overbearing to some, but to themselves they may think they are coming across as confident or decisive.

What’s My Type?

The very fact that I love personality tests should give away my Enneagram number.

Any last minute guesses?

I’m a 4 – the individualist.

Do I agree with this? Absolutely.

From The Enneagram Institute:

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious… At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

A four’s basic fear is that they have no identity or personal significance and our basic desire is to find that significance. At our worst, a four can become depressed and melancholy.

Basically, a four sees themselves as unique and different, something I can relate to! The older I get, the more introverted I become, and the more in touch with my emotions I feel. I keep this blog, I write in journals, I listen to music and watch movies just to get all the feels. I can certainly be moody, but when I’m at my best, I am creative and passionate. I am very self-reflective and overly self-aware, almost to a fault, but at the end of the day just wish to live a life full of meaning.

“The Aristocrat”

Technically, my Enneagram is a 4w3 – a four with a three wing. These two types tend to conflict with one another. Four’s are introverted and self-aware while three’s are extroverted and lack self-awareness! However, both ultimately relate to one’s self-esteem. Fours with a three wing are competitive and want to make something of themselves, but usually fear success and possible humiliation.

I can absolutely relate with being “The Aristocrat”. It’s not that I’ve never felt confident, but when I do, I quickly second guess myself. After reading more about this, it certainly validates my feelings about myself, but more than that, it makes me realize that the fact that I’m questioning myself doesn’t have to do with a lack of confidence, but rather an overflow of self-awareness.

If you’re interested with this kind of stuff, I suggest taking the quiz and reading more about your type at The Enneagram Institute. You can also find free Enneagram quizzes across the internet.

Leave a comment below and let me know what type you are and if you agree with it! Why or why not?

Continue Reading

What Are Your Weaknesses?

Last week I wrote about knowing your core competency and why it’s so important to understand what you are good at. Today, we’re flipping the coin. It’s equally as important to know what you aren’t good at for plenty of reasons – most importantly, so you can give yourself a little grace when you find yourself struggling.

The Journey To Understanding Your Weaknesses

I’m going to start with a little story – in high school, I was one of those people who was pretty good at everything she did. I played sports, sang, did musicals, was in advanced placement classes, joined all the clubs, graduated seventh in my class and got along with mostly everyone. I don’t say this to brag, it was just my reality.

It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that it was only in my high school setting was that going to be the case. I went to a very, very small school and felt comfortable trying new things, or things I wasn’t great at, because I knew everyone involved. I also had a greater chance at being good at something comparatively just because there were less people going out for things. Had I gone to a bigger high school, I would have likely specialized in one thing or not even given it all a chance.

That being said, this situation didn’t exactly set me up for success. Once I went to college and became a small fish in a big pond, I could no longer be the jack-of-all-trades that I was in high school. I went from being above average in most things to just one of the masses. I had to start thinking about these things – what am I really good at? What am I really interested in? What am I really not that great at?

The first time I remember failing, hard, was in an accounting class in college. It was the first time I really struggled at understanding something. It was such a strange moment for me – I thought I was good at everything. I thought being “smart” would just be enough. It wasn’t until long after that class that I felt okay with the struggle and failure. I cannot and will not be good at everything, and only recently can I say I’m okay with that!

My Weaknesses

I struggled with accounting because I’m just not a numbers person. I was confused by this at first because I really, really enjoyed calculus, but looking back I can chalk that up to having an exceptional teacher! In my previous job, a lot of the work required reports and analytics. It was not that I couldn’t do or understand the work, but it took me twice as long to do those things as everyone else around me.

I’m also not great at detail. I’m a big picture type of person, so I’m the person throwing out big ideas in a brainstorm meeting, but when it gets to the nitty gritty about how we are going to accomplish those things, I shy away.

I have other weaknesses as well. I’m not very organized. I get overwhelmed with the thought of organization and putting things in order so usually I just choose not to. I also get incredibly awkward about meeting new people and would rather sit at home than go to a new place.

Weaknesses Are Just Opportunity

The good thing I’ve discovered about my weaknesses is that they are usually someone else’s strength and if you ask for help in understanding things, you are in a perfect opportunity to learn.

I have learned that I have a tendency to just duck and hide instead of facing my weaknesses head on. Because of this, I’ve made it a point this year to be intentional about learning about things I usually suck at! I’ve been reading, taking webinars and asking people I know excel in these areas for better explanations. I also recognize that when numbers or the “nitty gritty” have to get done, I need to truly focus. I know it’s going to take me longer because it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I also recognize that some of my weaknesses come out of insecurity or uncomfortable situations. I have to be intentional about getting uncomfortable, because it’s outside your comfort zone that you truly grow as a person.

By understanding your weaknesses, you are only setting yourself up for success. Not everything will come easily because we are all built differently. Do you know what your weaknesses are?

Continue Reading

What’s Your Core Competency?

Happy Monday! I love that I now look forward to Mondays instead of feeling dread. All weekend long I was thinking about all the work I was looking forward to getting done this week. What a totally different feeling that is!

