At 39 weeks pregnant with my second child, I was surprised when my coworker yelled at me, “You’re still here!?” My husband had lost his job unexpectedly a few weeks prior, so social grace wasn’t something I could afford anymore. Since I’m departing from my original plan of leaving a week before my due date, now I have time to rest and maybe focus on nesting.

“Of course I am,” I responded bleakly. I planned to not go back to my unrewarding job after my maternity leave ended, but days before my daughter’s birth, nothing came up and I wasn’t feeling very positive that anything would change.

In the blink of an eye, ten weeks had passed and I found myself back at my dreary job. To add insult to injury, I continued looking for something new while reading articles about women who took the plunge– quitting their jobs and moving to places they’d always dreamed of. These ladies didn’t have it all figured out; instead, they got whatever jobs were available to them as they worked on manifesting their dream careers.

As a mother of two little girls, wife to an amazing spouse, and provider of medical and dental insurance for my family, the notion that I could just quit my job and wait for something better to crop up was quite discouraging. Not only was I unhappy with my job, but it began to affect my physical health, relationship, and role as a parent.

I began looking for an answer, wondering how to fill my need for professional satisfaction. I found articles about side hustles everywhere, and while they seemed like a great solution, the idea of starting one was also exhausting. I decided that my side hustle didn’t have to make me money by flipping the script on its head. After all, I was already working and I knew from experience that if I kept working hard for little pay, it would only keep me in the same place. I pledged to write on my blog every week, and I’m ecstatic to say that I’ve kept up with that goal.

Before I became pregnant with my daughter, When I found out I was going to be a parent, it was too late to back out of my election for an open school board seat–which I ended up winning. Then, dedicating more energy to being a better board member, even though the changes to our community aren’t because of me. Even though we’re facing a lot of political challenges, I’m still proud of the progress we’re making to improve our schools.

I decided to go back to school after discussing it with my husband. I realized that if I wanted something better, such as a higher-paying job, then I need to get a more advanced degree. My goal is to finish my masters in May of 2019 so that I am done before my oldest daughter starts kindergarten.

As I look back on my life, I’m seeing more and more patterns emerge. It’s something that I appreciate being able to see from a bird’s eye view. For example, 20 years ago when I was in first grade, I remember writing in my journal about the importance of taking my time (speaking wasn’t one of my strong suits back then). I am a graduate student and I have been taking my time to focus on each course. This is only my second semester, but I have already earned an A. In addition, My work provides me with great satisfaction and feels like I’ve found “The Secret.”

[Related: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your 20s Professionally]

I frequently say that I have found “The Secret” because partaking in all these positive actions led me to an amazing bridge job. It may not make more money than my last job, but the healthier work atmosphere makes it easier for me to prioritize self-care.

[Related: 15 Career Tips from Our Favorite Girl Bosses]

It’s always hard starting anew, especially when you feel stuck in your current job and lifestyle. All parents want their children to have the best possible lives, including security, food, and clothing. But I’ve learned there are small steps you can take, even if they don’t feel like steps at the time, that will reintroduce positivity into your life. Though they might not get you the ideal job or make more money, these things will remind you of who you are and who want to be.

[Related: “On Discovering What You *Really* Want to Do with Your Professional Life“]

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