How to find your path (even if it’s different than you think)

Trying to find your path? If you're looking for goal-setting tips or motivation, it's good to remember that there are lots of different ways to get where you're going. Click through for tips on finding YOUR path. #selfhelp #selfdevelopment #motivation #goals
I was sitting in the sunny corner of Mrs. Buisman’s third grade class when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. Of course, I imagined the path that would take me there would be paved with a wildly successful book series about talking otters.
When I was 20, I thought my path was writing for newspapers.
When I was 22, I thought I’d reach my destination by scribing press releases.
When I was 25, it was ad copy.
When I was 32, it was About Pages and snarky product descriptions.
These days I pay for my pho and Old Navy Rockstar Jeans by ghostwriting blog posts and even entire books for other people.
I’ve achieved my childhood dream! Hugs and high fives to Mrs. Soderquist and Mrs. Kanz and Mrs. Lofgren and every other teacher who encouraged me and my overwrought fourth grade metaphors and creepy stories about dead racehorses. I’ve reached my destination; the path has looked somewhat different than what I expected.
When we’re starting on just about any adventure, we imagine a point A to point B path. We’re aware that it’ll take hard work and commitment to reach point B, but if we play our cards right, we’ll get there.
And though we’re aware of the hard work involved in getting what we want, I think many of us imagine pretty specific paths.
Committed relationship >> lady partner easily gets pregnant >> family
high school >> college >> job in an area you studied >> increasing responsibility >> dream job
meet someone >> date for 2-3 years >> get married
Those are awesome paths! But there are other, completely valid ways to get where you want to go.

How to find your path (whatever it is)

You can reach your destination of parenthood via:

Getting pregnant “the good old fashioned way”
Working with a surrogate
Marrying or partnering up with someone who already has kids

You can reach your destination of self-employment by: 

Slowly building a portfolio while working a day job
Totally changing careers to something that’s more freelance friendly
Acting as a contractor for just one client
Having several sources of freelance income that add up to a livable salary

You can reach your destination of skill mastery by:

Getting a college degree in it
Taking heaps of online courses and reading every book you can get your hands on
Learning on the job
Apprenticing to a master
I mention this not because one path is better than the other but because many of us become blind to our options. We become down-to-the-bone convinced that there is A Best Way (nay, the only way!) to get what we want. We spend months or years machete-ing our way down a path that isn’t working – failed IVF treatments, a collapsing publishing industry, a degree that we hate.

P.S. This post is dedicated to my incredibly driven and intelligent husband. After getting kicked out of college (twice), getting his PhD at 35, he took a job in the private sector well outside his field of study.

But he kept professor-ing and lecturing on the side to keep his foot in the door. Last month he finally reached his destination: Senior Climatologist for the state of Minnesota. It’s been a long, winding path from his childhood fascination with tornadoes and I’m so, so proud of him.

Photo by Ian Froome on Unsplash

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  1. Nakita

    The new site looks BEAUTIFUL!

    I’ve been thinking on this topic a lot over the past few months as I’ve been encountering A TON of unexpected life changes. The best I’ve been able to do is resolve to live the best life I can right now and act in a sustainable for my future goals. You have to know yourself and shift when the currents pull you.

    Thanks for this post. The path to a creative and fulfilling career is an odd one. I always knew I planned on owning my own business, but I never would have dreamed it would have been in film-making. Passions shift with life and it’s awesome (and terrifying) to discover new parts of yourself. That’s growth!


    P.S. I love that you use the term “man-partner.” I always have to answer clarifying questions when I say “partner” instead of “boyfriend.” I prefer it because “boyfriend” trivializes our relationship which is especially detrimental because we work together on a lot of projects. I’m always glad to see other people seeking out new terms that aren’t gendered or marriage-status specific. Just because we haven’t signed a contract doesn’t mean it’s not serious or stable.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thanks so much, Nakita! It’s hard to know what to call your committed man, isn’t it?! Glad we’ve both found something that works for us!

  2. Phyll

    THANK YOU for writing this & reminding us (so eloquently) of the things we already know… that just get lodged in the dusty cobwebs of the back of our minds.

    New site looks awesome btw!!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thanks so much, Phyll! All the credit goes to Kim Lawler!

  3. Kathryn

    Thank you for this reminder! It can sometimes be hard when you see people taking the traditional route all around you. I’m glad I happened upon your blog 🙂

  4. Amanda at Diary of a Semi-Health Nut

    I want to print this out and hand it to people who give me the side-eye when I say I’m a blogger. Thanks for writing this!!

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