Since launching my own business, I’ve been watching a ton of Shark Tank. The show is so entertaining, but also inspiring and educational. It breathes fire into my passion of entrepreneurship!

One thing I’ve taken away from the show is that Mark Cuban repeatedly asks the entrepreneurs “What is your core competency?”

I didn’t give much thought to the question at first, but the more I heard him ask, I started to wonder what my core competency was.

I think it’s important to understand what you are really good at, and also understand what things you may struggle with in all facets of life. It helps David and I in our marriage and as parents. It helps you pick a major when you decide to attend college. It helps you in job interviews and in countless other areas of your life.

I think a common misconception is that life is about being great at all things. And of course this is something to strive for, but ultimately, we each have something inside of us that we are just really, naturally great at.

After giving this some thought over the past few weeks, I’ve determined that my core competency is telling stories in a way that attracts people to listen. I’ve been able to develop this skill in my career over the past few years and I’ve realized I’m really good at it.

You might be thinking, storytelling, really? Well, yes. I tend to think there is beauty in a journey. I like to think the bad times make the good times better. I take a topic like “core competencies” and turn them into think pieces. My goal is to tap into your inner workings and relate to something inside of you. I can do that with a story about a patient who has overcome an illness, I can do that while talking about my breastfeeding journey, and I can do that by asking really silly questions that make you think. I’m good at telling stories and getting people to react! That’s my core competency.

So, now, if I’ve done my job correctly, I’ve got you thinking about what your biggest strength is? Is it math and numbers? Is it caring for others? Is it your inter-personal skills? Are you great at thinking of big ideas? Are you a writer and pay attention to the details of the grammar and punctuation that is used? (This is something I need to hone in on!)

No matter who you are, you have a skill that stands above the rest. And the best part is, you probably already know what it is and maybe even use it to your advantage.

My older sister, for instance, has a knack for giving practical advice. She’s always been the most mature person in the room and her vibe gives off a very mothering nature. She is still the person I call for parenting advice, to read over my resume or other important documents. She has a way about her that makes me trust what she has to say and nine times out of ten, I implement her advice. She has taken this strength of hers and used it to her advantage in her career path. She is about to graduate with her doctorate and is going to be a professor. She has taught countless students over the past few years. She’s just a natural at it.

My younger sister is the life of the party. This used to mean that she was the funny one or the most outgoing, but as she’s aged, this skill has become something I depend on in my life. She always knows how to break the ice. She can make uncomfortable situations worthwhile. She has become dependable and trustworthy because of this skill. She has a knack for people and she has used this skill in her career by becoming an executive assistant at one of the biggest companies in the US. Her boss has sang her praises countless times and I’m so proud of her for turning her skill of being “the life of the party” into something constructive and positive!

Another example, my husband. David is a perfectionist, and as much as that term gets a negative connotation, David has flipped that stereotype on its head. When he puts his mind to it, there isn’t a thing he hasn’t been able to perfect in our almost nine years together. He became a blue bet in Jiu Jitsu in under two years. He has caught some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen. He started tying flies for fly fishing and within months started selling them for real money. He has moved up at jobs he has no business working at, because on paper, he doesn’t have the skill. David’s core competency is perfecting the skill he needs to succeed. It’s an impressive quality to watch from the outside. When the rest of us are busy second-guessing ourselves, David decides he is going to be great at something and then proves himself right.

The point I’m trying to make is that your core competency isn’t necessarily something practical. It doesn’t have to be something tangible or simple like “I’m great at cooking” or “I’m really good at making the bed.” It can be something tangential or theoretical. We all have something inside of us, what’s yours?

Continue Reading

Scout Creative Agency

madewell bellflower ruffle dress

About a month ago, I announced that I was leaving my corporate job to go out on my own. The past few weeks have been spent doing a lot of brainstorming, a lot of networking, and a lot of coding. I’m finally ready to announce that I’ve officially launched Scout Creative Agency!

What is Scout Creative?

Scout Creative is a full service digital marketing agency. I help businesses optimized their digital presence by creating rockstar content and managing social media. I will also be producing video and photography content and consulting on strategy as well.

These are all skills that I’ve developed over the past 10 years working in this industry and I’m confident that my experience will maximize growth for companies I work with.

My bread and butter will be content creation as that’s what I’m most passionate about. I have been producing video and photography for a living for the past 4.5 years, and I’m pretty good at it!

Why ‘Scout’?

For those of you who know me, I have loved the name Scout for a little girl for as long as I remember. When I found out we were having a girl, I begged and begged David to name her Scout, but he wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t change his mind. (That’s okay, because Reese is the perfect name for our little babe.)

So when it came time to name my business, Scout was a natural choice. This company is my third baby (well, fourth cause I’ve got my Juneau, too). I have been and will continue to put my heart and soul into this thing!

What’s next?

Now that I’m officially open for business, I will be taking on clients to help with their digital marketing needs. I’m not limiting myself to the central Virginia area (thanks to the internet, lots can be done remotely from anywhere!)

I already work with several small businesses and am looking for more. If you know of anyone who may need my services, please pass along my information. I can’t wait to see where this thing goes!

Continue Reading